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Attempts at credit card fraud are up 42 per cent over the past two years, and cases of fraud where someone poses as a real person when applying for credit have jumped 84 per cent over the past five years. The response from too many people to rising fraud levels is a yawn.

OK, I’m guilty of it myself. The security software on my computer expired and I’m getting constant reminders to resubscribe. I’ve been procrastinating, but no longer. After reading a media release from the credit-monitoring company Equifax about fraud, I think we all need to step up our game.

Equifax did a survey that found people were sharing less on social media and increasingly checking their credit reports, which can be helpful in limiting fraud. But there was a year-over-year decline – from 57 per cent to 52 per cent – in the number of people who said they shredded their personal documents when done with them. The number of people who updated the security software on their computer fell to 35 per cent from 42 per cent.

Fewer than half the people in the survey regularly updated their security passwords, while only four in 10 admitted to double-checking their credit card and bank statements. And yet, 82 per cent believe identity theft is becoming more prevalent.

I have a shredder at home, I checked my credit report fairly recently, and I examine my banking statements pretty closely. I don’t have security software for my computer, but I plan to take care of that right away.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Who has the best coffee loyalty program?

A comparison of Tim Horton’s new program and similar offerings from McDonald’s, Starbucks and Second Cup.

Carbon pricing, province by province

Find out if you’re in line to get a carbon tax rebate or credit and how much you might receive.

The perils of real estate speculation

The New York Times tells the story of people who invested in residential real estate with the help of a company fronted by a former media personality who talked in his online bio about being “a big fan of this radical idea that everyone should be able to achieve total financial freedom.” Things go awry.

The five key numbers of personal finance

If you want to take control of your money, you need to know your precise take-home pay, total debt, retirement contributions and more.

Today’s financial tool

A financial planner goes over the basics of the medical-expense tax credit.


I had an excellent chat about investing and advice with Ben Felix and Cameron Passmore of PWL Capital on their Rational Reminder podcast.

Ask Rob

Q: Rob, I am near retirement and have started to transfer my mutual funds to my self-directed account for the purpose of moving to lower-cost ETFs. I do know that the price I get when I sell my fund is the net asset value at the end of the trading day. Some of my funds are over $100,000 each, and I wonder what risks there are in unloading the fund all at once. Is it better to do so over several trades?

A: There’s a lot to be said for making a clean break with those mutual funds by selling them all and moving on. If you stagger the sell transactions, there’s a lot of potential for you to tie yourself up in knots trying to time the market’s ups and downs to your advantage. If you have a new, better plan for your investments, why delay?

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

What I’ve been writing about

  • A turbo-charged but dangerous way to earn more credit card reward points
  • Help for retirees living the RRSP ‘tax nightmare’ (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
  • The 2019 ETF Buyer’s Guide: Best Canadian dividend funds (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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