When you or someone gets scammed or frauded, it is an unpleasant experience and can cause you issues for months or even years. With some simple knowledge, you can help yourself greatly avoid the headaches.
Watch Out for These Scams
Canadians lose millions of dollars to scammers online, on the phone, through the mail, and at the door every year. New scams appear all the time. Here are some you should know about before sending money electronically or buying prepaid/gift cards or sharing information.
Sweepstakes / Lottery Scams
If you receive notification that you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes, never respond by sending money. A legitimate lottery would never require you to send money or pay a ‘tax fee’ before you can claim a prize. Never send money or pay ANY fee if you get notified you won a prize of any amount.
These scams involve dating and romance websites where the scammer sends emails with talk of need, love and/or desire. If you use websites for dating, use legitimate or reputable dating websites. These scams are setup very similar to a pyramid scheme. There is somebody at the top and they will have people search out people online and have other people spend hours every day devoted to building your confidence and trust and then start off asking for a small token of trust and then finally trying to convince you to give a large sum of money. in 2019, almost $201 Million was lost in the US alone that was reported was accounts for approx 15% of all cases. The other 85% went unreported as most people are ashamed or embarrassed that they fell into the scam.
Typically a telephone scam, callers pressure you claiming to be the government (such as Immigration or Tax Department) and threaten arrest, deportation or loss of citizenship if you don’t end payment immediately. Government Officials don’t threaten people over the phone. The government never contacts people by the phone for payment including money transfers and prepaid/gift cards. Never send money to someone calling claiming they are from a government agency. DO NOT trust your Called ID display – contact the applicable government department and confirm information regarding your profile. Also pay attention to the time of year. An example is at Tax Time (March to May), the amount of Tax Scams will increase.
With all the technology advancements in the world today, cyber criminals now have the ability to have your “Call Display” display any number they wish to. So they can make your phone show the local police department number to make they claim sound even more legitimate.
This scam involves telephone offers of low interest loans that are only available if you send money in advance. Never send money to anyone requesting an upfront fee on a loan. You should verify the legitimacy of the loan offer with authorities or a financial professional. You should also ask the caller for another number you can call to verify the loan offer.
Have you ever clicked on a link or open an email attachment without knowing the person who sent it to you? Cyber Criminals have skillfully figured out how to create emails that look like they’re coming from legitimate sources, including financial institutions, government agencies, and other services and businesses. Get savvy in recognizing these frauds since often they not only collect your personal and financial information, but also infect your device with malware and viruses.
Emergency Scams (also known as Grandparent Scams)
This scam typically targets grandparents. A caller claims their grandchild is in trouble and needs money because they’ve been involved in an accident, are stranded somewhere or arrested. If you get one of these calls, never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust. You should verify the story with family members or trusted authorities. You should also ask the caller questions only your grandchild could answer.
Tech Support Scams
If someone claiming to be with a technology company contacts you and wants to diagnose a computer problem you didn’t know you had, or provide tech support you have not requested, STOP! If you receive an unexpected pop-up or spam email about an urgent problem with your computer, STOP! Scammers are likely using a nonexistent problem to obtain remote access to your computer or banking information.
Online Purchase Scam
There are two types of fraud related to online purchases. In the first, an online fraudster will contact you claiming that the winner of an auction you were bidding on had pulled out and offer the item to you. Once you pay, you never hear back and the auction site can’t help you. In the second, fraudsters trick consumers into buying counterfeit goods at discounted prices through spoofed websites.
Never buy from sellers with poor ratings. Only make purchases through a reputable website and/or company. You should be informed about online sellers’ refund policies and dispute-handling processes and be careful that you are not overcharged. Be wary of sellers who ask you to send funds internationally or via a money transfer.
Money Transfer Scam
In this scam, you’re requested to transfer money for another party. The scammer will offer a share of the money if you provide bank account details and pay taxes and fees for the transfer. The scammer may claim to be a lawyer or bank representative advising you a long-lost relative has left you an inheritance.
Never send money or provide credit card or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust. Verify the story with loved ones or trusted authorities. Ask the caller for another number you can call to verify their claims.
Victims of Identity Theft often feel violated – rightly so, since this crime involves someone using your personal information to obtain money or credit. They can even use your identity to open bank accounts they use in money laundering. If you suspect or see any suspicious signals, REPORT THEM IMMEDIATELY. The longer you wait, the more time consuming, costly, and exhausting it can be to rectify the situation.
Some signs that you may be a victim of identity theft:
- bills for products or services you never purchased
- unauthorized withdrawls from you financial institution
- unauthorized charges on your credit card statements
- unauthorized charges on your credit card or new accounts in your name
- noticing a decrease in the amount of mail or bills you receive
Protect Yourself – Handy Tips
First Line of Defense. Looking for key red flags and asking additional questions prior to sending money may help to protect yourself.
When SENDING money, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this deal too good to be true?
- Did I ask for or confirm the caller/contact information like phone # or address?
- Do I know and absolutely trust the person I am sending money to?
- Do all transactions like this one require someone to send money first?
To report suspected fraud or for more information, please contact one of the following organizations:
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 ( antifraudcentre.ca )
Competition Bureau Informaiton Centre 1-800-348-5358 ) competitionbureau.gc.ca )