New online tool to track scams across North America
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has launched a new tool in the fight against consumer fraud. The BBB Scam Tracker is a “crowdsourcing tool with a human touch” where consumers can report fraudulent and malicious activity in their local area and warn others. The free, interactive online tool provides support for consumers in real time and covers all of North America.
For example, if you suspect you may have been the victim of a scam, you can check the Scam Tracker and see if anyone else has had a similar experience. Not only does this tool help protect consumers; it helps gather information to assist law enforcement agencies in shutting these scammers down.
“Even the savviest consumer is vulnerable to fraud and scams. You’d be surprised what some people will do to get their hands on unsuspecting consumers’ money or identity. Needless to say, being a victim of a scam can potentially cause devastating financial and emotional damage that is long-lasting,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“You don’t have to be a victim. Outsmart the fraudsters by being proactive and protecting yourself.”
So, in order to protect yourself, what are some warning signs of a scam?
If it sounds too good to be true…..
The phone rings and you’ve won a cruise! Or a new car! Or boatloads of cash! You may be feeling very lucky, but your luck will turn sour if you share your personal information with these dubious giveaways.
Remember that scams come in many shapes and sizes. The Canadian Competition Board updates information regularly on what scams are common in Canada.
If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Stop this scam before it starts and hang up!
Cash only please
If you receive requests from telemarketers or via email seeking payment for a product or service in cash or money order, run for the hills. This is the hallmark of criminal activity. Cash and money order payments leave no trail, whereas credit cards do.
Know who you are talking to
Scammers will call and assume a role of authority, such as a lawyer or a representative from a government agency or bank. They will try to leverage that sense of power into getting you to divulge your personal or financial information. Never, ever give that away – especially over the phone.
Similarly, be wary of callers who are overly friendly and try to engage you in a lively, personal discussion. They are trying to get you to be comfortable so that you will reveal your personal information.
Be wary of phishing emails that request banking information. If something looks off, it probably is – financial institutions rarely request that kind of information by e-mail. Call the institution or company in question and make sure that they did indeed contact you.
Do you suspect that you or someone close to you has been the victim of a scam? Are you worried about the potential damage to your credit or to your financial health? Are you struggling financially as the result of fraud or a scam? We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.