Congratulations! An email informs you that a fantastic prize is ready to be shipped to your door if you act now. A caller excitedly tells you that you've won the lottery.
All you have to do to collect your money or prize is provide personal or financial information, or pay a prize fee or tax. Someone calls you claiming to be your relative and that there is an emergency, like a car accident, and they need money immediately.
STOP! It may be fraud. An increasing number of Canadians report that either they or a family member have been the target or a victim of mass marketing fraud (35%) or identity theft (20%), and indicate that they are very concerned about email or telephone scams (60%)*. In 2013 over 23,000 Canadians complained to the Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre about identity theft or fraud, and there were over 44,000 complaints about mass marketing fraud. From January 2014 to December 2016, it is estimated that Canadians lost over $290 million to fraudsters.
March is fraud prevention month, and everyone can benefit from finding out what they can do to recognize, report, and stop fraud. Here are just a few quick tips:
- Pick passwords that are hard to guess by combining numbers, symbols, upper & lowercase letters;
- Cover the keypad when you are entering passwords and pass codes;
- Update your credit cards to ones that have the latest security features – for example, ‘chip cards’ which require a PIN;
- If it is a legitimate contest you will not have to pay a fee or taxes in order to collect your prize;
- Don't give out your credit card number over the telephone unless you made the call;
- Don't reply to spam - just delete it;
- Shred unwanted documents that contain personal or financial information.
For further information or to report fraud contact:
- the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre - http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/ or call 1-888-495-8501
- Partnres Against Fraud: novascotia.ca/seniors/partners_against_fraud.asp
- Service Nova Scotia: novascotia.ca/snsmr/access/individuals/consumer-awareness.asp
- Canada's Competition Bureau ;
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada - http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/Pages/Welcome-Bienvenue.aspx;
- Privacy Commissioner of Canada;
- Better Business Bureau of the Atlantic Provinces;
- Hoaxslayer.com; and
- Consumer Fraud - Legal Info Nova Scotia's information on preventing fraud.