It’s nearly the holidays, and that means a whole new spate of scams to watch out for because even the global hardship brought on by the pandemic won’t stop fraudsters — if anything, it may be an incentive as both they and the people they’re scamming are desperate.
The federal government has released a list of specific tricks that residents in Toronto and nationwide should be careful not to fall victim this season, from the general to the oddly specific.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is even running a “12 days of holiday scams” campaign to highlight how people get swindled out of cash around this time of year.
Some of the scams are the ones we always have to be wary of: phony “you’ve won” messages, romance scams, people asking for payment in gift cards and identity theft and fraud.
#DufferinOPP would like everyone to be aware of a COVID hydro Rebate scam circulating around. Customers are being contacted and advised they qualify, & need to confirm personal account information, which includes banking information. #KnowFraud @canantifraud @OvilleHydro ^kv pic.twitter.com/zwhHAz1tpq
— OPP Central Region (@OPP_CR) December 15, 2020
There’s also the classic emergency scam — someone who’s fallen on hard times and needs some cash — or the phishing emails and texts, like Canada Revenue Agency and hydro scams in recent weeks.
And then there are the ones that are more common during the holidays specifically, such as counterfeit merchandise purchased as a gift, or people trying to full-on rob you during meetups for aftermarket goods such as the much-sought-after PS5.
DAY 1: COUNTERFEIT GOODS are usually found highly discounted on websites that look like a legitimate brand. The products are inferior and could pose significant health risks. pic.twitter.com/9MOjAT5MnS
— Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (@canantifraud) December 1, 2020
This is also the time of year where many donate to charity, so citizens must be vigilant in making sure they are actually giving money to the charity someone says they are collecting on behalf of, and that said charity is authentic and registered.
And apparently, even Secret Santa gift exchanges can be a coverup for a con in which your personal info is stolen and an illegal “pyramid scheme where only those on the top profit” is hidden.
My annual reminder to NOT participate in these things. Except I made a video about it this year. pic.twitter.com/qPhcDq22T8
— Amber T. Morrell (@atmorrell) December 16, 2020
Also to worry about are the taxi debit machine scams, the good ol’ sent-money-for-a-puppy-and-never-got-it scam, and the many pandemic-related scams of this year, which now include a rouse in which you are promised a spot at front of the line for COVID-19 immunization or told you will get paid to participate in a clinical vaccine trial.
There’s even a new bereavement scam where criminals pose as parties collecting debt from the deceased, showing just how absolutely heartless scammers can be — something also made evident by the fact that frauds have gone up 36 per cent this year in Canada, despite how financially and otherwise devastating 2020 has already been for the world at large.