Ways you can fight back against fraudsters

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Have you done your part to help? Learn to make your community safer by reporting fraud when you see it.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on fraudsters. Their website contains a wealth of information on many of the scams that are currently plaguing Canadians – and there are a lot. Some of these include:

  1. Telemarketing scams: fraud conducted over the phone
  2. Online scams: fraud conducted over the internet
  3. Email and text message scams: fraud conducted by electronic messages that attempt to steal information that is personal or sensitive
  4. Identity theft: fraud involving an individual’s personal information being used without their knowledge for criminal activity
  5. Business scams: fraud targeted at businesses
  6. Mail scams: fraud involving unsolicited mail (i.e. foreign money offers)
  7. Door-to-door scams: fraud involving individuals posing as salespeople to complete a job or sell something

There’s a very good chance that you’ve been on the receiving end of one of these scams. And you may be lucky enough to have recognized and avoided it. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. Fraudsters often prey on the most vulnerable. And those of us with the ability to recognize and fight back owe it to our friends & families to do so.

One way you can help is to report fraud when you see it. It’s easy to do and can be done online through the CAFC’s new, easy to use Fraud Reporting System. If we all take the time to report scams, we’ll be helping the CAFC get ahead of the fraudsters and tackle the problem of fraud head-on.

Another way you can help is to educate those around you. The Competition Bureau Canada publishes The Little Black Book of Scams (available in many different languages). This is a great resource you can share with your friends and family to help educate them.

SOME OF THE EASIER SCAMS TO FALL PREY TO INCLUDE:

Phishing and smishing scams

With this scam the fraudster will send you an email or a text message that appears to be legitimate. When you follow the instructions, you end up divulging your personal information, like your username and password, which the fraudster then uses for nefarious purposes.

Tax scams

With this scam the fraudster will call and claim that you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for unpaid taxes. They will threaten you with serious consequences if you don’t agree to pay.

Don’t assume that anyone is safe from fraud. Whether it’s a “CEO scam,” a “romance scam,” a “tax scam,” or one of the many other creative scams listed in The Little Black Book of Scams, everyone has a hot-button that fraudsters can push to disarm their defenses.

In order to protect yourself, you should pay close attention to any communication that:

  • involves a discussion about wire transfers
  • claims you have overpaid something
  • has spelling mistakes
  • requests to provide personal information
  • comes as an unsolicited phone call or friend request on social media
  • simply sounds too good to be true

Remember, whether you’re defending yourself against the dark arts of fraudsters or defending a family member or friend, take Harry Potter Professor Mad-Eye Moody’s advice and practice “Constant vigilance!”

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

Have you been on the receiving end of fraud? What’s the craziest or most creative attempt you’ve seen made by a fraudster? Post a comment below.

 

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

David Lord, CPA, CMA, CFP

David is a co-founder of Red Seal Financial Ltd. He works with individuals, families, professionals and business owners to help them plan for success. He is a big believer in education, both learning and teaching, and is passionate about financial literacy