Police remind people to remain vigilant when it comes to fraud prevention

Mar 25, 2024 | Canadian News, News

Canadians use technology for numerous daily activities, but fraudsters have adapted it to enhance their schemes.

Although some may believe they could never lose money to these scams or become a victim of them, anyone can fall prey to them regardless of how alert they may be.

York Regional Police Constable Kevin Nebrija said scammers often target vulnerable people. He said being vulnerable can mean quite a few things.

“So it can be either those who have restricted access to resources or even those who are under-housed, unemployed, but even newcomers to Canada’s worst scenario,” he said.

A recurring scam that should have people keeping their guard up during the tax season is the social insurance number (SIN) scam, said Daria Askerko, communications manager at the Canada Revenue Agency.

She said this usually involves callers masking their phone numbers with official government phones, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, and then asking victims to confirm their Social Insurance Number over the phone.

“Any email or text, especially if it’s a text message via a platform like WhatsApp would not be from the CRA,” Askerko said. “So if there’s ever personal information in written communication, that’s definitely not legitimate because the government does not put personal information in communications, in even the letters that we send out.”

Askerko said to beware of emails with spelling mistakes or may indicate you to click on links that direct you to a page to enter personal information.

aside from everyday people. It is also not uncommon for businesses to be the victims of financial fraud.

Some common scams that businesses may fall prey to are Phishing, fake CEO scams, Intellectual Property renewal scams, and business directory and office supply scams.

Anna Maiorino, the communications advisor at the Competition Bureau, said the best way to prevent a business from being victimized is for managers and employees to be informed and vigilant.

“Some common scams to watch out for are phishing, fake CEO scams, Intellectual Property renewal scams, and Business directory and office supply scams,” Maiorino said.

According to data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, investment scams, including crypto investment schemes, accounted for $309.4 million in losses in 2023. Additionally, spear phishing resulted in losses of $58.2 million, and romance scams amounted to $50.3 million in the same year.

Maiorino said the top three scams based on the number of reports were identity theft, service scams including grandparent scams, and personal information scams.

Nebrija said people should always be aware of their surroundings while banking. He said to cover the pin pad while punching in the PIN code at an automated teller.

“But also online purchases, you want to make sure you want to make sure it’s on reputable websites, especially through social media,” he said

Nebrija said it is best to avoid using public wifi when checking online banking because hackers prey on information on public wifi.

For anyone who suspects they were the victim of a fraud or scam, there are immediate steps that can be taken to limit the damage, he said.

Frauds can be reported online through an online reporting system, but if the crime is in progress, Nebrija said 911 can be called to prevent that from happening.

“If it’s after the fact again, make sure you document anything and everything that you can,” Nebrija said. “If you are on a phone with somebody who you suspect is scamming you, try to get details from them, their name, their phone number.”

Reports can be filed on the Canadian Anit-Fraud Centre website, or call local police.