Tax season is upon us. Unfortunately that means you may be targeted by scammers trying to trick you into giving them your hard earned cash.
Tech Tutors Onsite sat down with Provincial Constable Monique Baker of the Sault Ste. Marie O.P.P to get information about the latest scams and advice on how to stay aware of what hoaxes are out there and how to report them if you have been targeted or fallen victim.
“[Online and door to door scams] are a big business. A huge business. An illegal business,” states Monique. She explained that these con artists are professionals at what they do. They know what works, what doesn’t and who is most likely to become a victim.
The scam works like this. Someone will call you and impersonate an employee of the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and they will try to scare you with an intimidating voice saying you owe money to the Canadian Government for back taxes and you must pay immediately or you will go to jail.
New Twist To The CRA Tax Scam
The new twist to this scam is that the imposter will try to target those they already scammed money from. They will say that they can help them get their lost money back.
Those who have already been defrauded show that they are vulnerable and they get put on a special list that scammers can sell to other scammers. This consequently increases the chances of getting targeted a second time.
Simple Rules To Keep You Safe
Luckily there are a few very simple rules you can follow to prevent becoming a victim.
- Never give anyone your financial information over the phone or online.
- Don’t ever wire transfer money to someone you don’t know personally.
- Do not give away your personal identification type information if you are not 100% sure of who you are talking to. You could fall victim to identity theft.
- If you get a phone call from anyone asking for money or for a donation (even a charity you already donate to), we suggest hanging up and calling the company back at the number you know is real.
- When making purchases online try to pay with PayPal. Any reputable website should allow you to pay by PayPal. It is also a good practice to have a low limit credit card if you have no option to pay with PayPal.
- It is always better to have a second person confirm that who you are giving money to is legit. If you are unsure about what you are being asked to do (like wire money) please contact someone you trust first. Taking a minute to check with someone could save you a lifetime of regret!
Those who have older parents should have frequent discussions with them to go over these rules and explain to them what scams are currently happening and what the consequences are. Of all victims, seniors represent 85% of those consumers who have lost more than $5000 through telemarketers.*
People have been tricked out of thousands and thousands of dollars. People have had to sell their home after getting scammed and it has broken up families.
What Happens After Someone Becomes a Victim?
“It is extremely difficult to catch the scammers,” Monique explains, “Often, they have moved and they are gone before we can find them. Usually they are from other countries and in most cases, it is hard to trace back to them”.
One of the best things you can do is simply be aware of the scams currently happening. Bookmark the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website and check it often. They keep up to date information about common scams happening throughout Canada.
Remember – 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. A legitimate business will be happy to provide you with that information*
How to Report a Scam **
Step 1: Gather all information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
Step 2: Report the incident to your local law enforcement.
Step 3: Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System (FRS).
Step 4: Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent.
Step 5: If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website.
We thank Monique for talking to us and helping to keep our community aware and safe.
Stay safe out there.
References *Fact Sheet-Fraud Involving Older Adults – www.opp.ca ** http://www.antifraudcentre.ca/victim-victime/index-eng.htm