On March 12, FCAC will be participating in “2 Good 2 Be True” Day, during which Canadians will be encouraged to talk about fraud on Twitter using the #2good2Btrue hashtag and share tips for recognizing, reporting and stopping it. They can also share experiences they’ve had and scams they’re aware of. To educate the public about financial crimes and fraud, a one-hour forum on Twitter called “#Fraudchat” takes place every Thursday, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST. This live online chat, moderated by the Financial Crimes Unit of the Toronto Police Service and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), seeks to educate and exchange ideas with the public about financial crimes and fraud through the use of social media.
“This investment will give you high returns with little or no risk—guaranteed!” “Act now, tomorrow will be too late!” “Don’t tell anyone else—then everyone will know about this loophole!” These pitches are only a few of the red flags that will help you recognize scams and frauds.
“One of the most effective ways to keep yourself safe is to learn how to spot a possible fraud,” says Ursula Menke, Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). “To help consumers who want to learn more about fraud, the Agency has developed a wide range of materials—including videos, tip clips, case studies, tip sheets and quizzes.”
During Fraud Prevention Month 2013, #Fraudchat will cover the following topics:
- March 7: home renovation scams
- March 14: auto insurance fraud
- March 21: life insurance fraud
- March 28: staged motor-vehicle accident fraud.
Financial fraud is a growing problem worldwide. In Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received almost 39,000 complaints of mass marketing fraud with reported losses of over $53 million in 2012. Another 17,000 claims related to identity fraud/identity theft, and cost victims more than $16 million. In many cases, victims are too embarrassed to report fraud or even tell their family and friends they’ve been scammed, making it easier for fraudsters to ensnare new victims.
What can you do to keep your money and your financial information safe? Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud, as well as what to do if you are scammed.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Don’t share personal information freely.
- Destroy documents with personal information.
- Keep your wallet or purse safe.
- Don’t carry ID you don’t need, such as your Social Insurance Number (SIN).
- Lock your household mailbox if possible.
- Check your credit report once a year (you can order it for free from the two credit reporting agencies).
- Make sure websites are secure before transmitting personal information.
- Delete emails that ask for personal information.
- Keep computer firewalls and spyware filters up to date.
- Keep your computer passwords in a safe place.
- Be skeptical—if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Save paper bank records for at least a year in a safe place.
Steps to report fraud:
- File a report with your local police.
- Advise all financial institutions and other companies where you have accounts, such as your phone or cable provider, about the fraud.
- Contact Canada’s two credit reporting agencies, and ask them to put a fraud alert on your file.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre‘s national call centre at 1-888-495-8501 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Write down the steps you take as you report the fraud.
FCAC’s website has information on identity fraud, debit card fraud, credit card fraud, email and phone fraud and real estate fraud. Online Fraud includes tips on how to prevent identity theft and fraud when using public wireless Internet access and social networking sites. There are also tips on spotting housing frauds and scams, employment fraud, investment fraud, payment scams and other kinds of financial fraud.