You work hard for your money. And chances are, you have a plan for every dollar. Whether you’re paying bills, saving for an exciting trip or helping a child make their way through college, your money is meant for things that matter to you. Unfortunately, fraudsters are real, and they target everyday people and businesses just like you. Whether it’s online, over the phone or even in person, fraudsters are real and out there every day looking for victims. Being aware of frauds and knowing how to protect yourself can help keep you and your family safe. Keep reading to learn more about recognizing and reporting scams and financial fraud protection.
Subscription Fraud: Don’t Fall for the Trap
Have you ever opened your email, received a phone call or noticed a social media post offering free or low-cost products? This isn’t inherently bad. But sometimes these “free” subscription costs will reel you in by having you provide your credit card information to cover shipping costs, only to get roped into a monthly subscription. Finding out you’ve been charged for the full price after your “free” subscription period has ended can be extremely frustrating. Cancelling deliveries and the subscription can be an unreasonable, if not impossible process. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, typical products marketed for this scam include weight loss pills, health foods, pharmaceuticals, and anti-ageing products.
For financial fraud protection, we recommend checking the Better Business Bureau or online reviews to find out more about a company. Remember to read the fine print in the terms and conditions and don’t sign up if you can’t find them or understand them.
At OCU, we know small business is at the heart of our community and we love supporting other local businesses. If you’re a business owner in the community, be on high alert for these scams. Fraudulent schemes include sending a company a proposal for an advertisement in a magazine or other marketing medium. They’ll phone the accounting department to confirm the details and send an invoice. Departments who have the power to move money within an organization should be especially aware of the verification procedures for paying and managing invoices. Some scammers can get quite aggressive in demanding payment and may even threaten to report you to a collection agency.
Make sure you and all your employees are aware of potential scams and the procedures for having payments approved. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre recommends creating a list of companies that you typically pay, limit the number of people able to pay bills and to inspect invoices carefully as scammers will use logos and names similar to trustworthy businesses to make them seem real.
Recognizing Scams: Learn to Recognize these Red Flags
Unfortunately, there are countless scams out there trying to steal money from you, your business and your family. However, most scams have a few things in common. Learning to recognize these red flags can help you stay safe.
- Wire transfers
- Spelling mistakes
- Requesting personal information
- Unsolicited calls
- Unsolicited friend requests on social media
- Mail offers that seem “too good to be true” (Spoiler: it probably is)
All in all, we recommend the highest level of caution if you encounter something that seems amiss when transferring money. Be aware of wire transfers since once that money is sent, it can be nearly impossible to get your money back. With overpayments, a scammer may send you a cheque for too much and request that you deposit it and wire the excess back to them immediately.
We also recommend carefully reading emails, messages or sites. If you notice misspelled words, grammar errors or incorrectly used expressions, there’s a chance it may be a scam. Scammers may request personal information like your passport, SIN or driver’s license. If you don’t know the requestor, we don’t recommend giving out personal details. You may also receive an unsolicited phone call from a fraudster claiming you have a virus on your computer or are experiencing unusual activity in your bank accounts. Remember, legitimate organizations usually don’t call you directly. Lastly, fraudsters may send you friend requests on social media or send you offers “too good to be true”. While there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a good deal, we recommend exercising caution for shocking discounts and unbelievable offers.
How to Report a Scam
Finding out you’ve been scammed can be incredibly frustrating. You work hard for your money and having a scheming scammer steal it from you should compel you to take action. According to the Canadian Anti-Scam Centre, how you take action will depend on where you live and what type of scam is involved. We suggest visiting the Canadian Anti-Fraud website here for tips on how to report a specific fraud if you’ve been victimized. Remember, if you do fall for a scam, always report it. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you got trapped by a scam! Reporting it means you’ll be able to help countless others.
Osoyoos Credit Union: Financial Fraud Protection
With the myriad of fraudsters running rampant out in the world, it’s important to do your banking at a financial institution you can trust. Here at OCU, we take financial fraud protection very seriously and work hard to protect our members from financial schemes. We work hard to ensure our staff, our first line of defence, are informed on current frauds to help keep you safe. We believe in keeping you, our members, safe and educated about frauds.