Categories
Canada

COVID-19 Government Scams

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, many government agencies are providing money and other support to help with pandemic-related hardships. Scammers, always ready to take advantage of people in crisis, have been stepping in with a new con. Watch out for con consultants claiming to “help” you get free government aid.

How the Scam Works

A website search, social media ad, or even an unwitting friend or family member directs you to a website of a new service claiming to help you get free money from government aid programs. These “consultants” say they can get you money from unadvertised government programs or programs where your application was previously denied. For example, scammers may assert that they can get you a personal loan from a government agency specifically for businesses. 

To get started, all you have to do is fill out some paperwork. This typically requires sharing sensitive, personal information, such as your full name, home address, and government ID numbers. Next, the “consultant” will ask you for an upfront payment for their services. You may also be required to pay a portion of the government aid funds you receive directly to the company, which they will likely ask for up front.

Most of the time, these “consultants” don’t really have any special information on government aid programs. Instead, they are simply hoping to get your personal information and an initial payment. Once you’ve paid, the consultant will disappear and the company will become unreachable. Your money may be lost for good and your personal information could be compromised, putting you at risk for identity theft.
Tips to Protect Yourself from These Scams

Research government aid programs through official channels. Visit websites that end in .gov or .ca for official information about government aid programs. Remember, government agencies don’t typically call, text, or send social media direct message without you opting into these channels.

Never give your personal information to strangers. Even if their story is convincing, it’s never wise to share your personal information with an individual or organization you hardly know.

Get to know a company before doing business with them. Before handing over money or your personal information, research a company and its claims. Ask yourself: Does this company have a good reputation? Are they BBB accredited and if so, what is their business rating? Does this government aid program actually exist? If a company representative gets defensive or aggressive when you ask questions to verify their claims, don’t do business with that company.

Beware of promises that sound too good to be true. Scammers are experts at pitching services and products that will miraculously solve all of your problems, be skeptical. Double check their claims before you agree to pay for their services or share your personal details.
For More Information
To learn more about common COVID-19 scams and how to avoid them, visit BBB’s COVID-19 resources.

If you’ve been approached by scammers who claimed to be financial aid consultants, report your experience on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report will help other consumers to stay alert and avoid falling prey to scammers.
Categories
British Columbia RCMP

Fake gold scam alert

Mounties are warning of a fake gold scam going around in the Southern Interior. 

Scammers approach their victims, often people who are naturally inclined to want to help people in need, at gas stations, grocery stores, shopping malls or plazas. 

The fraudsters then offer to sell them gold jewelry; the transaction is completed but the victim later finds out the gold is fake.

In another case, the scammer asks for money, often claiming to have lost their wallet. They say they need money for hospital bills or to escape an abusive domestic relationship, according to a news release from RCMP. 

“In this scenario, the con artist offers gold jewelry to the victim as collateral. The victim later discovers the gold is not real and does not hear back from the suspect,” police say. 

Scammers are usually both adult males and females; they usually appear South Asian or Middle Eastern, and sometimes claim to be from Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Some travel around in rental vehicles, sometimes with small children. 

“We recognize that many occurrences go unreported, as often times victims are embarrassed to acknowledge that they have fallen for these tactics. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a similar scam, please call your local police,” Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey says in the release.

Between April and December 2019, Southeast District Mounties received 61 reports about the fake gold scam. Residents in the region were conned out of an estimated $15,000.

There weren’t as many incidents in the first part of 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place, RCMP say.

However, offenders are on the move again, with reports coming from Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Penticton and the North Okanagan in June and July.

You can see the original Castanet article here

Categories
British Columbia Canada

Identity Fraud on the rise

Identity theft and fraud

Fraud alert!

June 30, 2020: The CAFC is noting an increase in identity fraud reporting. Fraudsters are using personal information about Canadians to apply for government benefits, credit cards, bank accounts, cell phone accounts or even take over social media and email accounts. It is important that Canadians take steps to secure their personal and financial information and know what to do when identity fraud occurs.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft refers to criminals stealing someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes. Identity theft can be:

  • unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft
  • more elaborate, such as phishing or database breaches

Computer spywares and viruses also help thieves steal personal information.

What is identity fraud?

Identity fraud happens when criminals use stolen personal information. It is often used to commit another crime.

Criminals can use your stolen or reproduced information to:

  • access your computer/email
  • access your bank accounts
  • open new bank accounts
  • transfer bank balances
  • apply for loans and credit cards
  • buy goods and services
  • hide their criminal activities
  • get passports or receive government benefits

Actions you can take to protect yourself

  • be wary of unsolicited e-mails, text messages, telephone calls or mail asking you for personal or financial information
  • check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities
  • shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage
  • retrieve your mail on a regular basis to limit possible mail theft
  • when you move, notify the post office and your relevant financial institutions and service providers

Link to the alert at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

https://antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/scams-fraudes/identity-identite-eng.htm?fbclid=IwAR3FRqy57Y8uHNPXer7GcZN2uoDS5u-TM86zt5AS_j8Ea4F1UyRfXtQXJwE

Categories
British Columbia Technology

Credit Card Skimming

Here is an interesting article about the uptick of Credit Card Skimming that’s taking advantage of the rise of online shopping during the global pandemic.  Here are some takeaway points from the article.

Shopping online is convenient but not risk-free. Ultimately, users are the ones who can make savvy choices and avoid many pitfalls. Here are some recommendations:

  • Limit the number of times you have to manually enter your credit card data. Rely on platforms where that information is already stored in your account or use one-time payment options.
  • Check if the online store displays properly in your browser, without any errors or certain red flags indicating that it has been neglected.
  • Do not take trust seals or other indicators of confidence at face value. Because a site displays a logo saying it’s 100% safe does not mean it actually is.
  • If you are unsure about a site, you can use certain tools to scan it for malware or to see if it’s already on a blacklist.
  • More advanced users may want to examine a site’s source code using Developer Tools for instance, which as a side effect may turn off a skimmer noticing it is being checked.

To read more about the article from Malwarebytes, click on the link here

Categories
British Columbia

34 percent of Canadians have fallen victim to fraud

The Chartered Professional Accounts of Canada has published a new survey that shows 34 percent of Canadians have fallen victim to fraud. We encourage you to read the article, but in summary, here are a few tips on how you can prevent yourself from being a victim of fraud from the article.

1) Create Better Passwords and don’t use an easy to guess password for your accounts.

2) Review your transactions from your bank of financial institution every month. If you see something suspicious, then report it

3) Shred Personal documents – Don’t toss personal documents into your recycling before shredding it. The West Kelowna Community Policing Society has a Shredding Event scheduled for May 2nd 2019, if you need to dispose personal documents. You can view the event here

4) Always keep an eye on your Credit Score. There are several companies that offer the service (TransUnion for example) along with Canada’s major banks.

5) Screen your calls. If you don’t recognize the caller, don’t answer the phone or respond to the text.

Categories
Better Business Bureau Canada Uncategorized

Top Scams for 2019

The Better Business Bureau has created a report for the top 10 riskiest scams that are currently happening in Canada. To get a copy of the report for 2019, you can download it from here

Get the guide from the BBB here

The Federal Government has also published the new Little Black Book of Scams on the Competition Bureau Website for 2019, which you can download here

Get the Little Black Book of Scams here

Categories
British Columbia

COVID-19 Scams

The Better Business Bureau has released some great information about the effects of COVID-19 along with scams that are starting to happen.

https://www.bbb.org/council/coronavirus/

We are also hearing about scam callers that are taking advantage of the situation. For more information on scam callers, please review our post on Phone Fraud

Categories
Technology

How to cut back on scam calls with an iPhone

If you have an iPhone with the latest version of iOS,  there is a wonderful little setting on the phone that will send those unwanted scam and robocallers directly to voicemail.  
You can find the setting in your Settings app,  and under Phone,  look for “Silence Unknown Callers”.   This will allow your legit callers to reach you,  but if an unknown caller is trying to call you,  it will go directly to voicemail.  

Here is a screenshot from my phone where the setting is..


If you are not sure if you have the setting on your phone,  check with one of your family members. 

Categories
British Columbia

Know the Signs

The age old saying “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is” still applies today. No matter how sneaky fraudsters try to be, by keeping this in mind, you stand a better chance of warding off the bad guys. The best things in life may be free, but when you are asked for your credit card or personal information, it’s best to just leave it be. Beyond trusting your best instincts:

  • Review all fine print and terms and conditions before making a purchase.
  • Conduct open source searches to see if anybody has suggested the offer is a scam.
  • Beware of paid advertisements online. Paid banner ads are not always affiliated with the website you are viewing.
  • Prior to sending any funds or product, contact the person who requested the transfer in person or by telephone to confirm that the request is legitimate.
  • Beware of unusual or irregular email requests.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
  • Review credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges.
  • And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Categories
Archive

Fake Online Endorsements

Followers and likes doesn’t mean its good advice

Consumers are often enticed to purchase a product or service based on reviews by social media influencers or those with a significant online presence. Unfortunately, there’s a chance that these reviews are not genuine and have in fact been paid for by a company as a marketing tactic. By not revealing their business interests and creating what seem to be authentic experiences or opinions, these influencers are misleading consumers and could be subject to action under the Competition Act.