Have you ever had your identity stolen, or your
debit and credit cards compromised? Have you ever received a Nigerian Letter requesting your help to transfer money out
of county? Did you really win $1 Million dollars in the email lottery? Fraud, we know it's out there, but how do we protect
Step One: Recognize
Here are some typical types
of fraud in Canada:
Lotteries, sweepstakes, contests Pyramid schemes Money transfer requests (Nigerian Letters) Internet
and mobile phone scams Health and medical scams
Emergency scams Dating and romance scams False charity scams Job and
employment scams Small business scams Service scams Mortgage fraud Prize pitches and vacations offers
Bureau Canada has issued a great guide to protection against fraud.
Thousands of Canadians are victims each year. Scammers
do not discriminate; they target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels.Fraudsters are creative and well organized
and if they are successful once, they will try to scam you again. Recognizing a fraud is the first step to avoid becoming
Top Ten Scams of 2012
The following list was developed jointly
by the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Protection BC, and
BC Crime Prevention Association. In no specific order, here
are the Top Ten Scams to be on the lookout for in 2012.
1. Brand Spoofing
spoofing (aka phishing) is an attempt to collect personal, financial and sensitive information via email or texts. If the
recipient follows the link provided and connects with the fraudulent branded website (usually pretending to be a bank), any
information entered into the data fields (account #, PIN, contact information, SIN number, etc.) could be used for fraudulent
purposes. Additionally, some variants of phishing scams make use of Trojan horses to infect recipient computers with malware.
QUICK TIP: If you receive these messages just delete them and do not click on any links, and hang up on callers you aren't
2. Advance Fee
Consumers have reported
losing substantial sums of money responding to advertisements that "guarantee" loans to people, often online. Consumers
complete credit applications and are told the loan (from $5,000 to $100,000) has been approved and the promised funds will
be received once a fee is paid. After payment, the loan is never received as promised.
QUICK TIP: It is illegal for a
company to charge a fee in advance to obtain a loan, even if that fee is disguised as the first or last month's payment.
I will gladly forward a copy of "The Little Black Book of Scams" to anyone who requests it!
3. Gold Buying Schemes
In 1912, the average price of gold was $18.93 per ounce (and
it had been so for about 100 years before). In 2011, the price of gold soared, rapidly fluctuating and averaging over $1735
per ounce. Similar to gold rushes of the past, a strained economy and high demand for gold resulted in many consumers selling,
trading and receiving unfair returns when cashing in their gold and jewellery.
QUICK TIP: When choosing an appraiser,
find someone locally whom you know and trust. Have jewels such as diamonds priced separately from the gold they are contained
4. Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse occurs when seniors'
pocketbooks are exploited by scammers who take advantage of a person's vulnerabilities associated with age - like hearing
loss, loneliness, physical limitations and impaired mental capacity. Common financial elder abuse frauds include tricking
seniors into giving out private banking information; encouraging unnecessary home repair work, telemarketing and mail fraud;
and swindles by family or friends that result in seniors giving up money, property, personal information and decision making
QUICK TIP: Most elder abuse happens to a senior by someone they know, such as a family member, friend or caregiver.
5. Power Saving Claims
The switch to Smart Meters fostered a rise
in false claims and deceptive ads by some scammers selling energy conservation devices. Consumers reported purchasing a number
of power saving devices they claim did not work and that did not meet electrical safety standards.
QUICK TIP: Always
check out a company's BBB Business Review (bbb.org) first. If it sounds too good to be true, remember that it probably is.
6. Door-to-Door Sales
Each year a variety of unscrupulous door-to-door
salespeople use high pressure sales tactics to frighten people into purchasing expensive, substandard and often un-needed
products and services. Be wary of overly aggressive sales people selling everything from alarm systems to vacuums and air
purifiers, as well as roofing, paving, window washing, painting, plumbing, heating, repair and landscaping services.
TIP: If you feel threatened by an aggressive salesperson, ask them to leave your property. If they refuse, call the police.
7. Virus Fixing Scheme
A caller (supposedly from Microsoft) claims
to be phoning about a serious problem with the owner's computer. The caller warns that if the problem is not solved, the computer
will become unusable. In order to "fix" it, the computer owner is directed to a website and told to download a program,
plus pay a fee for a subscription to this preventative service. The catch: there was never anything wrong with the computer,
the caller is not working for Microsoft, and the owner has downloaded to their computer damaging malware and spyware.
TIP: Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism.
8. Fraudulent Locksmiths
Consumers reported "local locksmiths" advertising online using a local telephone number and local
address, but when contacted, consumers are connected to a call centre in another city and there is no locksmith at the address
listed in your area. Consumers who have hired these companies allege that they have been overcharged for products and services,
received bad advice or poor workmanship, or have had difficulty contacting the business to correct problems.
When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification, a business card and their license. Also make sure that they are insured,
so you know costs will be covered should any damage be done to your personal property.
9. Penny Auctions
Online ads, often designed to look like news reports, are cropping up on popular websites
claiming that you can get great deals on iPads and other electronics with online penny auctions. Users must set up an account
and purchase bids with a credit or debit card; each individual bid may cost less than a dollar and are often sold in bundles
of 100 or more. Every item has a countdown clock and as people bid, the cost of the item goes up incrementally and more time
is added to the clock. Even if you don't win the item, you still have to pay for the bids you placed which can add up over
QUICK TIP: Before providing any personal information or signing up for any "free" trial with a penny
auction, read all of the fine print carefully on the website. Before bidding on an item, research how much it costs elsewhere
and keep track of how much you're spending on bids overall to see if you really are getting a good deal. Keep a close eye
on your credit card for unexpected charges.
networks like Facebook and Twitter are becoming more and more popular. Users are often subject to targeted advertising and
direct messages, and scams of all colours use social networks to operate. Fraudulent work-at-home job offers are sent through
Twitter "tweets" and Facebook messages, deceptive "free" trials are advertised, and "clickjacking"
on Facebook convinces users to unknowingly post malicious links on their status updates.
QUICK TIP: Your computer should
always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti- virus and anti-spyware software, and a secure firewall.
Use the most up-to-date versions of your web browser to offer further protection. Be wary of messages from friends and especially
strangers that direct you to another website via a hyperlink.
Step Two: Report It!
If you decide to file a complaint, it is important that you keep any evidence, such as:
*receipts of any kind (including credit card receipts)
*mail, emails and text messages
in a safe location in the event that you are requested to provide them. This information
may form an important part of
any investigation. The information you provide could be used as
evidence during a prosecution.
To report a scam, contact the:
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
www.antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501
In addition, credit bureaus
can put a fraud alert on your account, which will alert lenders and
creditors of potential fraud:
For more tips on how to protect yourself, check out RBC's privacy and security website:
Mortgage fraud is up 150% in Canada and the Provinces most at
risk are Ontario and Quebec. So
make sure you get Title Insurance when you purchase a property.
Also, protect your
PIN and Passwords - yes, even from friends and family members. Learn to say:
"Sorry love...my PIN is personal!"