Don’t fall victim to scams
By Jenn Watt
Published March 6, 2018
A recent CIBC poll found that 77 per cent of Canadians surveyed had been targeted by a financial fraud attempt.
Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they’d been targeted at least once a month.
Of those targeted by scammers in the poll, 70 per cent say it happened by email; 42 per cent by phone; 37 per cent by text and 14 “device based.” (Each fraud method has a special new term associated with it, by the way. They’re called phishing, vishing, smishing and skimming respectively.)
The Competition Bureau has just released its second edition of The Little Black Book of Scams.
Here are some of the most prevalent scams. Keep them in the back of your mind next time you open your inbox to find an email from someone you don’t know.
(Note: there are so many more scams in this book. This is just a sampling. It’s worth taking a read of the full document.)
Identity theft - “Scammers are always on the lookout to collect or reproduce your personal information to commit fraud. Thieves can make purchases using your accounts, obtain passports, receive government benefits, apply for loans, and more. This could turn your life upside down,” according to the Little Black Book.
The best way to avoid this scam is to guard your information. Shred personal documents before you recycle them, don’t give out your sensitive information over the phone or online.
“Use a secure and reputable payment service when buying online – look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol.”
Health and Medical Scams - This one is even more frightening than others, because it includes not only taking your money, but selling unregulated medicines that may not work.
“Miracle cures, weight loss programs and fake online pharmacies” are the top health/medical scams on the internet. They may appear as sponsored posts on Facebook or as pop-up windows on websites you visit. The best bet is to check with your trusted health-care provider and/or pharmacist in town. Too good to be true claims are often that: too good to be true.
Canada Revenue Agency scam - This one’s been around for a few years now, but it’s still quite effective. Fraudsters will contact potential victims saying you’re entitled to a refund, but you need to provide banking information first.
Other times, they will be aggressive, saying you owe money and threatening to call the police. The CRA says it will never contact residents via text message; never uses threatening language; never asks for pre-paid credit cards or gift cards and does not collect payments through Interac e-transfer.
As scams become more elaborate and sneaky, it’s important to stay vigilant and remember that you can always take the time to check something out before committing.
If someone’s calling you asking for your information, take down their information instead and check with the police or the anti-fraud centre to see what to do.
You can get a copy (digital or hard copy) of the Little Black Book of Scams by visiting www.competitionbureau.gc.ca.
Need help right away or want to check something out? Call the anti-fraud centre at 1-888-495-8501 or go to AntiFraudCentre.ca.