“This investment will give you high returns with little or no risk — guaranteed!”
“Act now, tomorrow will be too late!”
“Don’t tell anyone else — then everyone will know about this loophole!”
If you have heard any of these sales pitches, you should beware. These are a few common signs of scams or other forms of fraud.
In 2012, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received nearly 39,000 complaints about mass marketing fraud, which cost Canadians over $53 million. In addition, 17,000 cases of identity fraud or identity theft cost victims more than $16 million.
In many cases, victims are too embarrassed to report fraud or even tell their family and friends they’ve been scammed. This only makes it easier for fraudsters to scam new victims.
It’s time to do something about it. March is Fraud Prevention Month, and on March 12, “2 Good 2 B True” day, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) will be just one of several organizations to encourage Canadians to talk about their experiences with scams and fraud, and to share tips on recognizing, reporting and stopping it through social media, using #2Good2Btrue.
Recognizing and reporting fraud and scams helps everyone, and learning how to spot a possible fraud is one of the most effective ways to keep us all safe.
Tips to protect yourself
To avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
• Don’t share personal information freely.
• Destroy documents with personal information.
• Keep your wallet or purse safe.
• Don’t carry ID you don’t need (such as your Social Insurance Number ).
• Lock your household mailbox if possible.
• Check your credit report once a year (you can order it for free).
• Make sure websites are secure before transmitting personal information.
• Delete emails that ask for personal information.
• Keep computer firewalls and spyware filters up to date.
• Keep your computer passwords safe.
• Be skeptical — if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
• Save paper bank records for at least a year.
If you find you have been scammed, report it — keeping it a secret only makes it easier for scammers to defraud more victims.
• File a report with your local police
• Advise all financial institutions and other companies where you have accounts, such as your phone or cable provider, about the fraud.
• Contact Canada’s two credit reporting agencies, and ask them to put a fraud alert on your file.
• Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s national call centre at 1-888-495-8501 or by email at i...@antifraudcentre.ca.
• Write down the steps you take as you report the fraud.
The best way to protect yourself against fraud is knowing how to prevent it. FCAC has developed a wide range of materials, including videos, tip clips, case studies, tip sheets and quizzes to help consumers learn to spot the red flags of identity fraud, debit card fraud, credit card fraud, email and phone fraud and real estate fraud.
The Online Fraud page includes tips on how to prevent identity theft and fraud when using public wireless Internet access and social networking sites. There are also tips on spotting housing frauds and scams, employment fraud, investment fraud, payment scams and other kinds of financial fraud.
Visit itpaystoknow.gc.ca — because it pays to know.
FCAC is an independent government agency mandated to ensure both that consumers have the information and financial skills they need to deal with the financial services sector, and that Canada’s financial marketplace is healthy, competitive and fair. We strive to provide Canadian consumers with objective advice in order to help them better manage their personal finances. Through communication activities, outreach initiatives and partnerships, we reach out to Canadians in order to give them the tools they need to make informed financial decisions.