I got the call with my daughter crying and telling me that she had just gotten a call on her cell phone. It was a threatening call demanding that she perform an illegal act. The caller told her he knew where she worked and that he had her cell phone number. Don’t let this happen to you, your business or your family. I have seen bad things happen in the last few weeks in Halifax, Truro, Toronto and Vancouver.

The phone call ended up being a sick prank from two young guys. I was not amused. My wife cried a good part of the night and was physically sick. Last night’s sleep was not great either. Even though it was a prank, we still felt violated. This event caused me to start a social media audit. I had to know if there were any spots where my family, my business and myself were vulnerable to attack. After the event, we were wondering how this person got my daughter’s cell phone number.

This can happen to you. Over the last three weeks, I have seen an identity duplicated for fraud purposes, a businesses person exposed because of a bad hyperlink, a fraud call that almost cost a friend’s mom over $2000 and our little adventure. So what should you be doing to make yourself safer?

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Make sure you hide personal details like phone numbers and birthdays away from the public. Only share these with friends you trust. Do not display them on social networks unless they are business phone numbers that are already in the public domain.
  • Never share your phone number across social networks in the open. If you have to share a phone number, share it via a private message.
  • Be aware about what you are sharing on social networks. Do not tell your friends that you are closing up the shop alone at night, or at anytime for that matter. Don’t tip a potential criminal off about your lack of security.
  • If you get a threatening or harassing call, hang up and dial *57 to trace the call in Canada. It might be different in your area. Check with your phone company. This number can be given to the police for a future investigation.
  • If someone did reach you via phone, especially by cell, you should consider changing your number. Don’t give the criminal a second shot at you.
  • If you are being approached via social media, then you should be prepared to take screen shots for the police.
  • Be careful what links you click on when you are on the Internet. You could release a virus onto your computer that could capture your information and send it to would be criminals.
  • In case of fake phone calls about your kids, you should give each of your kids a password so that they can verify themselves in case of emergency. This is effective against the Grandparent scam.

No one wants their business or their family to be part of a scam or a criminal act. It is up to us to guard those around us by being smart and prepared. So consider what I have written. Share this if you feel it will help others. Stay safe. Remember that it can happen to you. I have seen it happen in Halifax, Truro, Toronto and Vancouver.