Fraud Prevention Month is March. In Canada, a good source of up-to-date information is the Little black book of Scams from Industry Canada. Keep yourself informed to prevent becoming one of the many thousands of victims of fraud each year; be sure to share tips with vulnerable friends and family members; and if you have children, remember to protect their personal information and documents.
If you have been scammed:
Report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online
or call them toll-free: 1-888-495-8501
Alerts and Tips to Avoid Fraud and Identity Theft:
Simple Fraud Prevention Tips:
Help any seniors you know avoid fraud by reading this 2015 Seniors' Toolkit (PDF). Here is a graph from the report showing the huge losses of Canadian seniors by fraud type.
Here are some of the main Canadian resources to help you avoid common scams and frauds (a small excerpt from pg 70 of My Help Book BC 2016).
Don't feel stupid if you've been a victim of fraud.
People who specialize in fraud are highly motivated and have lots of practice. And it probably means you are a good person and think the best of people. This is something to be proud of not ashamed. But you do need to protect yourself.
Here are two signs of fraud to watch out for:
1) False Authority. Watch out for people who cloak themselves a with a sense of authority, expertise, fake professionalism, or who convey a high status by flashing signs of wealth. They count on the fact that most people do not have much experience or confidence to aggressively question people in positions of authority or status. This can even happen in the form of official looking invoices or renewal notices by mail or email.
2) False Urgency: If you are feeling a sense of panic, emergency or urgency and feel thus compelled to take some kind of action (or something bad will happen) -- take a big breath, step back, and stop yourself from taking any action until you have time to check on the details. If this urgency comes to you from someone claiming any kind of authority or familiarity -- in person, by telephone, email, or mail, realize this might be a warning sign something is wrong. Command yourself to: "WAIT DON'T ACT" even though you feel compelled to click on that "yes I need help with my computer" button, or think you are going to be frozen out of your email or bank account, or think you are going to miss a once in a life-time deal. Your mantra should be "I NEED TO CHECK DETAILS FIRST".
If you are worried about something: Independently look up the number from a reliable source of whatever company or authority you are worried about. e.g. your bank, internet provider, Revenue Canada or utility company. Find the number from your utility bill for example. Then you call them to see if something is wrong. And if you need computer help, call someone reputable and local.
If you have a small sense something is not right, don't worried about looking silly, call a trusted family member or friend and ask for advice. Everyone has been tricked at one point or another - scams are nothing new. A business advice book from 1894 states: "Beware of the Swindler, He is everywhere and in all kinds of business." The book goes on to warn about "the cheap jewelry swindle", "the barb-wire swindle", "the lightning rod swindle", and "Always read before signing" because "Carelessness in failing to acquaint themselves with the contents of a paper before signing it has worked incalculable harm to thousands of well intentioned people." (These scams of yore come from Safe Methods of Business by J.E. Hansford, J.L. Nichols & Co., Toronto On, 1894.)
My Opportunity & Help Book BC