Being a victim of an identity theft scam can be devastating, both emotionally and financially. According to the latest statistics from the Canadian Anti-Fraud centre, identity fraud is in a bit of a good news/ bad news scenario. The good news is that, since 2012, the total reported dollar loss from victims is falling; however, the number of victims is rising, which means protecting yourself is crucial.
- Email scams are most common, with 66 per cent of victims having fallen prey to fraud through that method, followed by phone (20 per cent).
- Some of the most common “hooks” (getting hold of the victim) include convincing the victim that there is an emergency that requires them to pay a sum of money, paying for a false service, or convincing victims that they’ve won a prize.
”There is the potential for serious damage to your personal finances, credit and financial stability when you are a victim of identity theft. You have to be proactive in trying to identify potential threats at all times,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“There are a few golden rules in protecting yourself from identity theft. Never divulge your personal information or click on a suspicious link in an email. Don’t be shy to call a company to verify a call or an email is actually from them,” says Schwartz.
Here are some common scams in Canada.
You’re the winner!
Wouldn’t we all like something for nothing? You may receive a phone call or an email saying that you’ve won cash and prizes.
Unless you’ve entered a contest, this is blatant fraud. Even then, if you are contacted about winning something, when you are asked to divulge your personal information or “pre-pay” on taxes or fees for the alleged prize, don’t fall for it. This is a classic scam.
The missing link
If you receive an email with a link luring you to something interesting (get rich quick, celebrity news or gossip, health secrets or fake news), even if it is from someone you know, delete immediately. That link is loaded with malware, intended to infect your computer and get your financial info.
By the same token, sometimes fraudsters will use a copycat link trying to appear like a legitimate retailer to get you to log in and buy.
Always go directly to a retailer’s site to log in, rather than clicking on a link.
You may receive a phone call or email from a “relative” who needs money immediately because they’ve been hurt or injured while travelling. Not true. These are fraudsters making plans to take your money. Unfortunately, this scam targets seniors on a regular basis.
It’s not you, it’s me
If the phone ever rings with your own phone number on call display, don’t answer. It’s not you calling. It’s a fraudster trying to get you to pick up the phone to engage you in a conversation in an effort to get their hands on your info.
Have you ever been a victim to identity theft and are now trying to work your way out of debt? We can help you get your life back. Contact one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or visit our free online debt analysis.