By Jasmine Franklin
Hold on to your identification’s, and shred any bank statements – RCMP are warning the public after an increasing number of people are falling victim to fraud and identity theft.
“They will do anything to get your money,” said RCMP officer Adam Al-Kadri. “They go after gullible people.”
RCMP constables Al-Kadri and Luc Richard visited Rimoka Lodge Oct. 12 to inform seniors on identity theft and various types of fraud.
More importantly, the officers showed residents how to recognize fraudulent schemes and how to protect themselves.
Officers told the residents that between 1999 and 2003, more than $44 million was lost among Canadians to telemarketing fraud such as the cash, prize and car pitch. Most of them sound like, “You’ve just won a car! To collect your car, you must send us a $50 deposit.”
Never send the deposit, Al-Kadri said. Wait until the car is in the driveway otherwise you are unlikely to ever see that $50 again.
There are different types of fraud: Internet fraud such as mock websites claiming to be fundraising websites. This was seen everywhere after hurricane Katrina in 2006; more than 2,300 fraudulent websites claiming to send donations to the victims were set up, the officers said. Pyramid schemes that which a big group of individuals is asked to invite more people and the more people that join, the more money that is given to the insiders.
“Any claim that will make you money by recruiting is most likely a scheme,” Al-Kadri said.
The officers stressed that telemarketers who call asking for money for foundations such as “RCMP in support of cancer” are scams.
“The RCMP is not allowed to solicit for money and would never ask for money over the phone,” said Richard. “We cannot do that.”
Credit and debit fraud amounts to over $5 billion worldwide each year. Criminals can steal the card itself or take your banking information from a bank statement.
“Rip up and throw away your statements,” Richard said. “Criminals will go so far as to go through your trash for information.”
It was stressed that if a credit card is believed to have been stolen the first thing to do is call and cancel the card, then call the police.
“It takes someone five minutes to withdraw $5,000,” Al-Kadri said.
Debit fraud requires the thief to steal both the card and the PIN. Be aware of private-owned convenience stores or ATM machines that don’t look right. The card scanners can be rigged so when a debit card is swiped through the card and PIN number can be duplicated.
“Try your best to take out money from your financial institution,” Al- Kadri said.
The top 6 institutions where debit machines or ATMs are rigged, most of the time without the owner’s awareness, are McDonald’s and Wendy’s restaurants, gas stations, convenience, liquor and grocery stores, and restaurants.
Next on the list for residents was an important issue — identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your identity or documents with the intention of committing financial fraud. Drivers license, social insurance numbers, passports, and birth certificates and all documents that are targeted for identity theft.
The officers said one in four Canadians have been victims of identity theft.
The easy way to prevent yourself from all of the above take conscious thinking, but will better protect yourself.
• Don’t be afraid to hang up on telemarketers
• Never give out personal information, especially banking information over the phone.
• Ask them questions such as their licensing number, the company, and whether they have a website — if they do, check it out.
• Screen calls, then report the number to the police.
• Put personal phone numbers on the national Do Not Call List
• Beware of charity scams — “RCMP in support of cancer” or the Nigerian Letter scam where letters are sent asking for money
• Don’t open emails where the name is not recognized
• Tear up and throw away bank statements
• Don’t carry around important documents such as social insurance numbers, birth certificates or passports
• Be wary of ATMs that don’t look right
• If you believe your identity has been stolen, call the credit card companies first and cancel the cards then call the police
• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
“Anyone can get frauded,” Al-Kadri said. “The four Ds to fraud include deter, delay, deny, detect.”
Anytime a fraudulent email, telemarketer or scam is encountered call Phone Busters at 1-88-495-8501 or visit the website www.phonebusters.com to report it. Also call your local police.