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:

*Sources:  Fraud prevention study sponsored by Industry Canada, Competition Bureau - and EKOS, Perceptions of crime in Canada study, sponsored by Public Safety Canada.