Police offer tips to avoid falling for frauds and scams

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Fraud at its core is simply theft through deceit. It is meant for you to suffer some type of financial loss.

Identity thieves use the personal information they get to make money. They do this by obtaining or taking over credit accounts and bank accounts. Then they make purchases and/or withdrawals. Some may even make purchases and then sell the products for cash.

There are many different kinds of frauds and scams out there such as identity theft/fraud, lottery scams, emergency scams, advanced fee scams, romance scams, service frauds, and payment card fraud.

How do they get your information? Phishing is the most popular and effective way of obtaining personal information. It is the use of fake emails and sometimes phone calls which try and prompt you to give or confirm your personal information. Emails will appear legitimate and have some type of important message that needs to be addressed immediately by clicking on a link.

•Lottery Scams – you cannot legally win any lottery you did not enter in to. They will request that you pay an admin fee or taxes first before being able to collect your prize.
•Emergency Scams – are meant to cause upset and fear that trigger a quick reaction that prevents logic being used. These include CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and Immigration scams. They will pretend to be an officer and accuse you of not paying taxes or that there are problems with immigration forms and if a fee is not paid immediately police will come and arrest you or a family member.
•Advance Fee Scams – usually offer employment opportunity, loans, residential rental opportunity, mystery shopper, unclaimed bank accounts and unclaimed inheritance money. Anytime you have to pay a fee upfront it is fraud. Anytime you have to cash a cheque or money order and send some cash back it’s a fraud.
•Romance Scams – this occurs typically by someone overseas. They will develop a relationship/friendship over the internet with promises to come to Canada but first they need some cash to help them. They will ask for small amounts at first than gradually increase the amounts until the victim is broke.
•Service Fraud – also known as computer hijacking. You will receive a phone call from Microsoft or Apple claiming there is a problem and they want to access your computer and a fee paid to fix the problem. A pop up will appear on the victim’s computer.
•Payment Card Fraud – skimming is when data is obtained from the magnetic stripe along with potentially your pin. Cards are then made up and used with your banking info. Chip and Pin in Canada has drastically reduced this activity however it still happens. Tap technology is actually more secure than inserting your card. The reason is that when you tap there is no direct transfer of information meaning that the information is encrypted and only the bank can make sense of it. If your card is stolen, then it can only be tapped until the limited amount is reached. Once reported the bank can reimburse you.

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Here are some fraud prevention strategies to avoid becoming a victim:
•Do not give your personal information over the phone or internet
•Try to minimize the identification documents you carry with you
•Shield your PIN when using an ATM or PIN pads
•Shred your documents with personal information on them
•Pay attention to your billing cycles
•Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure accuracy
•Always ask yourself – Is this too good to be true?
•Always question if the giving up of information would in any way put you at risk
•Use good anti-virus and firewall software
•Avoid clicking on any links in emails or unverified websites
•Always set strong passwords for any online use
•Use secure websites for finances and purchases online

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“Emergency scams are the most prevalent scams we see today. Prevention is the key” says, Detective Constable Mike Whitlock in the Fraud Bureau.

For more information please visit www.peelpolice.ca. -CINEWS

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