A release from MHPS says there is no typical fraud victim in Canada. With advancements in technology it is now easier for scammers to obtain money or property through fraudulent means and to remain “faceless” as they do so.
“Consumers have a role to play in stopping fraud by arming themselves with the facts and reporting fraud when they encounter it. Recognizing fraud is the first step to better protecting yourself. It is important for consumers to remain vigilant and aware of the many different types of fraud scams out there as they are ever-changing and new trends are always emerging.”
The focus for MHPS this week is on cybercrimes and online scams.
“Cybercrime makes up a large component of all reported frauds and scams reported each year and can include any type of fraud/scam committed over the Internet. These can include; romance scams, online investments or marketplace scams, employment, loan, ticket sale or phishing scams.”
Police say that with an increased reliance on Internet-related technology, especially during the pandemic, fraudsters have become very tech-savvy and have more time to invest in their criminal activities. Police have observed an increase in “data breach” information use by criminals where they are able to obtain a lot of personal information which can lead to identity theft and misuse of your credit card and banking information.
Having strong passwords that you change multiple times per year is one way to guard against data breaches.
MHPS offers the following reminder about Canada Revenue Agency scams:
Each year, especially around tax return time, the number of complaints received from people reporting a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam will increase.
In most cases, the target will receive a call that will be displayed as a local phone number. Upon answering the call, the target will hear an automated message the caller will identify themselves as being from the CRA. The automated voice will accuse the person targeted person of owing money and will also make threats to have the person arrested and charged. The automated recording will then direct the targeted person to “Press 1 to speak to an agent”. If the Targeted person presses 1, a person representing themselves as an agent of the Canada Revenue Agency will begin asking questions that will ultimately lead to The scammer will direct the person to provide personal information (SIN etc) or to purchase iTunes gift cards or other type of gift card to pay off their debt and instruct them to call back with the card codes. The cards will then be used by the scammer to sell on the black market.
The MHPS suggests that anyone receiving one of these automated calls, immediately hang-up. The CRA DOES NOT use automated calling systems and will have your Social Insurance Number on file. They will NEVER ask for payment in the form of gift cards.
Sometimes, the this scam will vary slightly and the caller will identify themselves as a police officers and advise the victim that their SIN has been compromised, and request that the victim confirm their number over the phone.
To protect against these common frauds, it is important to remain vigilant and NEVER provide personal or financial information over the phone. Likewise, never comply with an unsolicited phone caller who demands payment in gift cards.
The CRA will never call and threaten to have you arrested for not paying your taxes.
The CRA will never ask for payment in the form of gift cards or prepaid credit cards.
If you are contacted and told you owe money, always confirm with the CRA directly. Look up the phone number online and do not use the call back number that the caller has provided. Do not trust your call display. It may say Police or ABC but in reality it is a scammer.
If your workplace sells gift cards, you can also help by being on the lookout for potential victims and inform them about this scam. Victims may seem stressed and agitated as they are purchasing a large amount of gift cards.
If you or someone you know is a victim of the CRA scam or any other has lost money due to a fraud contact the MHPS at 403-529-8481 to report.
MHPS adds that due to the extremely high volume of fraudulent call attempts, if you have received a fraudulent call but are not a victim (meaning you have not shared your personal information, bank information, and have not made any payment) then there is no need to report or contact police
To keep yourself in the loop about Fraud Prevention Month activities occurring provincially, follow the hashtag #FPM2021 on social media or visit the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association website.
For more information about frauds and scams visit the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre website.
The Alberta Securities Commission says more young people are falling victim to online investment fraud
It is releasing an awareness campaign aimed at educating Albertans 18- to 35-years-old.
A study last year done in conjunction with the commission shows young Albertans spent more time online and falling victim to investment-fraud scams.
The scams appear as ads – or through social media – and they often involve a new product or opportunity related to COVID-19.
The commission has created a new online tool to help people do their research before they commit to any investment.
You can learn more at checkfirst.ca.