It may be the tail end of Fraud Prevention Month but now is as good a time as any to have a conversation about the numerous scams scouting around for the uninformed and unsuspecting among us. Yes, many victims are unaware of what’s going on and that’s what swindlers are counting on!
Fraudsters have worked overtime during the pandemic becoming bolder and more creative. It’s getting harder to distinguish fake calls, emails, and texts from legitimate ones. Being aware and alert can help prevent you from being swindled.
Statistics released by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CFAC) showed that Canadians lost over $106.4 million to fraud in 2020. But the CFAC says the real impact is much worse as only 5% of actual fraud cases are reported. Getting the word out there can make a huge difference.
From texts and emails to phone calls and letters, scamsters use a variety of platforms to target victims. Not a day goes by without me receiving calls threatening jail time unless I pay back money owed to the CRA, texts with links to bank accounts I do not have and email notifications about online purchases I never made. If you’re raising your eyebrows in disbelief, perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones that has been spared the aggravation and financial loss! Being forewarned is being forearmed!
Fraud has come a long way from emails that surfaced more than fifteen years ago asking an individual to send money to a relative or friend who is stranded abroad. Or money being transferred out from hacked bank accounts which several of us can attest to for that matter. An early morning phone call informing me about two “fraudulent” transactions on my credit card a year ago almost got me. But my suspicions were aroused when the caller asked me to confirm my account details and I hung up. After all, they had called to notify me of the fraud!!!
Last week a friend also received a call about fraudulent transactions but was asked to confirm the last four digits of his credit card number. He had a few words with the caller before hanging up. I was reminded of another lady who received a similar call more than ten years ago. She was woken up from her sleep in the middle of the night and almost gave out her number. Both these individuals have also got calls directing them to ATM machines in Mississauga to make payments.
Tech support scammers have also contacted me frequently. However, having in-home IT support is what saved me from falling victim to these callers who were quite believable the first time around.
Another call I received every two or three months last year was about an outstanding Rogers Cable TV bill. This one was easier to spot because we haven’t subscribed to cable TV in years.
Last month a friend shared details of a cheque scam. Here the fraudster sends a cheque amount that is more than what is owed for a service you delivered, claims it was an error and asks you to remit the balance back to them. While you will never receive any money from them, they will certainly make some off you! There’s something new to look out for everyday.
Studies show that romance scams are among the most common probably because they’re the most difficult to talk about. No one wants to admit they were vulnerable and gullible. Two divorced lady friends were targeted on Facebook by scammers who developed fake profiles and cultivated relationships with them for months. The ladies borrowed huge sums of money from friends to send these con men who disappeared on receiving it. I learned about this via people they were trying to pull into the online dating scene. They never mentioned it to me although we were close and discussed all other issues they were going through.
Taxi scams, lottery scams, job scams, phishing scams… the list goes on and anyone can fall victim to them. Take former NDTV anchor Nidhi Razdan who was duped into thinking she had a Harvard job. I’ve had a close brush with some job scams myself and hearing about her horrible experience brought back some painful memories! Razdan told her story so that others could learn from it and we can do the same.
Police are asking us to tell atleast two people about scams we are aware of and ask them to pass on the information to others in return. Knowledge is a powerful fraud prevention tool! I’m taking the opportunity to raise awareness and invite you to join the conversation and battle against fraud prevention!