The Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Safe Communities Unit is warning businesses to be careful of how they dispose of sensitive materials.

The Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Safe Communities Unit is warning businesses to be careful of how they dispose of sensitive materials.

Unit issues fraud warning

Even though downtown core dumpsters, for the most part, have become extinct, the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Safe Communities Unit is asking businesses to be diligent with their refuse.

Sensitive business, customer and client information, by law, must be protected by the retailer. And, if no longer required, destroyed in an appropriate manner. Failing to ensure proper protection of your customer’s sensitive information could result in prosecution.

“Not that this information was ever secure by using dumpsters, but this issue makes it more incumbent on our city businesses to review their security initiatives where it concerns the storage, disposal and even access to customers’ personal information,” said Ed Howard, business and seniors program coordinator with the safe communities unit.

Howard emphasizes to business owners to make sure employees are well-versed on the disposal of personal information contained on receipts, purchase orders, credit card receipts and related material.

At the very minimum, suggested Howard, these documents need to be shredded.

“We have people looking through our waste by night and day, not only might some be looking for something of value for themselves or food items, they’re looking for receipts,” he said. “Receipts bearing names, addresses, account numbers, social insurance numbers partial or in whole and other personal information.

“If they can’t use the information themselves, they have the knowledge of where they can sell that personal information for money to a criminal that does know how to use it.”

Howard also reports that organized crime groups are capitalizing on data stolen from business mail to recreate authentic looking cheques for re-issue. Smaller businesses that are unsophisticated and lacking the technical resources of their counterparts are easy targets for fraudsters and scammers.

The safe communities unit has a list of eight recommendations to keep this type of crime away from a business, including not leaving business mail containing sensitive personal information – especially banking data, business debit cards or credit cards – lying around.

“This includes data that may belong to your customers that is privy to your business,” said Howard. “Process this information as quickly as possible for your protection, and the protection of valued customers.”

Other suggestions include opening mail as soon as possible rather than leaving it lying around unopened, keep Point of Sale (POS) terminals secure and keep a close eye daily on your accounts using the Internet or telephone banking services, and review your statements.

It has been suggested that four out of 10 people will have an attempt made or be a victim of fraud this year by fraudster or organized crime.

“Because it has happened once does not mean that it will never happen again,” said Howard. “Awareness is the key, and what to do to avoid being a victim.

“This crime does happen and is happening in Vernon. It makes big bucks for the criminal and this is why they do it.”

For more information, call Howard at the safe communities unit at 250-550-7844.

As March is Fraud Prevention Month Josee Bull, owner of The UPS Store on 30th Ave, offers the following advice:

Lock your mailbox. If your residential mailbox does not lock, consider renting a mailbox in a secure location.

Take receipts. After you have visited a retail store, bank machine, gasoline pump or any place where a receipt or confirmation notice was issued, be sure to never leave receipts behind.

Shred personal information. Almost one in three people don’t shred personal documents before tossing them in the garbage. Don’t let dumpster divers access your information.

Don’t leave personal information unattended. Nearly six in 10 Canadians carry their SIN card with them at all times. When you are out in public, be sure to hold onto your purse or wallet or ensure that it is in a secure place.

Keep original documents safe. Keep originals of items such as health cards, SIN cards and other similar documents in a secure location in your home, and keep photocopies of these items in your wallet or purse.

Guard your pin. Cover the keypad when at ATM or debit machines and never write PIN numbers down.