Every year thousands of Canadians fall victim to fraud, including in and around Williams Lake.
“Over the last while we’ve noticed more people calling regarding scams, whether it’s a letter in the mail or phone call selling ink or whatever,” RCMP community safety representative Dave Dickson said.
Most people don’t think that it will ever happen to them, but fraudsters continue to use increasing sophisticated methods to target residents of all ages and from all walks of life.
Fraud Prevention Month is an annual event that gives private and public organizations involved in the fight against fraud an opportunity to further raise public awareness. Through awareness, people can avoid becoming victims.
Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Warren Brown advised he continues to see an alarming increase of frauds reported to his detachment.
“This is not acceptable and we are certainly going to do our very best to attempt to inform our community,” he said, adding being cautious is something to be proud of.
Whether shielding a PIN number from view or asking questions of telemarketers, people should not be afraid of offending those who are asking for information or money.
Over the next four weeks, the RCMP will be participating in a series of local fraud awareness initiatives.
To help reduce your chances of being victimized by fraud, local agencies have kindly offered to assist in getting the prevention messages out to the community, including local media, Dickson said.
The Better Business Bureau has identified the top 10 scams. They will be featured through the month, starting with the first three on Mar. 8’s Tribune Weekender.
Topping the list are the advertising trolls who scam consumers who post ads to free online listings like Craigslist. The consumer becomes the target of unlicensed telemarketing companies who are trolling through online ads to find someone to make an easy buck from.
Scamming companies often guarantee to sell vehicles quickly and promise a money-back guarantee. They rarely sell it, yet charge a seller a fee. And that’s money people could save by selling things themselves.
Rather than being misled by promises of guaranteed sales, check companies out on www.bbb.org.
The second scam of the week is the online romance scam. It’s very dicey to trust people one meets virtually because while they may spend time building a relationship online, if they are a criminal, that’s all part of the plan.
Warning signs are when requests for money start to appear, with pleas the requesters has no family or friends to turn to.
Finally, the internet investment scam where fraudsters contact you by e-mail or social media or somehow lead you to a website designed to gather personal information for the purpose of identity theft.
Don’t expect to get rich quickly, experts warn, and don’t be lured by claims of insider information.
Delete and block spam emails and do your own research.
Before making any investments, people need to retrieve as much information as possible and keep copies of all correspondence and investment information.
Brown said due to the Internet social media, scams have become international as opposed to being localized so investigating them is becoming more and more difficult and costly.
“I think education and awareness are key to preventing scams. We get phone calls daily with people telling us the police just gave me a message on my computer telling me if I pay them $125 I’ll get my computer back.”
That’s not something the RCMP would ever do, he said.
“And if you get a letter from a lawyer saying ‘you have $125 million from a lost uncle, and all we need to do is open an account under your name so give us $2,500,’ don’t do it.”
Brown said the top 10 list is not “exhaustive” but it’s a start.
To report scams contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (Phone Busters) at www.antifraudcentre.ca or call 1 888 495-8501.
Dickson can also be reached at 250-392-8701.