March 2023 marks the 19th anniversary of Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, a month-long crime prevention initiative aimed at educating and informing consumers and the community on how to recognize, report, and stop fraud.
The theme of this week is a focus identify theft and fraud, which is unfortunately is common way individuals are scammed. Scammers will use a variety of technique to gain your information. Once they have your valuable personal details, they will use it to their financial advantage.
One common method is phishing techniques, either by phone or email, where they pretend to be legitimate businesses, government officials, your relatives, or even the police, and will try to collect personal information such as credit card, driver’s licenses, social insurance, passport numbers.
Once they obtain that personal information, they may try to use it to open bank accounts or take out loans/credit cards in your name. At times, scammers may even steal mail belonging to other people in order to collect personal information. Although this isn’t as typical now, it can still happen.
If your personal data is compromised, please notify your local police service and contact agencies such as Equifax and Transunion to flag your personal information.
There are several ways to protect yourself from falling victim to these scams:
• Never respond to unsolicited requests from a company by phone or email requesting personal information.
• If you receive a notification that you have won a prize from a contest that you have never participated in, you didn’t win. Do not respond.
• If you receive a request from a company you are currently involved with, whether you work for them or are a client and they are requesting money or personal information, contact your local branch of that institution directly to ensure it is legitimate.
• If you receive unsolicited mail, either via email or regular mail, do your research on the company before conducting business with them. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to confirm if they are a legitimate business with a positive reputation.
The best rule of thumb to protect yourself is to always be skeptical. Educate yourself on ways to protect your money and seek advice if you are concerned that something might be a scam. The police can always be contacted for advice in regards to potential frauds. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website (www.antifraudcentre.ca) is a great resource and contains information about many different fraud types.
Sgt Adam Gregory
Medicine Hat Police Service
Community Support Unit