Year after year, millions of Canadians are the target of various telephone scams with the sole purpose of stealing the hard earned cash of consumers. Thieves take pleasure in duping unsuspecting people on a daily basis. The reality is fraud can ruin your credit, deplete your savings and give you a lifelong headache of financial troubles.
Every day fraudsters are getting more and more creative with their scams; and they will say and do just about anything to get you to part with your money. In fact, scam artists stole more than $6.2 million since 2014 in the deceiving Canada Revenue Agency phone call scam. Now scammers are getting more aggressive in their approach with Canadians and taken the CRA scam to another level. They’ve ditched the phone call method and now they want to target unsuspecting Canadians online. The new phase of the CRA scam is all about taking your money and stealing your identity too:
- Fraudsters are sending emails to CRA scam victims offering help to recover their lost funds
- Consumers are asked to pay upfront to receive help
- Individuals are asked to provide their personal information beforehand
- Emails appear to be from the CRA
Although recovering your money from a scam is welcome news – authorities are warning Canadians – to never send money or their personal information to the CRA through an email.
“It’s a shame so many consumers are struggling with their debt because of a scam. This is why we all have to be vigilant and protect not only our identity but also our finances whenever we go online,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“Remember not every email you open is legitimate. Scammers take a lot of time and effort to perfect their craft and catch you when you are the most vulnerable. When in doubt contact your local authorities for some guidance,” says Schwartz.
The month of March is fraud awareness month and during this month Canadians are reminded of the importance of recognizing the telltale signs of fraud. To help consumers fight back against fraud, the team at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada has created the following to help you improve your fraud prevention skills:
Don’t do it
Scam artists want access to your bank account and identity so if someone asks for your personal details by a phone call or email – don’t do it! Never feel pressured to provide your bank account or credit card information on any given day. Scammers will try to bully and guilt you into giving them what they want.
Are they real?
Scammers not only call and email – they can show up at your door step too. Instead of blindly supporting a charity you never heard of because they showed up at your door – do some due diligence and ensure they are legit. Log on to the CRA’s website to verify if a charity is legitimate or not.
Who’s on the phone?
Caller ID is great however to a point. Scammers know you have caller ID and this is why some criminals have altered the ID that pops up on your phone. So don’t be quick to trust the display on your caller ID screen. Instead listen to how the caller is treating you on the phone. Are they being aggressive? Are they treating your call like a life and death situation? Think twice before agreeing to anything over the phone. Better yet, when in doubt, hang up.
Watch your mail
Pay close attention to your monthly bills. Ensure you monitor your bills for transactions you did not authorize. If you notice anything suspicious – contact your billing company right away.
Secure your identity
Keep only the necessary ID you need on a daily basis. It’s not necessary to walk around with your social insurance number or birth certificate (unless you need to use it on that specific day). Also get in the habit of shredding documents with your personal information that you no longer need.
Fraud is a concerning problem affecting millions of Canadians. The only way to protect yourself from fraud and ward of years of debt is to think twice before you willingly release your bank or credit card information. Remember when in doubt, back out. If you’ve been a victim of fraud and now you are struggling to pay off your credit card debt, give Consolidated Credit a call at 1-888-294-3130 or go online to complete a free debt analysis