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Don’t Put Yourself At Risk: Educating Yourself On Scams and Fraud

Scams and Frauds have been around probably as long as civilization has. In 300 BC, one of the first reported fraud cases was between the Greek sea merchants Hegestratos and Zenosthemis, who devised a plan to enrich themselves by taking out an insurance policy on their ship and cargo. In 1792 the first insider trading scandal was in the US, and in 1920 the original Ponzi scheme was developed by Charles Ponzi. 

People have always tried to take advantage of others. As technology has developed, made lives more manageable, and connected us with the globe, it is still a double-edged sword. It has also become more accessible for someone to access your information and money. But how are Canadians affected? 

In 2021, Canadians lost $231 million from scams and frauds – and that’s just what’s been reported. As of January 31, 2023:

  • Reports of fraud: 6,610 (91,190 in 2022)
  • Victims of fraud: 3,923 (57,055 in 2022)
  • Lost to fraud: $43.6 M ($531 M in 2022)

With technology becoming an increasing part of our daily lives, knowing how to spot potential scams and what to do if you fall victim to one is essential. That’s where the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) comes in.

“The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is Canada’s central repository for mass marketing and identifying fraud,” says Jeff Horncastle, Acting Client and Communications Outreach Officer for CAFC. “We share the information we collect with the public for fraud prevention and education. We share the information with law enforcement and private and public-private sector partners.”

In the digital age, digital literacy is pertinent when dealing with anything online. Being the most extensive repository, individuals can learn a lot from visiting CAFC’s website, which includes a list of potential scams and frauds. Educating yourself or simply asking a friend or family member to give a second opinion on a suspicious email, call, or social media message can go a long way, says Horncastle. 

“Fraudsters are using so many different mechanisms now to try and get into your accounts, steal your identity, or get into your bank accounts. It’s a matter of being able to recognize if it’s a phishing text message, an email, or if you’re getting a strange message on social media to click on a video. Just be aware. A lot of victimization happens in the moment very quickly. Take a step back, take a moment or as much time as you need and look into what you’re receiving. It can save you from being a victim.” 

What is phishing?

Criminals use tactics to trick you into giving your personal information or clicking on links. These tactics could be:

  • email and website name spoofing
  • urgency
  • offers of refunds or money
  • seemingly “harmless” requests to click links, download attachments or fill out forms online

For example, a scammer could send an email, text, social media or voice message that appears to be from a recognized institution or company, such as:

  • a bank;
  • online subscription services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon);
  • a business;
  • government department or agency;

Learn about other scams and frauds: https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/scams-fraudes/azindex-eng.htm.

Phishing is just the tip of the iceberg. Fake business proposals, Collection agency, Immigration website, and Ransomware are a few examples. Educating oneself on what’s out there can go a long way in reducing risks. Other small steps you can take to protect yourself include:

  • Checking the email address that is sending you information and recognizing spoofing
  • Regularly change your passwords, and don’t use the same password on different accounts;
  • Don’t give out personal information;
  • Don’t be afraid to say no;
  • And never allow access to your personal computer.

Unfortunately, only about 5 percent of scam/fraud victims report to the CAFC. Although it may feel embarrassing if you are a victim of a scam or fraud, it’s integral to report as many details as possible to the CAFC and your local law enforcement. We can help others from falling victim with further data and information.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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