During the month of March the Williams Lake RCMP has teamed up with local media to heighten awareness around scams.
Traditionally March is Fraud Prevention Month and due to the growing popularity of social media, scams are increasing rapidly, says Inspector Warren Brown.
Each week the media has focused on two or three scams from a list of the top ten provided by the Better Business Bureau.
In a colourful brochure featuring the scams there’s a drowning of the human brain which the BBB uses to suggest there is a psychology of scams.
“They appeal to trust and authority, exploit basic human desires, personalized offers appears legitimate, induction by way of making small commitments, belief that large award justifies fees, lack of emotional control, increased hostility and guilt, and opening for re-victimiazation.”
Today’s focus is on computer virus fixing schemes and twisted text prizes.
Inspector Warren Brown says many complaints have come into the RCMP about computer virus fixing schemes.
“There’s one out there that pops up on the computer screens with an RCMP logo telling customers if they send in $100 the virus can be removed,” Brown said. “We don’t fix the public’s computers. That is a scam.”
The Better Business Bureau advises people not to click on pop-up advertisement offering anti-virus services.
In other incidents people might receive a phone call with a warning their computer has been infected with a virus. The caller will offer to fix the computer.
What’s really happening is the scammer is trying to gain remote access to your computer and gain credit card information, the BBB warned.
The scammer will say they need remote access to provide the supposed services and will ask for computer passwords and related information.
“If you receive an unsolicited call offering anti-virus services, requesting access to your computer or asking for credit card information, hang up,” the BBB advised. “Never give an unsolicited caller access to your computer and always buy anti-virus software from a legitimate vendor you trust.”
Twisted text prizes will alert the recipient that they’ve won a major retailer’s gift card. To claim it the person needs to go to a website and enter a PIN to receive the card.
If the PIN and an email address are entered, then a form will appear asking you to fill in your name, cell number, and mailing address.
The form will also ask a random question maybe about returning to school or if you are a diabetic.
“When you reach the page to claim your gift card you will find you are directed to another site to apply for a credit card,” the BBB explained. “In the end, you never receive a credit card and you have given out personal information.”
It is also important to ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a common trick by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
These types of texts can be forwarded to 7726(SPAM). By forwarding the scam the cellphone carrier is alerted to block future texts from those specific numbers.
“If you think your text message is real, be sure it’s directing to a web address and not just a seemingly similar website name,” the BBB said.