Thursday, March 16, 2017

Online Romance Scams - Protect Yourself

Romance scams
Social media sites such as Facebook and free online dating sites are the favoured means used by fraudsters to lure potential victims in to accepting their friendship, then swindling their hard earned money. This can often lead to financial hardship and a life time of embarrassment.
Millions of people are online connecting with people of similar interests. Criminals will gain your trust over a period of weeks through overt displays of affection while online. The fraudsters are patient and will wait for a level of trust to develop before mentioning the need for money, which will inevitably be brought up in some manner or another.
The fraudster presents themselves as a world traveller who works in a foreign country for extended periods of time. At some point the ploy will be introduced. They either want to meet you in person or they have come into some financial hardship that without your support will make their lives intolerable. They will ask for money to assist them and will always promise you that it will be paid back in full.
How to protect yourself
  • Be cautious of entering into relationships with people online if you have never met in person 
  • Remember, anyone can take on any persona online and if they are professing their love to you they are professing it to others as well
  • Do not accept friend requests on social media sites from people you do not know
  • Never send money to someone you have never met in person
  • Bells and whistles and alarm bells should be sounding when you hear they work in a distant country but actually reside near you
  • Never cash a cheque they send and they ask you to keep a portion of it. It is most likely stolen or fraudulent


For more information on current frauds and scams go to Government of Canada Anti Fraud website. 
              
Canada Revenue Agency Scam

This involves an individual calling you at home impersonating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), claiming a recent audit has identified discrepancies from past filed taxes. The caller states that repayment is required immediately. The caller will often threaten that failure to pay will result in additional fees and/or jail time or deportation. The caller then requests payment by a money service business or pre-paid cards / gift cards (i-tunes).

The second part of this scam involves consumers receiving an email indicating a refund is pending from the CRA. The email includes a link that directs consumers to a website that mimics the actual CRA. Consumers are told to input personal information before receiving the refund (email money transfer). Victims that input their information, including Social Insurance Number (SIN), Date of Birth (DOB), banking information, are subject to identity fraud. No refund is ever issued.

How to protect yourself

1.  The CRA will only use only registered mail to contact consumers and will never use email or contact you by phone.
  1.    If in doubt, contact the CRA to confirm you owe back taxes or are entitled to a refund    at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/cntct/menu-eng.html
3.   Never provide personal information to anyone over the phone. Ask who is calling, document information and do your homework.
4.   The CRA would never request payment by money service business or i-tunes gift cards.
5.   For more information about fraud scams involving the CRA, visit Protect yourself against fraud.
6.   If you've shared personal information, contact Equifax and Trans Union to place fraud alerts on your account.
7.   If you've mistakenly shared banking information, contact your financial institution to place alerts on your account.
8.   If you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to represent the CRA, it is a scam. Simply hang up on the call and if it is an email, delete it.
9.   If you were tricked into providing personal information, contact your local police agency. Otherwise , report the incident the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre at  http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre does not conduct investigations but provides valuable assistance to law enforcement agencies all over the world by identifying connections among seemingly unrelated cases. Your information may provide the piece that completes the puzzle

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