With world-wide communication at the tip of our fingers, educating yourself and loved ones about the signs of fraud can protect you from falling victim to scams in the future.
A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers are starting to take advantage of the current situation. Some fraudsters are posing as investors trying to persuade people to put their money in secure bank accounts in the economic uncertainty surrounding coronavirus. Others are posing as health officials asking for money to receive COVID-19 test results as well as scammers selling fraudulent COVID-19 test kits or miracle cures.
In a time of national uncertainty because of COVID-19, scam artists are taking advantage of the unease people feel and the desire to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.
If you receive a phone call or email asking you to invest in any of these scams mentioned above, be aware that you are being scammed.
Some other popular scams to be aware of are:
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) phone scams
On CRA scams the Government of Canada says, “Taxpayers should be vigilant when they receive, either by telephone, mail, text message or email, a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.”
The CRA will never set up a meeting with you in a public place to take a payment or demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others.
The CRA will also never threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence.
Online bad romance scams
Millions of people have taken a step away from traditional methods of meeting a partner and have turned to online dating or social networking sites to find romance. But instead of love, some may find themselves trapped in a scam, with the scammer trying to trick them into sending money.
The main way to protect yourself from these scammers is to never send or give money to the person you are dating if you have never met them in person.
Grandparent scams via phone or email
Scammers will try to tug at the heartstrings of grandparents that love their grandchildren. They’ll phone grandparents and convince them that they are their grandchild and they are in trouble, whether it be they got hurt somehow or have been arrested.
These scammers will play on grandparents love for their family and ask them to send money, often in the form of gift card payments, Interact e-transfer or prepaid credit cards, similar to a CRA scammer.
If you get a call or email like this, one way to protect yourself is to ask the scammer a few personal questions that only your grandchild would know.
It is important that if you are even a little uncertain, never to send any money.
Donation and Charity scams
Some scams involve deceiving people to believe they are making donations to charities that are non-existent.
Foreign Lottery or Inheritance money offer scams
A scammer may contact you and tell you that you can claim a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy benefactor.
You may be contacted by letter, phone call, text message, email or social networking message where the scammer usually poses as a lawyer, banker or other official and tells you that you are the only one to inherit money from the ‘deceased’.
They will tell you that your supposed inheritance is difficult to access and will try to convince you to pay money and provide personal details in order to claim it.
Online Phishing Scams
Online phishing scams are very successful because scammers are able to launch thousands of these scams every day.
Scammers will use email, cold calls, pop-up messages on the computer and incorrect internet search engine results. They want you to click on the pop-ups, links, or gain access to your computer by installing malware in order to gain access to personal information on your devices such as passwords, account numbers, or Social Security Numbers.
A phishing scam email or text message might say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts, claim there’s a problem with your account or payment information, say you must confirm some personal information or offer a coupon for free stuff.
How to avoid being scammed
In 2019 over 46,000 frauds were reported and $98 million lost to fraud in Canada.
Do not send money to anyone, on a dating sight or otherwise, do not be afraid to say no. It is also important to remember to never give out your personal banking or credit card information.
Do not provide any information to anyone who reaches out to you in an email, text or on the phone. As a reminder, only purchase items from reputable organizations, whether it is online or over the phone and always verify that the organization you are dealing with is legitimate before you take any other action.
If you believe your personal or financial information has been compromised, you should contact your bank and credit card company immediately.