Watch Out for These Scams

You can protect yourself from scans in general by following these tips:

  • Keep all personal documents in a secure place. If you don’t need them, do not carry your birth certificate, passport or SIN card.
  • Never tell another person your PIN or account passwords and take care to cover your hand when entering your PIN at bank machines and when making store purchases.
  • Safely dispose of old bills and statements–shredding is best.
  • Do not click on pop-up windows or respond to e-mails, open attachments or go to website links sent by people you do not know. Your bank or credit union will not send you anything by e-mail unless you ask them to.
  • Never give out your credit card, bank account, or personal information to someone over the phone, at the door, or over the Internet unless you know the person or organization you are dealing with, or you made the contact.
  • Do not sign an agreement or contract to buy anything without giving yourself time to think it over. If a salesperson insists that an “offer” is “time limited” and you must decide that moment, it is probably better not to buy.
  • Be suspicious if someone you don’t know asks you to send them money or a cheque, or to return money they “accidentally” sent you.
  • Before hiring someone or agreeing to have work done on your home, ask for proof of identity and references and check them.

There is a very wide array of scams currently reported in Canada.  You can see a lengthy list here.

Some examples of recent scams include:

Prize/lottery -You receive notice that you’ve won a prize — but there’s a catch. First you have to send cash in order to claim your money, free trip or fabulous prize. Alternatively, you could be asked to pay the taxes on the prize or make a purchase. Either way, the winnings never arrive. These scams aren’t new, but they are branching out. Many sweepstakes scams start with an entry box at the mall or an entry form in the mail. Not only do Scammers now have your personal information they’ve also got more credibility when they call you up.

Oil or Gas Company – Emails or Text messages that claim to be from an oil or gas company. When the victim clicks on the link, attachments compromise their phone, computer, or personal information.

Grandchild Needs Bail – The scammer contacts grandparents and pretends to be a lawyer or their grandchild, and claims that money is needed for release after arrest. In multiple instances, victims have sent $5000-$9,000 to the fraudsters.

Moving Scams– One couple in Ontario hired a moving company that advertised specifically for seniors. Despite having read positive reviews online, the couples’ experience was abysmal.  The cost of moving greatly exceeded the initial estimate provided, and when the couple protested, the company threatened to call the police and sell the movers’ goods.  Ultimately the couple paid the inflated costs, but the returned goods were banged up, dirty and broken.  This is one of many stories of moving scams.