Fraud: Recognition, Reporting, Prevention

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

FraudFraud can be considered a large-scale deception, perpetrated by organised criminal networks, to trick people or businesses out of their hard-earned money. It costs Canadian citizens, businesses and the Canadian economy tens of milions every year. It is important to recognise and report fraud so that it can be prevented.

What can you do to protect yourself and others?

Scams can take various forms, but the most straightforward, of which many Canadians still fall for, is when fraudsters pretend to sell you something and ask you to pay them. They sometimes take the form of fake charities. It's easy for them, because they do not need any of your personal or bank account details. You hand over the money voluntarily. The easiest way to spot this is if they accept only Western Union and MoneyGram and refuse to process credit card payments. You cannot retrieve payments via Western Union and MoneyGram once they have been picked up, while your bank will compensate you for credit card theft and investigate the source of the fraud on your behalf. Thus, deal only with reputable retailers and only via credit card payments. 

Another common type of fraud is where criminals obtain your personal and bank account details. This allows them into every part of your life, so it is the most important to prevent. Use strong passwords on your online banking profile, and make sure that it differs from the login details you use elsewhere. Do not give personal information on your social network accounts and, if possible, use a different form of your name and address online than you use everywhere else. Guard your Social Insurance Number and other documents with personal information, and never hand out information freely over the phone or email just because someone claims to be a bank or insurance company employee.

Another popular type of fraud occurs when criminals promise that they will pay you for some service, such as for keeping their money in your account, for processing their money through your credit card, and so forth. Once you engage in communication with them, they either obtain your personal details, or they ask you for a fee to allow them to transfer money to your account. You never see the money, and they walk off with your processing fee. Never respond to such email.

One type of scheme which many people find difficult to resist is the lottery or prize winning scheme. Remember, it is difficult enough to win a competition which you have entered; the chance of winning one you have not entered is zero. It is almost inevitably a scam.

The best place to report fraudulent schemes remains your local police station. If they believe the case should be handled elsewhere, they will inform you and tell you what to do. If you have been the victim of an attempted fraud, you can also call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s national call centre at 1-888-495-8501. If you receive an email that attempts to scam you, forward it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at info@antifraudcentre.ca.

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