You may know someone who has been victimized by a scam, either online or over the phone.
Campbell River Notary Public Gurdeep Sidhu is troubled by the fact he still sees citizens, often elderly citizens, continuing to be the target if scams. In the worst situations, citizens have been defrauded out of thousands of dollars by unscrupulous criminals.
The common scams in recent months involve the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), computer technical support and romance scams, he says. Gurdeep recommends having discussions with people who are close to you to reduce the chances of getting scammed. “People should be careful with requests or demands that seem unusual,” he says. “If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to contact your family or professionals such as your financial advisor, accountant or notary public.”
Here’s 5 tips to keep from being defrauded:
- Beware the fake taxman – If someone calls or emails from “the CRA” saying you owe taxes and pressures you to pay up, don’t respond to them, as the tax department doesn’t communicate in this manner. If you are signed up with CRA to receive emails, they will direct you to log in to your tax account to find out details of any issue that requires your attention. “If a client doesn’t have online access, they should visit their accountant or tax preparer to give authority to look up the tax account.”
- Fear tactics are a red flag – If someone calls or emails to say immediate payment is needed and threatens legal action, it’s usually a scam, Gurdeep says. “A good thing to say is ‘let me check with my accountant.’ Such a statement will show that you will not give in to pressure, that the scam will be discovered, and scammers end things quickly.”
- Unsolicited affections are doubly harmful – So-called “love scams,” Gurdeep says, “victimize people not just financially, but also emotionally.” Trust is gained over time through affectionate interactions, to the point where cash or items of financial value are handed over. And keeping such relationships secret from those close to you keeps the fraudster’s actions hidden! “Your loved ones will not judge you, but will help you,” Gurdeep says.
- Travelling family member – Some scammers hack into emails or call pretending to be a family member who ran into problems while travelling. They then ask for money to be sent to rescue them.
- Other warning signs – Requests for transfers of money through Western Union, and asking you not to tell anyone, are definite red flags.
Speaking to someone before taking action on any such requests – regardless if it seems legitimate – is always smart, Gurdeep says. “Seniors can be especially vulnerable, as they trust easily. Since they want to see the word as a good place, they take action to fix the situation. And that’s what scammers want.”
Learn other ways to avoid scams on this Government of Canada web page. There are also various YouTube videos you can watch to make yourself aware. Gurdeep pledges to help – contact his office at 250-287-3445.