Friday, 17 July 2015

Scam Alerts & Tips to Protect Yourself Summer 2015

Monthly Fraud & Scam AlertAugust 2015

 Three Recent Scams to watch for:

1. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Scam
    Method: email & telephone calls
Email: We recently received one of these emails to our business email address. We knew that the CRA does not make initial contact via email or telephone call; however, to a lay person, these emails can appear very convincing. These scammers take advantage of a common fear of the taxman; even threatening to file a lawsuit backed by the full force of the Canadian Government if payment is not made immediately.

Tip: See what email address reply emails are sent to simply by hitting “Reply”. We did this and it was clearly obvious it was not a CRA or Canadian Government email address (in addition, the email address they typed at the top of the email did not match the reply one). Of course, do not actually send a reply & never click a link in an email you are not 100%certain of.
Phone: The BBB has seen a dramatic increase in calls from consumers who report being called by someone claiming to be a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Agent. “The scam artists gives a fake ID badge number and threatens the consumer with arrest by the RCMP if back payment of owed taxes are not paid immediately. Consumers are then instructed to wire money to a fake CRA account.

Again, CRA would send you a formal letter and would never request money be wired to them. Never wire money to any stranger in response to an email or phone call without doing your due diligence. To be safe, just never do it at all’ there are far safer ways of sending funds (e.g. Interac).

Tip: ask the caller to recite your Social Insurance Number. Legitimate CRA agents would have this & other personal security information on hand. Alternatively, ask them to leave a number so you can call them back when you are not busy – then look it up. You should quickly be able to ascertain if it is a CRA or Government of Canada number. The majority of telephone scammers & aggressive phone solicitors now use VOIP (voice over IP) numbers so never be fooled because a number “looks real”.

2. Redirected Robocalls
Method: Telephone calls
We recently booked flights with both Air Canada & WestJet but it is unclear if this is how the scammers obtained our telephone number. Receiving these calls shortly after booking may lull some people into believing they are legit.

Victims are called and told they have won a prize from a recorded call claiming to be affiliated with a reputable company, such as WestJet, (we receive calls from “Westjet and Air Canada”). It turns out that all they end up winning is a sales pitch for a cheap vacation or worse. The telephone number looks local because they use VOIP; however, the calls originate from Malaysia & The Philippines. They can be extremely aggressive; calling daily, and will simply hang up in your face when you request to be removed from their call list – only to call again the next day.

3.  Security Breach of Information (Big Box Stores)
Method: Hacking, email, & telephone calls
Two – pronged scam

First, the hack. Your personal and financial information has been stolen by hackers to be used for Identity Theft.

Second, the scoop. Scammers call victims of these hacks; pretending to be the big-box store, credit agency, or credit-protection/ security company. The purpose of the call is to trick the victim into giving their personal information or to get them to pay for "Identity protection” (that doesn’t exist). They may obtain the victim's name from the original hack or they just cold call until they "hit" a victim. This scam literally causes the victim to be scammed twice, doubling their exposure to identity theft.

Tip: Use credit cards instead of store-cards & debit cards. Virtually all credit card companies have zero-liability policies; however, by using a debit card, you will likely not be able to recover a cent stolen from you. If you do open a store-card, only give them the information needed & no extra. They intentionally collect information on customers for advertising purposes. Ensure that all of your banking passwords for accounts & credit cards are different so that if they hack one account, they can't get into others. Check your credit report; doing so can alert you of hacking before the store or the news announces it.

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