Safety Tips

INTRODUCTION

BCCPA Safety Tips are designed to serve as one-page handouts on topics related to various crime prevention and safety issues. If you have a topic that you would like a Safety Tip document developed for, email info@bccpa.org with your ideas.

Below you will find the latest Safety Tips, become a BCCPA member to gain access to archived and printable Safety Tips tip sheets.

Safety Tip Sheets

Telemarketing is a method of adverting a company may use in which salespeople solicit prospective customers to buy products or services. This may be over the phone or through recorded sales pitches. The practice of telemarketing is a legitimate business practice that is governed by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission National Do Not Call List.

It is always important to be on guard with your personal and financial information. Legitimate telemarketers have nothing to hide. Criminals will say anything to part you from your hard-earned money.

  • Be cautious. You have the right to check out any caller by requesting written information, a call back number, references and time to think over the offer.
  • Legitimate business people will be happy to provide you with the information. Never provide confidential personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller. If you have doubts about a caller, your best defence is to hang up.

If you are in doubt, seek the advice of a close family member or friend, or even a professional in the community. Rely on people you can trust. Remember, to Stop Phone Fraud – Just Hang Up!

 

It sounds too good to be true

You have won a big prize in a contest that you do not recall entering. They offer a once-in-a-lifetime investment that promises a huge return. You are told that you can buy into a lottery ticket pool that cannot lose.

 

You must provide private financial information

“You’re a winner!” but must agree to send money to the caller in order to pay for delivery, processing, taxes, duties or some other fee in order to receive the prize. Sometimes the caller will send a courier to pick up.

 

The manager is calling

Often criminal telemarketers ask for cash or a money order, rather than a cheque or credit card. Cash is untraceable and can not be cancelled. Crooks also have difficulty establishing themselves as merchants with legitimate credit card companies.

 

The stranger wants to become your best friend

Criminals love finding out if an individual is lonely and willing to talk. Once they identify a person, they will try to convince them they are a good friend – most individuals do not suspect their friends of being criminals.

 

You must pay or you can not play

The caller asks for confidential banking and/or credit card information. Honest businesses do not require these details unless they are using that specific method of payment.

 

Will that be cash… or cash?

The caller asks for confidential banking and/or credit card information. Honest businesses do not require these details unless that specific method of payment is being used.

 

The caller is more excited than you are

The person calling claims to be a government official, tax officer, banking official, lawyer or some other person in authority. The person identifies you by your first name and asks a lot of personal or lifestyle questions (like how often do your grown children visit).

 

It is a limited time opportunity

If pressured to make a big purchase decision immediately, it is probably not a legitimate deal. Real businesses or charities will provide a chance to check out or think about it.

 

Reporting an Incident

It is not always easy to spot a scam, and new ones are invented every day. If you suspect that you may be a target of fraud, or have already sent funds, do not be embarrassed – you are not alone. If you want to report a fraud, or if you need more information, contact the local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Another option is to visit www.antifraudcentre.ca for alternate ways to report.

It is not rude to hang up on suspicious calls. Criminal telemarketers are relentless. Victims report receiving 5 or more calls a day, wearing down their resistance. Often, once an individual has succumbed to this ruthless fraud, their name and number get entered onto a “sucker list”, which is sold from one criminal to another.

 

Additional information about the National Do Not Call List can be found at www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca.

 

The Canada Revenue Agency maintains a Charities Listings. Find out if a charity is registered, revoked or suspended, including contact information and general activities visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html.

 

The Better Business Bureau has developed an online Scam Tracker, allowing users to search for scams in their community visit www.bbb.org/scamtracker/mbc.

 

*Excerpted from resources found at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre www.antifraudcentre.ca

 

BCCPA Members can access a printable PDF Tip Sheet by logging into the Members page.

In the current online era, gone are the days of flocking to one’s favourite retail outlet in search for the ‘too good to be true’ bargain. According to Stats Canada, Canadians spent $22.3 billion dollars on online shopping in 2012 and 51% of Canada’s Internet users made online purchases in 2010. Canadians spent an average of $1,362.00 on online purchases in 2010.

Many choose to shop online for the convenience, choice, ease of comparing prices and researching product details. They enjoy freedom from the crowds and better deals for the goods they seek. Be cautious, these online deals may cost you more than you bargained for.

Any time you provide your personal email address, shipping address, phone number and credit card information, you assume the risk of your information being seen by cyber predators.

 

Online Shopping and Auction Risks

  • Becoming a victim of fake e-commerce sites created with the purpose of obtaining personal information that leads to identity theft or hacking. These sites may offer incredible deals that appear hard to pass up, and then disappear weeks later.
  • Becoming a victim of a scam or fraud by unscrupulous sellers who never send the item(s) you purchased.
  • Doing business on sites that are not encrypted, risks unauthorized access to your personal information.
  • Scams by international sites that are not secure or do not have reputable sellers.
  • Paying more than you expected due to hidden charges, duties or shipping.
  • The item you buy may not meet Canadian safety or quality standards.
  • You might find yourself dealing with fraudulent escrow sites that take your money.
  • Legitimate escrow sites make payments on your behalf to safeguard large-ticket purchases. Criminals behind escrow scams create fake sites intended to look identical to the real thing.
  • Getting stuck by browser traps that do not allow you to click the back button, or the same window continues to pop up after closing.

 

Be aware of online shopping sites that:

  • Look poorly designed, unprofessional and contain broken links, or have no contact information for the business.
  • Contain sales, return and privacy policies that are hard to find or unclear.
  • Ask for credit card information anytime other than when you are making a purchase.

 

Online Shopping Safety Tips

  • Double check the website is secure. Look for
  • a lock icon or unbroken key in the bottom right corner of the screen or a website address that begins with https://.
  • Pay by credit card if you can. Do not send cash or money orders.
  • Be on the lookout for prices that are too good to be true. They are likely counterfeits and may not meet Canadian safety or quality standards.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi to shop online.
  • Read the privacy policy and find out how your information will be used.
  • Do not respond to an email or pop-up message
  • that asks for financial information.
  • Make sure your firewall is “on”.
  • Do not allow auto fill for your passwords or personal information, and never allow a site to store your credit card information.

 

Online Auctions:

  • Check out the seller’s feedback rating. If it’s more than 2% negative, take your business elsewhere.
  • Stay on the site to place your bid and complete the transaction. If the seller wants to negotiate by email, steer clear.
  • If you are the seller, make sure a payment clears before you send the item.
  • Keep a paper trail of receipts, emails and any other correspondence.
  • Ask about using an escrow service if the item is expensive. Escrow agents will hold your payment until they have been notified that the goods or services have been received. They will then send payment on your behalf to the seller. You never have direct contact and your information is protected.

 

*Adapted from resources found at www.getcybersafe.gc.ca – A national awareness campaign to educate Canadians about Internet security

 

BCCPA Members can access a printable PDF Tip Sheet by logging into the Members page.

Although March is Fraud Prevention Month, being aware of scams that are circulating is not a one-month activity. Fraudsters gain access to personal information and funds from unsuspecting individuals every day of the year.

Awareness is the key to preventing yourself from becoming victim to unscrupulous fraudsters.

Remember, if it is too good to be true, it often is. Never grant anyone access to your personal or financial information. Never respond to unsolicited emails or phone calls. If you believe you have become a victim of fraud contact your local police.

Here are just a few of the many frauds individuals fall victim to everyday. For more examples of other scams please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

 

Vacation Scams: Individuals receive a call advising they have won a vacation. Real company names such as Expedia, Air Miles, Air Canada and WestJet are used. The caller advises the potential victim that they are a preferred customer and have been awarded a credit or discount on a trip if booked immediately. High pressure sales tactics are used and the caller will request a credit card number in order to pay for fees such as taxes.

 

Timeshare Re-sale Scams: Timeshare owners are solicited over the phone and made an offer to sell their timeshare. In some cases the owner has advertised their timeshare for sale on the Internet. The suspect promises a quick sale with a high profit margin. Various fees are requested up front prior to the final sale; this includes maintenance fees, escrow fees and fees to cover taxes. Documentation and correspondence with the victim is conducted on a professional level to provide a level of authenticity. Victims are often solicited by companies in the United States but are required to transfer funds to bank accounts in Mexico through a bank to bank wire transfer.

 

Mystery Shopper Job Scam: Suspects use free online classified websites to recruit potential victims. The victim answers an enticing ad to become a mystery shopper. The ‘employer’ sends a letter, with mystery shopping tasks to be completed, and a cheque to help the victim fulfill their mystery shopping tasks. The victim will likely cash the cheque they were given first. One of the tasks will be to use a money transfer company and wire a large portion of the money to a name provided, in order to test the company’s procedure and customer service skills. The victim will find out later that the cheque is counterfeit, thus making the victim accountable to pay for the funds that were wired.

 

Ransomware: A pop up message shows up on the computer stating “This IP address was used to visit websites containing pornography, child pornography, zoophile and child abuse. Your computer also contains video files with Pornographic content, elements of violence and child pornography! Spam messages with terrorist motives were also sent from your computer.” The messages are socially engineered to appear as if coming from either the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) or the RCMP and tell the consumer they need to pay $100-$250 via Bitcoin, Ukash or PaySafe Card to unlock their computer.

 

The Emergency Scam: Fraudsters use social media, the Internet and newspapers to target potential senior victims, a call is received claiming to be a family member or a close friend advising about an urgent situation that requires immediate funds. Common themes have been that the family member was arrested or got into an accident while traveling abroad. Fees are required for hospital expenses, lawyer fees or bail. Usually the potential victim is instructed to send money via a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram.

 

Romance Scam: Fraudsters are targeting individuals who have turned to the Internet to seek a romantic mate. The suspect will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection and will communicate through the phone and email for months if needed to build that trust. The suspect may claim to be located in a foreign country but will want to meet up with the victim in person. It is at this time that the suspect will advise that they can’t afford to travel and will ask for money to cover travel costs. Other variations include the suspect claiming that there is an emergency with a sick relative and will ask for money to cover medical expenses.

 

Microsoft/Windows technician Scam: Suspects pretend to represent a well- known computer based company like Microsoft and claim that the victim’s computer is sending out viruses or has been hacked and must be cleaned. The suspect will remotely gain access to the computer and may run some programs or change some settings. The suspect will then advise that a fee is required for the service of cleaning and request a credit card number to cover the payment. In some cases the suspect will send a transfer from the victim’s computer through a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram. The end result is that the victim pays for a service that was not needed as the computer was never infected.

 

Business Executive Scam: a phishing type wire fraud currently targeting businesses. The potential victim receives an email that appears to come from their employer’s human resources or technical support department. Suspects create email addresses that mimic that of the real departments. An email message will be sent to the accounting department advising that the ‘executive’ is working off-site and has identified an outstanding payment that needs to be made as soon as possible. The ‘executive’ instructs the payment to be made and provides a name and a bank account where the funds, generally a large dollar amount, are to be sent. Losses are typically in the excess of $100,000.00. Financial Industry wire frauds occur when Canadian financial institutions and investment brokers receive fraudulent email requests from what they believe to be an existing client. Unbeknownst to them, the email account of their client has been compromised. A request is sent by the suspect to the financial institution/investment broker to have money transferred from “their” bank account usually to a foreign bank account.

 

BCCPA Members can access a printable PDF Tip Sheet by logging into the Members page.

Everyone plays a role in the fight against fraud. Learn to recognize, reject and report it.

 

Over the phone: Legitimate telemarketers have nothing to hide. Criminals will say anything to get your personal information or money. They might pretend to be a family member in an emergency. They might tell you that you have won a vacation, or have a hot new investment to sell. They pressure you to make a quick decision.

 

In a Text Message: Many businesses are turning to text messaging as a way of communicating with their customers and clients. Criminals are also sending texts about fake job offers, tax refunds, or promoting offers via links to click on. They may sound official, but legitimate organizations will not request for personal or financial information via text. If unsure, always call the organization back at a listed business phone number to confirm the legitimacy of the text.

 

At your Door: The aim is to convince you into purchasing a product or services you do not need. Some common door to door scams include: services for home repairs or maintenance, utility company scams, impersonating a charity, surveys, fake investment opportunities, and free home inspections.

 

In the Mail: Letters advising of a large inheritance, a lottery prize winning or fake cheques. Legitimate lottery companies will never request money up front in order to receive a prize. Never deposit a cheque and send a portion of the money on to a third party. Businesses can be targeted by phony past-due invoices demanding payment for a service they never requested.

 

In an Email: Also called phishing, these email messages contain links to fake websites that look like the real sites. Criminals hope you will click on the link and provide personal information and financial information. Sometimes these emails contain attachments that when opened can infect your computer with malicious viruses or spyware. Often the email looks like it came from a friend or someone in your contact list. If you are not sure, do not reply to the email, click on any links, or open any attachments. Contact the company or your friend first to verify the nature of the email.

 

Online scams: Ads for free trials or free gifts after completing a survey may look like a good offer. But you may be signing up for something and not know it, leading to an unexpected bill in the mail. Exercise caution if you are required to provide credit card information to pay for the free trial shipping and handling. Read the fine print before signing up for a free sample.

 

Criminal may post phony online classified ads or impersonate a real online store. They might sell knock-offs, or ask you to wire money somewhere to pay for an item. Before placing an order, review the website’s “About Me” page, search for it on the web or on social media. Its credibility should be ascertained before placing an order.

 

It is important to be protective of your personal and financial information. Ask yourself:

  • Can the offer or company/organization be verified with a credible source? The Better Business Bureau or industry registration or licensing bodies can provide consumer based information about a business. Charities can be verified through the Canada Revenue Agency Charities Listings at cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html
  • Have you had enough time to make a decision? Legitimate businesses will allow you time to review a contract and provide opportunities to ask for additional information.
  • Is the risk you are taking reasonable for the expected return? In general, low-risk investments are in the range of current GIC rates offered by banks. If the expected return is higher than these rates, you are taking a greater risk with your money. Make sure you understand and can afford the amount of risk you’re taking on. Understand the investment fully before signing any contract.
  • Is the method of payment secure? Look for the “https” in the URL when using online payment platforms. Exercise caution when e-transferring funds to e-mail addresses not associated with a business domain.
  • What happens with my personal information? When providing personal information, what will the organization do with the information and do they require it for the relationship you maintain with them?

 

BCCPA Members can access a printable PDF Tip Sheet by logging into the Members page.