Scams to watch for

The phone rings and you don’t recognize the number; that’s clue number one. That the offer is too good to be true is often clue number two. You need to pay to play, provide personal information, act right now to benefit, these are some of the other clues.

Scamming has never been more active and scammers are always busy during the holiday season. Here are a few of the popular scams in play right now.

Scammers have gotten more sophisticated, but common sense can help you spot them.

Reduce credit card interest. Number is 780 525 9008. This is a scammer trying to get you to invest some money into their attempt to get a bank to do what you can do yourself – if you even want to. Hang up and don’t argue with them. If you have a call blocker on you cell phone, use it.

CRA scams. There are a couple of CRA scams. You may receive an email appearing to be from the CRA saying you have a refund coming and all you have to do to receive it is to verify their information with your SIN or bank account number. Don’t respond.

A phone call comes from a “CRA agent” claiming that a recent audit shows that you owe CRA back taxes. They threaten you with freezing your bank account or seizing other assets and they may even say they have a warrant for your arrest. They demand immediate payment.’

Not even the CRA works like this. For one thing, they will never request payment by prepaid credit cards or iTunes gift cards. If you have doubts, tell the caller that you will phone to CRA directly for verification and hang up.

You’ve won a free vacation. Caller will often ask you to pay a small fee to collect your prize. There is never a fee to collect a prize. Hang up.

Phishing scams. Call tells you there is something wrong with your computer, or that it’s been hacked. Their goal is to get you to download malicious software that will give them access to your computer and private information. These Phishing expeditions also come in by email.

Phone debt collectors. They claim they are calling about an old debt and they are very aggressive using scare tactics to rattle you. Don’t give out any personal information. Tell the caller to send you written notice of your debts. Hang up.

Help me out Grandma. Caller pretends to be a relative – usually a grandchild traveling in a foreign land. There is an emergency – they need money for bail or to pay a big fine or whatever seems reasonable. In one case here in Winnipeg the caller claimed to be the victim’s “favourite grandson”. When she asked which one, the fraudster was coy, saying, “You know. Don’t tell mom and dad – they’ll kill me…” And she fell for it, wiring him money to pay a fine, pay for a damaged car, and to pay for a plane ticket before she caught on.

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