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Seniors: Ways to Protect Yourself From Fraud

January 25th, 2023

Technology has made it much easier for crooks, or con artists, to steal information and funds from people through emails and anonymous phone call scams.

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open for these Scams

The Fake Relative One such scam is when a senior gets a phone call from someone who pretends to be a relative, such as a grandson, cousin or even a trusted person such as a pastor. The caller will pretend they are in trouble and need money. They may ask for bank account numbers and passwords to access the senior’s money or trick them into wiring money to them. 

The Fake Prize Another scam is when someone calls your telephone and announces that you have won a prize or a free trip. The caller will congratulate you and say that to get the free prize you only have to pay a small fee. This is when they ask for your credit card number or your bank account information. Never give this kind of information to a stranger calling over the telephone!

Fake Phone Call Some con artists may pretend they are calling from your bank, your credit card company or even the government such as Revenue Canada, telling you there is a problem with your bank account or tax return. They may tell you that you owe money to the government or there is a problem with your bank. They may say someone has used your financial accounts to withdraw a large sum of money. Then they attempt to get your personal information such as social insurance numbers, birth dates, and account numbers. Don’t give it to them!

Fake Emails Emails you receive are not always easy to identify as scams. The email may come with the official logo of the organization such as Canada Post or a telephone or cable company name. 

The email may invite you to click on links in the email. From there, they can trick you into sending money or giving your personal information without your consent. Or they may introduce a virus into your computer that can cause you major problems. Don’t let them!

SIMPLE TIPS TO AVOID GETTING SCAMMED 

1. Never give your personal or financial information to strangers calling on the telephone. 

2. If a caller says you can verify their identity by using a telephone number they give you, do not use this number. This is part of the scam. They are giving you their own telephone number. Con artists are clever!

3. If you are unsure who is calling you by phone, contact the organization directly, such as the bank, your credit card company or Revenue Canada and obtain the phone number on the official website or what is listed on your bill. Ask for a manager to find out if they need to talk to you about anything.

4. It is a good practice not to click on links in emails. If a friend or relative has sent you pictures by sending a link, check to make sure it was the person you know who sent it before you click on the link in the email. Con artists can be very clever and can find out the names of people you know and pretend to be them. 

If you are not sure about an e-mail, you can simply look up the organization’s official website on the internet for their email or telephone number. But do not respond to the e-mail unless you are sure it is genuine

5. If you are unsure who is calling you on the telephone or emailing you, do not be concerned that it is rude to assert yourself. Tell them firmly, “no thank you” and end the call. Or if it’s an email, ignore it.

You do not owe a stranger anything, especially over the telephone or through email. If someone needs to contact you for a legitimate reason, you can call their place of business with a phone number you locate yourself. If they are genuine, they will likely send you a formal letter through the post office as well.

6. Tell someone. It's always helpful to tell a friend, a caregiver or a family member if you are uncertain about someone calling or emailing you asking for financial or personal information or money. They can often help to figure out whether your caller is genuine or a con artist who is trying to take advantage of you.

Better to be safe than sorry!

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