Being scam-smart this year

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

There are a variety of scams and frauds happening all the time in Canada, with new ones being invented daily.

In 2020, Canadian reports of fraud reached 69,411, with 41,007 victims of the crime. In total, Canadians were defrauded to the tune of $107.56 million was according to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency).

As of Feb. 28 this year, there have already been 11,266 reports, 7,646 victims and $34.6 million, keeping Canada on track to nearly double last year’s numbers.

With all this fraudulent behaviour on the rise, it’s important to understand some of the newer scams and to be mindful of existing ones in order to avoid losing hard-earned money or personal information to these less-than-friendly tactics.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Anti-Fraud Centre have all posted warnings about fraudulent activity to their respective websites.

The most common scams defrauding Canadians are ones that look like they’re from the Government of Canada, where they attempt to imitate government services in order to get access to your personal and financial information.

These can come in the form of a well-tailored email, which looks like it’s from the Government of Canada or the CRA.

These are especially popular now because these websites are being used more often, with folks accessing financial aid throughout COVID-19.

The structure of many of these scams are similar: they ask you to sign in to an account you have with the government or to input your SIN number on some made-up website, and once you’ve done that, they’ve got your information.

From there they can easily acquire your banking information or even your identity as a whole.

Another common scam is a text message claiming it’s the Government of Canada, asking for personal information.

The CRA states on its website that the Government of Canada will never send texts asking you for personal information, to verify your SIN number or tell you it’s been stolen, to make any form of payment or to receive any form of payment.

To protect yourself from scams such as these, always be mindful of the information you’re giving out online or over the phone.

The Government of Canada will always notify you of anything through the use of sealed mail or will email you asking you to place a call to an official phone number, because if you don’t initiate the call, you don’t know who you’re talking to.

The Anti-Fraud Centre recommends you use strong passwords online, and to do your research on any site that asks for personal information, as well as to beware of any unsolicited calls where the caller asks you for any kind of personal information.

Overall, the frightening rise in scams and fraudulent behaviour is definitely a cause for concern, and especially in the digital world which we live in today.

Always be aware of who’s on the other side of the phone, and stay safe when traversing through the internet: your wallet will thank you.