Protecting Yourself From Fraud


There are thousands of scams out there.  Everything from phone calls telling you you have won a trip somewhere, to an email from a foreign dignitary who has funds stuck in a foreign country, to the door-to-door salesman who claims to have the answers to all your problems.

Think you wouldn't fall for it?

Thousands of Canadians are defrauded each year.  Scammers have professional marketing materials, telephone scripts, and offers that are too good to be true.  They put you at ease with their friendly tone, have explanations for your tough questions, and give you a pitch that sounds like the real thing.  Sometimes scammers even pretend to be from a legitimate organization.  It can be hard to pick out the scammers from legitimate business people, which is why you have to protect yourself:

- Don't give out your social insurance number or driver's licence numbers on the phone or Internet.

- Ask for written information that you can check into it.

- Take time to think about the offer.  Don't react hastily.

- Ask for valid references and check them.

- Ask for a call-back number (but beware that some crooks are ready for this, and have people standing by to take calls of this nature).

- Shred unwanted personal documents such as transaction records, and tax returns.

Winning Prize Scam

This scam comes in the form of a telephone call or email, and says you won a big lottery prize or a trip.   The catch is, you must send money before you can collect.  It is a fraud and you will lose your money!  Legitimate companies never charge fees to deliver your prize.  This is one of the most common scams, and if you send money, you will never get it back.

What Are Some Signs to Be Cautious of

- The caller is too excited

- He/ She demands an immediate answer 

- You receive a large cheque that you know nothing about

- You must pay fees before you can collect your prize

- You are asked for credit card or financial account numbers, or copies of personal documents

Nigerian Scam

Another common scam is the Nigerian Scam.  A person calls or send a letter or email stating that he/she has money stuck in a foreign country and require outside assistance to get their money out.  You are offered a large portion of the money if you help.  You just need to provide your financial account information so the money can be transferred.

On-Line Scams

Online messenging is a common practice these days.  Often people join chatrooms and meet people online that they talk to.  A lot of vital information can be passed in general conversation, and many people get burned by telling too much. 

Sometimes the person you think you are talking to, isn't that person at all.  It's easy to pretend to be someone when you're only contact is messenging.

There are instances where people made "friends" and were told a sob story of how they needed money for something important.  The friend, believing the story, tries to help by lending them some money or buying them a plane ticket, etc. 

Love interests developed online are also avenues for scams.  Instances have been reported of people being scammed out of their savings by people who claim to be in love with them.  They transfer some money to "start a life together" or to take a trip together, only to discover after-the-fact that they were being conned all along.

Talk to Someone

Talk to your credit union.  Your credit union is often aware of the scams that are in circulation and can assist you in understanding whether the offer you have received is legitimate or not.  

If you fall victim to a scam, call the police or PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501 right away.


Source: Scam Protection brochure - A Credit Union Central of Canada Publication