NORTH BAY – North Bay Ontario Provincial Police continually receive complaints of people believing they have been a victim of a scam.
Scammers do not discriminate. Scammers target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels. The scams have many different approaches, however the goal of the scammers are generally the same. Victims are pressured to provide personal information, banking information, remote access to their computers or to make instant decisions about investments or purchases. This allows the scammers to commit identity theft, access bank accounts/ investments, or fraudulently use credit cards. Here are some ways to protect yourself from fraud:
If a door to door salesperson comes to your home, ask to see their identification and call their employer if you are suspicious. Do not provide the salesperson with personal information such as your gas or hydro account information. Do not let the person come into your home unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with. Some scammers may ask to see your furnace, water heater, air exchanger or air conditioner as part of their scam. In reality, they may be hoping to see what valuables you have in your home. Once in your home, they can also pressure you further to participate in their bogus offer. If you are suspicious of the offer, get a second opinion from a reputable company in your area. Do not commit to anything until you are satisfied that the business or offer is legitimate.
Beware of charity scams. These scams involve scammers collecting money by pretending to be a real charity. The scammers may approach you on the street, at your home, over the phone or on the internet. Often scammers will use a recent natural disaster that has been on the news to request donations. It is to be noted that all registered charities are overseen by the Canada Revenue Agency and is listed in their data base.
Be suspicious of anyone who asks you to provide personal / banking / credit card information in order to verify your accounts by phone or online. Reputable institutions will already have this information and would be able to provide you with all the information about your account if you require it. If there is a reported problem with your bank, go to the bank in person to resolve the issue. You can also request that the bank or credit card company send you the information by mail for you to look over.
A common scam is for someone to call you claiming to be a member of your family in a crisis situation and in need of money. The Scammer will claim that their family member have been in an accident, are having trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money. This type of scam is commonly used to target elderly persons. Check with other family members before you send anyone money. Never send money to anyone you do not know or trust.
Watch out for callers promoting free trips or promising huge financial gain. There is no such thing as something for nothing. There may be hidden fees that make the trip cost more than it normally would in the first place. If it sounds too good to be true—it likely is.
Be suspicious of any email notifying you of a huge lottery prize, or someone overseas offering to give you large sums of money out of the goodness of their heart. Once again, if it sounds too go to be true—it probably is. Do not provide the information requested and delete the email.
If you discover that you have become a victim of a fraud or scam, contact the local police immediately to report the crime. If your credit cards or bank accounts are involved, notify them as soon as you can so they can assist you.
For more information about the many types of fraud and what to watch for, you can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or on the web at www.antifraudcentre.ca
You can also check the helpful Crime Prevention Tip Sheets at www.opp.ca .