March is fraud prevention month in Canada
Have you ever received a phone call informing you that you have just won a cruise of the Caribbean however; it was too good to be true? Your reaction to such a call is just one of the ways to identifying and preventing fraud.
Being a victim of fraud, regardless of the form, is costly. Whether it be online or through the mail, fraudulent acts can be seen in different forms such as identity thief, defective products, services that are not performed or thief of money from a bank account.
To avoid fraud, the best approach is to inform yourself about the possible avenues that fraudsters can and will use.
1. Unsolicited Email
Similar to phone calls, receiving an email with details about winning a trip, a sum of money or contest is an easy way for fraudsters to target you. The message in the email which maybe interesting at first, however; should not be trusted and you should not click on any links that will take you to a website which you will be asked to provide more personal and financial information. The best approach to avoid such a situation is to read the subject heading and identify the sender of the email. If you do not know the sender and not familiar with the subject, delete the email. Fraudsters will use the same approach with mailing out application forms using conventional snail mail.
2. Promised Health Cures / Fitness Solutions
Whether it be in classified advertisements in the newspaper, on the internet, or on television, the promotion of various health cures and or fitness solutions is another tool for fraudsters to reach out to you. If you are interested in what is being offered, you should look for such signs as claims to be a “cure”, a “scientific breakthrough” and advertisements mentioning scientific evidence. If you are intending to buy the product, do some research before and ask a health care / fitness professional to validate what is stated in the advertisements.
3. The Wrong Bank Machines
Bank or debit card fraud is one of most common types of fraud that is associated with bank machines. It is important to note that using some particular machines that are located in gas stations, bars and depanneurs will make you vulnerable to bank or debit card fraud. These machines that are not affiliated with major banks are known to have a card cloning device to obtain banking information that is stored on the card. It is best to use a machine that is associated with your respective bank.
4. Shopping At The Wrong Places
Whether you shop on the internet or in an actual store, you can be a target of a scam organized by fraudsters. From selling defective products to not having a strict return policy, questionable stores and websites must be avoided if there is record of fraud claims. To best protect yourself from scams from particular stores (on and off the web), ask questions about the products that are being sold and return policies. If the owner of the store or site is not able to provide you with clear answers, select another location to shop.
5. Working From Home Opportunities
For some individuals, opportunities to work from home is ideal, however; not all opportunities are valid as stated in the job offer. Any type of “work from home” offer should not prompt you to pay money prior to your first day on the job. To avoid such fraud, be sure to look out for such claims: “little effort required and extremely high earning potential” and “no experience is necessary”. In addition, it is important to avoid sending any type of banking information that the fraudsters will claim to need for direct deposit for salary purposes. To properly validate the job opportunities, conduct some research with the name of the company and read what others have said about the opportunities.
6. Winning A Lottery
Winning a lottery that you did not enter is a clear sign that you are a target of fraud. Most lottery fraud scams initiated by the fraudster will begin by contacting individuals by phone or email to have “processing fees” or “transfer charges” sent to the head office before the lottery winnings can be awarded. Knowing that you did not enter the lottery, you should ignore any such news of winning a prize, contest or a sum of money.
Whether you are rich or poor, young or old, you can be a target for a scam. No matter kind of fraud that is being committed, fraudsters will always seek to take advantage of individuals that are not informed of the tools and methods that they use on a frequent basis for their own financial benefit.
For more information on fraud prevention, visit Canada’s Competition Bureau.