Protect yourself from fraud and scams

Sgt. Sheri Tate, DRPS

Sgt. Sheri Tate, DRPSBy Sergeant Sheri Tate/DRPS

We all need to be diligent and aware of the many scams designed to defraud you of your hard earned money. Seniors especially need education in this area because they are targeted by fraudsters and scammers for the following reasons: 1) many seniors own their own home and have pensions, which means they have money to target; 2) seniors may not fully understand technology and therefore can be easily tricked into believing online scams; 3) older seniors with cognitive problems can be more easily convinced of certain scams being real; 4) many seniors are living isolated lives and can be quite lonely, and in this case, the kind voice on the telephone offering friendship and supports can easily convince the senior to part with their money for various reasons.

The top three scams right now are the the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), Romance and Grandparent scams.

With the CRA scam, the caller pretends to be from the government, collecting money owed for taxes. The caller will state a mistake was made during a past income tax return and will then demand the money be paid right away. If the victim doesn’t comply with the payment demands, the caller threatens police action with an arrest warrant.

Many seniors are targeted on dating websites by romance scams. The relationship is in high gear almost immediately, with promises of marriage and everlasting love. The caller is always rich and successful. The only problem is the caller cannot be with their love right now because they are in another country, completing necessary business or settling matters. Something will happen that prevents the caller
from accessing their money and they need to borrow the money from the senior. If the senior doesn’t comply, the relationship sours as
the caller withdraws. Many seniors will often transfer the funds and this continues until there is no money left, or until the police or family get involved to prove it is a scam.

The Grandparent scam involves the caller saying to the elderly person something along these lines: “Hi Grandma, I’m in trouble and need your help. I’ve been in a car accident and I need money to fix the situation right away otherwise I am going to go to jail. Please don’t tell mom or dad because they will be so upset.” Grandma believes she recognizes the voice and asks, “Is that you Jenny?” Now the scammer has an identity to assume – Jenny – and will continue the story until grandma transfers the money.

Unfortunately, the police are rarely ever able to get the money back for the victims as these types of crimes are difficult to solve and most scammers use fake identities.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself.

  1. The CRA doesn’t call and threaten police action. Typically, the CRA will mail you if you have been reassessed and owe money
  2. Always ask for a telephone number to call the person back. This way, you can check the number to see if it is the company’s real number and then call them back yourself.
  3. Never wire transfer money unless you have personally met the person to whom you’re giving the money.
  4. With a romance scam, try to think with your head about the situation instead of your heart and build relationships with people you can meet in person
  5. Never give out personal information such as your date of birth, social insurance number, or bank account information
  6. Slow down, and when the person is asking for you to keep a secret, please don’t and ask other family members about the situation

For more information or to schedule a presentation about frauds and scams, contact Sgt. Sheri Tate at 905-579-1520 ext. 5624.