Anti-Fraud Centre warning Canadians about holiday scams
As the festive season is upon us, police and officials at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in North Bay are warning people about the 12 types of fraud targeted at Canadians this time of year. (File)
NORTH BAY -- As the festive season is upon us, police and officials at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in North Bay are warning people about the 12 types of fraud targeted at Canadians this time of year.
The anti-fraud centre said the holidays are a time where fraud peaks and thousands of Canadians fall victim to scams.
"We've been saying it all along,” said Senior RCMP intelligence analyst Jeff Thomson. “Fraud is going up and we really want people out there to get the message to recognize, reject or report."
In honour of the 12 days of Christmas song, anti-the fraud centre unveiled its 12 scams of the holidays and what to look out for. These common scams occur every year throughout the Christmas season.
1. Counterfeit merchandise: Look out for flashy discount ads that direct you to websites that look like legitimate manufacturers.
2. Selling goods and services online: When buying and selling online, both buyers and sellers need to be aware that not all offers are trustworthy. Watch out for buyers who will attempt to not pay you or who are trying to access your personal information.
3. Fake charities: The end of the year is a busy season for charities looking for donations. Confirm that the charity you choose to donate to is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency before providing any financial information.
4. Romance scams: Watch out for people entering a relationship with you to steal your money or personal information. They will say anything in order to gain your trust and, consequently, access to your wallet. Make sure you really know who you're talking to.
5. Online shopping: Fraudsters pose as genuine sellers and post fake ads for items that do not exist. The listing price for almost any item is usually too good to be true. Research before you buy.
6. Phishing emails and texts: Do not respond or open any messages claiming to be from a recognizable source asking that you submit or confirm your information.
7. Secret Santa: You may have noticed multiple gift exchange posts on social media. This exchange collects some of your personal information and also hides a pyramid scheme where only those on top will profit from it.
8. Prize notifications: If you didn't enter a contest, you can't win. If there are fees associated with a prize, they are removed from the total winnings; you would never be required to pay fees in advance.
9. Emergency: A supposed loved one will reach out to you because they need money now and you're the only one they trust to keep it a secret. Do not give in to act immediately and verify the person's identity.
10. Gift cards: Gift cards are a popular and convenient way to give a gift. They should also be considered like cash; once they are exchanged, it is unlikely that you are getting your money back.
11. Identity theft: Keep your wallet on you and cover your PIN. Do not share passwords or provide your personal information.
12. Identity fraud: Contact your financial institutions and the credit bureaus, Equifax Canada and Transunion Canada, as soon as you notice any suspicious activity on your financial statements or your credit report.
"There’s everything from romance scams to extortion,” said North Bay Police Const. John Schultz. “We're seeing the CRA scams again, but a lot of people know about it."
A common scam this time of year: holiday shopping schemes.
“We're seeing a lot of online shopping these days especially with the pandemic and COVID-19,” said Thomson. “So, online shopping scams are what we want people to pay attention to."
Fraud is on the rise for the ninth consecutive year, according to the latest Canadian statistics. The fraud centre is reporting 77,000 total reports of fraud, which is a hefty increase from last year’s 58,000.
"We're already at $141 million in losses this year up from $138 million and Canada alone we had 47,000 reports,” said Thomson.
Police say scammers are fooling seniors quite often and are working to release a pamphlet to distribute to seniors’ homes in the city.
"We're printing a 14-page leaflet for seniors homes,” said Schultz. “It’s all about fraud and to just educate them. Through education, we can stop victimization."
Authorities say if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, document all information you can and call your local police agency right away.