Canada's Condominium Magazine
As we prepare our taxes, it is important to be aware of the scammers that are lurking out there, ready to pounce on unsuspecting victims and take their hard-earned cash. Provincial Constable Monique Baker explained that scams are a huge business and that con artists are professionals at what they do. They know what does and does not work and who is likely to fall for these scams.
During tax season, scammers will typically call their intended victims, impersonating an employee of the CRA in order to scare them into pay money that they allegedly owe by threatening them with jail time if they do not pay up right away.
As more people become aware of these scams, however, the con artists get creative and put a new spin on things in order to keep it relevant and make sure that it continues to work. Recently, scammers have doubled-back to scam victims that they have previously targeted, claiming to be able to help them resolve the issue and get their money back.
Additionally, those who fall victim to the deception get put on a special list of vulnerable people, a list which is often sold to other scammers, thereby increasing the likelihood that the person will be targeted again in the future.
“It is extremely difficult to catch the scammers,” says Constable Baker. “Often, they have moved, and they are gone before we can find them. Usually, they are from other countries; and in most cases, it is hard to trace back to them.”
The most important thing a person can do to protect themselves and loved ones is to be aware of current scams and to inform those who are particularly vulnerable, such as elderly relatives. Explain the scams that are going around and how they can protect themselves. Instruct them to call you before making large, suspicious payments or when asked to wire money. The following are additional rules to help keep you and your loved ones safe:
- Never volunteer personal, financial information over the phone or online.
- Never wire money to someone you do not know.
- If you receive a phone call where the caller requests a money wire or donation, hang up the phone and call the company back at a verified phone number.
- Pay for purchases with PayPal, as it is far more secure. PayPal protects both the buyer and the seller, reducing the risk of fraudulent charges.
Although it is extremely difficult to catch a scammer, there are steps that you can take if you or someone you know has fallen victim.
- Gather all information about the scam, including documentation, receipts, copies of emails, and text messages.
- Report the incident to local law enforcement.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or report the scammer through the Fraud Reporting System.
- Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent.
- If the fraud took place online, report the incident to the site where it occurred as well.
- Flag all your accounts and report the incident to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.