Thieves have been around in one form or another since the dawn of civilization with the purpose of taking something of value. These days, that can mean stealing your identity, money, and possessions by building your trust, using manipulation and lying, as well as threats and force. Con artists use door-to-door, email, letter, phone call, and text message tactics that are constantly evolving.

Some of the common scams to avoid and tips on how to deal with them:

  • Unsolicited tech support – Tech companies will not call to tell you that you have a virus on your device. Hang up the phone, do not click on links in emails, and do not provide any information. If you are concerned, bring your computer or tablet to a repair shop.
  • Canada Revenue Agency– Usually use aggressive techniques and ask for unusual forms of payment such as bitcoin (cryptocurrency), gift cards, or prepaid credit cards. Hang up, do not return these calls, you will not be arrested. 
  • Appliance rental – Appliance rental companies will not initiate contact with you for inspections. Con artists often pose as businesses to gain access to your home. When in doubt contact the company directly.
  • Fake websites – Products that have outrageous claims, deals that seem too good to be true, or offer free trials can often leave your bank account lighter and no product to show for it. Only make purchases from reputable websites, read all terms and conditions, and do some research.
  • Dating and romance – Never send money to someone you’ve never met and don’t give out personal information. Be vigilant if asked to share intimate photos or videos, they can be used to extort you. When meeting someone you met online, choose a public place to meet in person.
  • Employment – When looking for work, research the company and be wary of any company that asks you for money to get hired.
  • Grandparent – Targets seniors claiming to be a grandchild. Often asks urgently for money and secrecy.

There are ways of protecting yourself and your loved ones; here are some additional ways to keep safe:

  • Safeguard your personal information and do not give it out just because someone asks, this includes your full name, address, email address, banking information, passwords, etc.…
  • Be skeptical. Ask for more information. If you did not initiate contact, it is okay not to trust.
  • Only answer to those known to you. If possible, put caller ID on your phone and only answer when you know who is calling.
  • When in doubt, ask for help. You have worked hard to earn your money, never be embarrassed to ask for a second opinion from someone you trust.

If you think that you may have fallen victim to fraud, report it to the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.