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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Protect Yourself From Fraud

Written by P.Luchuck

The Internet has given criminals a whole new set of tools to commit fraud. According to Ottawa Police Service Staff Sergeant Stephanie Burns, it also gives people a false sense of security. From tax fraud to romance scams, it can be easy to fall prey.

Be wary of Canada Revenue Agency scams

This tax season, understand the risks and what you can do to protect yourself. In 2016 alone, Canadians lost $3 million in personal savings to tax fraud. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will not contact you by email or text message to ask for personal information, such as your social insurance number or details from last year’s tax return.
“Unless you have signed up for emails from the CRA, be wary of emails that appear to be from them,” says Staff Sgt. Burns. “When in doubt, take a few minutes to talk to someone. Call the CRA or your bank.”

Support your friends and family

People who are naturally more vulnerable, such as seniors or persons living with addiction or disabilities, are often easy prey for fraudsters. You might find yourself in this situation, or know someone who is at risk.
“Fraud can be devastating to anyone, but for seniors or people living on a fixed income who rely on others for help, it can be a life-changer,” says Staff Sgt. Burns.
Lonely or isolated people are often looking for companionship or have trouble saying no to others with questionable intentions. They may hand over their debit cards or open joint bank accounts with people who offer to help pay bills or run errands. These “new friends” disappear when the money runs out, only to return when the next cheque arrives.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud

Staff Sgt. Burns offers these tips to keep you and your loved ones safe:
 Be suspicious of emails that ask for confidential information.
 If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of contests asking you to pay money to collect your prize, or winnings for contests you did not enter.
 Take your time to think and ask questions. Contact someone you trust for a second opinion.
 If you need support to manage your finances, choose your helpers carefully. Speak with a family member or social worker, and make arrangements with your bank.
“Bank tellers are very helpful and can be the first line of defence for vulnerable people,” Burns adds.
Learn more about fraud and find out how to protect yourself:
 Canada Revenue Agency: cra.gc.ca
 Anti-Fraud Centre: antifraudcentre.ca
 Ottawa Police Fraud Unit: ottawapolice.ca/fraud
Crime Prevention Ottawa’s Neighbourhood Toolkit offers advice to help you stay safe and build stronger communities. Visit the toolkit online at www.crimepreventionottawa.ca/toolkit