You know who has made the pandemic work for them? Fraudsters. Our columnist was an unfortunate victim
Anybody else feel like it is a full-time job avoiding scammers?
I am almost afraid to open an email, my door or answer the phone for fear of being bombarded by some phony offer.
March happens to be Fraud Prevention Month.
It is timely then for me to admit I got conned.
No, I didn’t believe I had an unknown uncle in Nigeria who left me a fortune. I didn’t even fall for the romance scam where the guy was so enchanted by my picture that he must strike up a friendship (and borrow money).
The RCMP reports extortion scams are now the No. 1 for the number of reports received.
In 2020, Canadians lost $12.5 million to extortion scams.
Financial, romance — whatever it may be — fraud is running rampant.
With more people self-isolating and being away from friends and most social activities it means we are all more vulnerable. We are doing a lot more online.
This has not been lost on crooks.
For instance, during the last year, there has been so many more package deliveries.
Honestly, I forget what I ordered, when or from where. I also rarely know which company might be delivering.
Sometimes its being delivered by Canada Post, sometimes Amazon and sometimes by a guy in a blue car. I have no idea.
I hadn’t heard this one.
This is my story.
I got an email from UPS (United Parcel Service) saying they had tried to deliver a package to me twice and it gave the dates and said it required a signature.
It went on to say it would be kept at the UPS warehouse for one day and then sent back to the sender, but I would be on the hook for the return cost of postage.
It did not outline who the package was from or what it might be.
In my defence, I was thinking because it is tax time it might be some important document I needed for the accountant.
The email used the UPS logo I was familiar with and the correct colours and had all kinds of contact info included (anyone can copy and paste).
I did question why I didn’t receive a notice at the door saying they had tried to deliver a parcel. I also questioned why they gave me only one day notice to go pick it up.
There was also an option to pay extra and have them deliver it again.
I opted to do that. All that was required was $2.11.
Since, it was so cheap I set that up… using my credit card!
Clearly, I wasn’t thinking!
It never even occurred to me they would then be in possession of my card and able to use it for much more than two bucks.
By the next day, my Spidey senses had kicked in and I did some follow-up.
I called the local UPS office, directly, to ask if this sounded like normal business practice.
I told the man there was a tracing code for the package. He asked how many digits.
When I said eight, he then asked, “Did they ask for two bucks?”
“Yeah, it’s a scam. Cancel your credit card.”
Thankfully, mine had not yet been compromised.
So, because of my own actions, I am without a credit card for 10 days until I get a new one and then I have the enjoyment of notifying all the companies I deal with to change my number.
The best advice is to never give out your card number unless you have initiated the call, but we get so bombarded and so busy it is easy to get careless.
This was just one example.
There must be millions of different scams out there. It seems like a new one every hour.
There will soon be a slew of potential requests from supposed tax people for your banking information. Don’t give it.
In the time we are living you could even get an offer to get you to the head of the line for a COVID shot in exchange for some cash. It is not possible.
Most frauds involve you purchasing gift cards. No legitimate business wants you to pay your bill with gift cards.
If there is always a sense of urgency to the plea, question that.
I guess my advice is trust your gut!
Call the police and ask. Call the Better Business Bureau. Call your smart friends.
Investigators says only about five per cent of scams are ever reported because it is embarrassing to think you got suckered.
Police say when you hear about a scam tell your family and friends. Take the “Tell two people approach” to get the word out there.
So, here I am telling way more than two people.
I got taken. Don’t be like me.