It has been said that the ancient Greeks invented insurance and the next day they invented insurance fraud.
Sadly, scamming each other may be one of the most common activities humans engage in.
March is Fraud Awareness Month, the focus of which is to arm Canadians with the information they need to recognize, prevent and report fraud.
Canada’s Competition Bureau notes that the first step to not becoming a victim of fraud is to know the techniques scammers use to gain trust.
These include: developing professional-looking marketing materials; providing believable answers for your tough questions; impersonating government agencies, legitimate businesses, websites, charities, and causes; pretending to be your ordinary supplier; hiding the true details in the fine print; preying on areas of vulnerability, including those needing help with loans or finding employment; asking for fees in advance of promised services; threatening legal action to collect on alleged contracts; falsely claiming affiliation with reliable sources, such as legitimate news sites to support their products or services; and exchanging victim lists with other fraudsters.
The RCMP’s message is a simple one: If something appears too good to be true, it probably is. Nevertheless, thousands of Canadians are taken in every year, but very few report it. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates only around five per cent of fraud cases are ever reported to law enforcement agencies.
A big push of Fraud Awareness Month is to increase the reporting of fraud, or even suspected fraud. This can be done in a number of ways, perhaps the simplest of which is to contact the Anti-fraud Centre at 888.495.8501.
While better reporting would certainly go a long way to stopping fraudsters and preventing others from becoming victims, the RCMP says the best way to deal with these crimes is prevention. The RCMP has detailed tips on its website for preventing identity theft, payment card fraud, email fraud, mass marketing, Internet-related fraud, investment and securities fraud, and counterfeit money.
Finally, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) warns people to be wary; anyone can become a victim of fraud.
“It’s easy to fall for a financial scam,” said Lucie Tedesco, FCAC commissioner. Criminals use creative tactics to catch potential victims at different stages of their lives. Whether you are starting your first job, moving out on your own, maintaining a home or living in retirement, be mindful of the potential scams that could target you. Protect your assets, property and identity by recognizing and reporting the warning signs to the proper authorities and by visiting itpaystoknow.gc.ca to learn more.”