Nowadays, scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money or obtain personal details. They use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year.
Here are some tips to help you stay a step ahead:
Spot scams right in the beginning
Scammers will often pretend to be a government body (eg. CRA or Service Canada), a charity, or a company you do business with. Valid, legal companies will never ask for your personal information or upfront fees unexpectedly. If you do receive an unexpected request, do not send money or give out your personal information — whether it’s via SMS, phone, or email. You can always reach out to the organization afterwards to verify if the request is legitimate.
Know who you’re dealing with
If you have any doubt that the company or person you’re dealing with may be a scam, turn to Google. Type in the company or product name into the search engine, followed by keywords such as review, scam, or complaints. You can even look up their phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows, or emails
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information and email IDs, so the name and number that’s displayed isn’t always real. If you are contacted and asked to provide personal information/money, hang up and call back to a number you know is genuine to verify.
If you receive an email, always check the email address. It is usually quite different then what it says on the name. Never ever open suspected links from emails or texts.
Don’t fall for a promise
Some scammers may ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a even job. Never send money through Western Union, Money Gram, reloadable cards. Nor give credit card details, online account details, or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Payment method matters
How they request you to pay will make a huge difference. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram, or paying through reloadable cards is risky, and scammers will often request payment via these methods. Government offices and honest companies will never require you to use these payment methods.
Verify with someone first
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you to do so. Slow down, do an online search to see if their story checks out, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
I think I’ve been scammed. What do I do?
If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam, do your best to gather all information about the fraud (this includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages) and report the incident to your local police. This ensures they are aware of which scams are targeting their residents and businesses. Keep a log of all your calls and record all file or occurrence numbers.
Once you gathered all this, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you’ve wired money to the scammers, report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent (e.g., money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, bank or credit union, credit card company, or internet payment service provider).
If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji, or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website. Their contact details can usually be found under “Report Abuse” or “Report an Ad.”