March is Fraud Prevention Month and police in Halifax are warning people to keep an eye out for cyber scams.
This time of year is high season for scams because taxes are due; the filing deadline for personal returns is April 30.
Police in Halifax say they receive phone calls every day from people who have been contacted by scammers, including those who have fallen victim to cyber swindlers.
RCMP Cpl. Dal Hutchinson says anyone can be a target, and many of the conspirators use trustworthy but exploitive tactics.
Hutchinson describes five popular schemes that Haligonians should know about.
In this impersonation scam, someone will call, send emails or text messages, all while pretending to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). They will say you owe them outstanding balances. Don’t be intimidated, says Hutchinson, but “typically, scammers promise a refund or threaten arrest if you don’t pay up.”
The RCMP says the CRA doesn’t ask for personal information this way.
Tax return scam
The scammer will send an email promising a tax refund. They will pretend to be a representative of the CRA. The email, which may be from email@example.com will present an authentic-looking page and ask you to provide personal information in a separate site. When you click the “submit form” button, it leads directly to the real CRA website.
This will result in money being taken from your account because the scammers are granted direct access to your accounts. Some financial institutions will return the money that has been taken during this scam.
Scammers will call people and claim to be from a bank. The scammer will ask for your credit card number or for access to your computer. To avoid this trap, say you will call back and contact someone at your bank before making a transaction.
“These calls can be very convincing. Sometimes the callers know some of your personal information,” says Hutchinson. “There’s nothing wrong with asking them to provide a contact number and telling them you want to call your bank first.”
The scammer contacts an elderly person and pretends to be their grandchild or a relative. Scammers request money and pretend to be in trouble. Since the elder thinks they are helping their grandchild or relative, they will often wire money or send a an e-transfer to a specified address.
“Unfortunately seniors are defrauded thousands of dollars every year through this scam,” says Hutchinson.
People receive phone calls from a scammer claiming to be from the fraud section of a financial institution who wants to conduct a theft investigation. These cyber swindlers will want you to provide your personal information and access to your computer to take your money.
“Most fraud goes unreported,” says Hutchinson.
Always report shady activity
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to fraud, report it. Always report any suspicious activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online at www.antifraudcentre.ca.
Police in Halifax are encouraging people to report their experience with fraud to the Competition Bureau.