We hear stories about fraud and scams, which can sometimes lead to identity theft as well, and exclaim, “How can they fall for that? It was too obvious!” But are you sure you never fell for one or almost? Are you sure you are protecting yourself from fraud, scams, and identify theft? A lot of fraud, scams and identity theft work on your emotions and naivety. Have you never questioned a phone call received claiming a loved one is hurt and needs help and then panic?
Many of these fraud and scams are sophisticated and constantly growing. Recently many of the scams and fraud are aimed to impersonate real government agents to acquire personal and financial information to steal your identity.
Since we now live in a digital world, the methods have expanded from mail, phone, website pop-ups, and in-person to include e-mails, text messages, and social media.
Here are some of the popular scams/frauds:
Charity and donation, fake business proposals, explicit video, extortion, foreign money offers, initial coin offerings, investment, inheritance, job, phishing, payroll spoof, prize, and romance.
Business grants and loans, charity and donation, counterfeit merchandise, extortion, fake grant, franchise/business opportunity, immigration website, initial coin offerings, investment, job, loan, merchandise, prizes, ransomware, romance, service, sextortion, subscription trap and continuity, tech support, and weight loss.
Fake business proposals, foreign money offers, inheritance, jobs, mystery shopper, prizes, and psychics.
Phone and fax scams
Bank investigator, calls targeting the Asian community, Canada Revenue Agency, charity and donation, collection agency, emergency, extortion, franchise/business opportunity, low interest rate offers, personal information, prizes, service (example: air duct cleaning), and tech support.
In person scams
Please remember that many businesses and government bodies:
never requests for personal information (such as a Social Insurance Number, credit card number, bank account number or passport number) by telephone, email or text, or
use notifications (text or email) or calls that attempt to complete a financial transaction (such as messages requesting to click on hyperlinks to deposit benefits or to pay taxes).
If you find you are in one of those situations where personal or financial information is being asked, be extra cautious. Here are some tips on protecting yourself and not falling for scams and frauds.
When you receive a call and you are unsure if it is legit or not, please hang up and call them back, do not use the number on the call display or the one they have provided, instead search the website for the legitimate number.
If you receive a written request and you are unsure, research, look up the company, call them, do not trust the information written to you as it could be a scam. A quite common scam going on is: “Your Netflix account has been cancelled, due to non-payment, please click here to update your payment.” Or “Your [insert name] bank account has been compromised, please click here to reset your password.” How many times do you get one of those for a bank that you do not have an account with to begin with and if you do, are they sending it to the right place?
Be careful before you click on links in any email or text you receive. They may be using a common practice known as phishing to steal your personal information when you click on the link or installing malware or virus on your computer or mobile device.
If you are asked to pay fees or taxes through email, a call or text message be cautious and take extra measures to ensure their claims are true.
I know it is hard to keep up with multiple passwords and all the password requirements but trying to keep the passwords difficult and different is essential and there are many tools available to you to help keeping them inline. And, please do not carry or write down and carry your passwords with you.
Do not share your access codes, user ID, passwords, PINs and ensure they are safe. Keep your information current with those you do business with, including the government.
Only carry minimum IDs and documents with you. If you have multiple credit cards, only carry the ones you use frequently and keep the rest in a safe place. Do not carry your SIN or passport with you unless you require it. Report any missing or stolen IDs, credit or debit cards. If you are applying for something, ensure you know what documents are legally required for the application. Example: SIN should only be used for employers, government benefits and related programs, financial institutions, etc. Please read who can ask for SIN if you want more information.
Shred all sensitive documents (including those with your name and address) you no longer require or store them in a secure place.
Pay attention to your billing cycle and ask about any missing statements or suspicious transactions.
If you are away, please ask a trusted friend/neighbour to pick up your mail/packages or ask the post office to place a hold on delivery.
Research and fact check before supporting any charities and non-profit businesses. For charities use the CRA website to see if they are registered.
To keep yourself informed and to prevent any CRA scams please check out Slam the Scam – Protect yourself against fraud.
Ensure you have up to date anti-virus and malware on your devices and to protect you even more get a VPN to ensure your sensitive data is secure.
Even though you try to be careful, it is hard to guarantee you are not at risk. But reviewing the process of how we protect ourselves from fraud and scams can ensure we are not easily compromised.
You can report deceptive telemarketing to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.
If you think you are a victim of fraud or scam, please contact your local police department and report to any of the agencies it regards to.
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