Fraudsters are getting more sophisticated

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March is fraud prevention monthCriminals continue to prey on unsuspecting souls across all demographics, and are getting away with millions of dollars. In some cases, financially ruining families.

If you have received a phone call, authentic looking email or text from the Canadian Revenue Agency asking for personal information such as your credit card, bank account, or social insurance numbers, it’s a scam.

In its news release, the CRA said it will never ask for personal or financial information through an unsolicited email with a link, or text message. It also won’t ask for payment by prepaid credit or gift cards, or leave threatening voicemails. Even if the messages appear real you shouldn’t respond to them or click on any of their links. If you are in doubt, contact the CRA directly.

Anonymous missed calls may mean you have been targeted by the ‘one ring scam’. Fraudsters hope you will call back. Returned calls end up as pay-per-call scenarios which can add hundreds of dollars to your phone bill. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre advises not to return calls to numbers you don’t know.

Just recently Torontonians encountered another ‘transfer funds’ phone scam to the tune of $5.1 million. The scammer called a landline telling the victim their credit card had been fraudulently used, and to notify the authorities or their bank. Thinking the call was over, the victims made the call. Unfortunately, the fraudsters hadn’t hung up, and posed as the police or bank representative, urging the transfer of money until the ‘investigation’ was over.

Computer hackers have gained notoriety in recent years by stealing sensitive information from millions of individuals who dealt with some well-regarded organizations.

Gaining sensitive information is the starting point for much criminal activity. In January an Ontario man was accused of selling stolen identities, gained over the dark web, through his website.

Yes, there are laws to protect us and enforcement agencies are working non-stop to keep us safe. However, theft is big business and the scams keep getting more sophisticated. These examples are just a few of many.

March is Fraud Prevention Month, but we need to keep diligent every month. If something sounds suspicious, put your guard up.