Did you know that anyone is vulnerable to a scam? Even the RCMP have had their logo reproduced and used in scams across the country.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has released the top scams committed over the past year, with the hope of warning potential fraud victims:
10. USED CARS – Seller hides the vehicle’s accident or repair history, true mileage, or perhaps does not even legally own the vehicle.
9. FAKE CHARITIES – Fraudsters take advantage of emotional news stories (Ebola, natural disasters etc.), and develop fake websites to accept donations for affected families or victims.
8. REMOTE COMPUTER REPAIR – Thieves call victims claiming to be from a reputable computer company (e.g. Microsoft) and claim that the victim has a computer virus. In order to fix the problem, they ask for information about passwords, personal information, even banking information.
7. FAKE FACEBOOK REQUESTS – You receive a friendship request from someone you already have friended. Once you accept their request, they prime you for personal information.
6. ON-LINE DATING – “Catphishers” send you their personal email right away. Once you respond outside of the dating site, you are at risk for identity theft. Once a relationship is built, the person asks you to send them money to get them out of a personal problem.
5. OVERDUE UTILITY BILLS – A caller claims your account, for Hydro or other utility is overdue and threatens to cut off your account if you do not apply payment directly. They usually accept payment via a pre-paid VISA gift card or by VISA.
4. INVESTMENT SCAMS – Usually accessed via social groups, or social networking, the scammer gets people to “invest” in an idea, such as a Ponzi scheme or Pyramid Scheme.
3. ROBO CALLS – Automatic calls are placed, purporting to offer vacations or prizes, but usually involve sales pitches or charges for the phone call.
2. BIG BOX DATA BREACHES – Target, Home Depot, and Staples all had their customer information hacked in 2014, leaving customers vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
1. FAKE ON-LINE REVIEWS – Many on-line reviews are written by business owners themselves, employees, or ad sales companies, and may not be genuine representation of the product or restaurant.
Most scams are geared towards either identity theft or outright fraud, and use the telephone and/or websites. Consumers can protect themselves by remaining alert and NEVER revealing banking, or personal information to untrusted sources.
Consumers can also protect themselves by researching companies using: The Better Business Bureau Website (Click here), The Registered Charities Website (Click here), and even by doing a google search for the names of people or companies involved.
Some scams will have already been detected by police, reported by news outlets, or have on-line warnings by other victims.
If you think you were the victim of a scam, notify your local police department.
There are as many scams as people have ideas. For more information on common scams, please consult the following RCMP bulletin:
Jayne Embree, M.A.