Every year, thousands of Canadians fall victim to fraud, losing millions of dollars. Most don’t think it could happen to them, but fraudsters use sophisticated ways to target people of all ages. The impact of fraud on individuals, families and businesses can be devastating. Retirement savings, homes, businesses and in some cases, lives have all been lost.
Scammers victimize vulnerable Canadians, individuals who may be at their lowest. The best way to fight these types of crime is through awareness. The RCMP manages the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) with the Competition Bureau and the Ontario Provincial Police. The CAFC plays a crucial role in educating the public about scams and fraud.
The CAFC is Canada’s repository for data, intelligence and resource material related to fraud. It provides information to assist citizens, businesses and law enforcement in Canada and around the world.
What to do if you are a victim:
Step 1: Gather all information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
Step 2: Report the incident to your local police. This ensures that 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.
Step 3: Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Step 4: 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).
Step 5: 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. These details can be found under “report abuse” or “report an ad.”
Step 6: Victims of identity fraud should place flags on all their accounts and report to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.
Help a family member
Watch for any of these warning signs:
A marked increase in the amount of mail with too-good-to-be-true offers.
Frequent calls offering get-rich-quick schemes or valuable awards.
Many calls for donations to unfamiliar charities.
A sudden inability to pay normal bills.
Requests for loans or cash.
Banking records that show cheques or withdrawals made to unfamiliar companies.
Secretive behaviour about phone calls.
If you suspect that someone you know has fallen prey to a deceptive telemarketer, don’t criticize them. Encourage them to share their concerns with you about unsolicited calls or any new business or charitable dealings. Assure them that it is not rude to hang up on suspicious calls.
Keep in mind that criminal telemarketers are relentless in hounding people. Some victims report receiving five or more calls a day, wearing down their resistance. And once a person has succumbed to this ruthless fraud, their name and number will likely go on a “list”, which is sold from one crook to another.