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Top Five Scams We See

Joe was an avid traveler; he knew the ‘ins and outs’, the ‘travel cheats’ and the ‘what-not-to-do’s’. Like many travelers, beaches, surfing and tropical cocktails were all he looked forward to.

On the frst day of his Mexican vacation, Joe decided he would explore the city. As he made his way through the busy streets filled with local vendors, he realized he did not have any cash. Joe found a street ATM, checked the logos on the back of his card, and stuck it into the machine to withdraw cash.

Several days later, after enjoying the surf, the sun and the delicious margaritas, Joe decided he would take one last stroll through the town to buy some souvenir trinkets for family and friends.

Upon return to Northern BC, Joe decided to visit his local credit union to exchange his remaining pesos. For some reason something wasn’t matching up because the balance the teller gave his was very wrong. The teller printed off a statement and Joe found that there were several purchases on his statement that he had not made.

Joe was a victim of card skimming.

Fraud – how often does it really happen? The answer – more often than you think! From a ‘guaranteed lottery’ to ‘winning instant prizes you never applied for’, scammers are out there trying to swindle you. Scams can come in various forms; they can target a large or small sum of money and the level of difficulty in recognizing a scam may vary greatly.

In December alone, 3,283 Canadians reported mass marketing fraud to the Anti-Fraud Centre, with losses totaling over $7.7 million. In 2014, there were a total of 40,986 instances of fraud victimization being reported with losses totaling over $73.4 million. With an increase in cybercrime and card skimming, there are several things the end user can do to protect themselves from being a victim of fraud.

Here are the top five scams as seen by Integris and some tips on how to avoid them.

#1. Malware/Cybercrime

Cybercrime can rear its ugly head in many different forms; from a fraudulent e-mail money transfer, to an infected computer system, there are many ways the average user can become a victim of fraud. It can happen easily – clicking on an unsuspecting internet link and the next thing you know, every single key you stroke is recorded, giving hackers access to your entire livelihood.

Protect Yourself: One way to protect yourself against fraud is to download and install Trusteer Rapport®. Trusteer Rapport® is provided free of charge to all Integris member; it is a financial security software that has the ability to scrub malware from your computer and also protect sensitive data such as your online banking passwords and balances. Trusteer Rapport® does not replace your anti-virus software, but rather, works in conjunction with it to protect your finances.

Check out our video on how to install Trusteer Rapport® today.

#2. Phone Scams

Phone scams, while less frequent than other scams are still very prevalent in today’s world of fraud. They come in the form of ‘legitimate’ phone calls from concerned consumers verifying data and the next thing you know – you’ve given out sensitive information like your credit card or social insurance number.

Protect Yourself: If you are asked to give out personal details over the telephone such as your SIN or a credit card number, ask if you can call them back later; you can then verify the phone number from the company’s legitimate website and verify that you are dealing with the legitimate company. Remember to never use the contact information they’ve given you, as this may be fraudulent. Legitimate credit card companies and government agencies will never pressure you to give out your personal information.

#3. Card Skimming

Card skimming is one of the most common types of debit card fraud. Unfortunately card skimming happens quite often while travelling abroad. You can never fully protect yourself from card skimming; however, there are a few tricks to keep an eye on.

Protect Yourself: Don’t use stand-alone ATM’s – these are machines that you see alone and not in direct proximity of a financial institution. These machines have a higher probability of being compromised because they are not checked as often as machines that are in proximity of a financial institution. Covering your PIN may seem like a silly request; however, it could save your money and your stress levels. Card skimming has two components – a magnetic strip reader and a hidden camera to record your PIN. If you cover your PIN, the fraudsters cannot duplicate your card.

#4. Counterfeit Cheques

Unfortunately, counterfeit cheques are still a common form of fraud and there are several different ways that a cheque can be counterfeited: a cheque can have a forged signature, it can be altered, it can be written on a closed account, and more.

Protect Yourself: If you receive a cheque in the mail and you are not expecting it, be cautious about depositing it into your bank account as it could have serious repercussions. Counterfeit cheques can be returned long after a cheque is deposited, and if you have already spent the money, you are on the hook to pay back the money to your financial institution. Domestic cheques can always be verified, and if for some reason they cannot, Integris has the ability to send the cheque out as an investigatory item, ensuring that you do not get charged fees. If you are concerned that an item may be fraudulent, check with your branch and they can assist you to discover if an item is counterfeit or not.

#5. Grandparents Scam

The Grandparents scam has been around for ages, and it is still widely used today to swindle innocent grannies and gramps out of their hard earned cash. Grandparent scams have one thing in common – the absence of the person requesting the fund for their dire needs/investment opportunities.

Protect Yourself: If you receive a phone call, letter or email from someone claiming to be your grandchild, take a few minutes to investigate the request. Requests can come from legitimate sources (emails can be hacked); try and get a hold of the individual in person or verbally with different contact information. Keep in mind that Western Union Money Orders and Wire transfers are considered highly fraudulent methods of transferring funds when it come to the Grandparents scam.

Fraud. Recognize it. Report it. Stop it.

There are many ways to protect yourself from fraud, but one of the best ways is to ask someone! Call your local branch and ask them what they think, check the Better Business Bureau, the Competition Bureau or use Google to see if anyone else has been scammed in a similar manner.

Remember fraud is more common than you think and by asking questions, you could save yourself or a friend in the long run.

cori-ramsay Written by Cori Ramsay, BA – Communications Officer