Hammertime: Be aware of phoney scams and frauds

This week’s Hammertime focusses on the different kinds of fraud

Mike Rainone

Hammertime

As we desperately try to shrug off and dig out from under Mother Nature’s ‘frigid February’ onslaught, there is no doubt that everyone must be really anxious and looking forward to at least some early signs of spring.

Of course there were some who were able to sneak away from the deep freeze and relax in those far-away paradises of sand and hot sun, while the rest of us hunkered down and found lots of neat indoor things to do in between naps and shovelling snow, while bundling up and only venturing out for such necessities as: work, school, church, food, appointments, invigorating workouts at the gym, and of course for ‘game day.’

For some reason the first months of a New Year always seem to bring out all sorts of phoney scams and phone frauds, which we all need to be very aware of, and take every precaution to avoid getting scammed and cheated out of our hard earned cash or vital personal information. Last week my wife and I got two phone calls at our condo, one at 7 a.m., which shook us out of a deep sleep, and instantly worried us if something was wrong among family or friends. After I said hello, the guy on the other end replied, ‘Hi, this is the criminal division of the Canada Revenue Agency’, after which I immediately hung up and turned on the coffee pot. This is the same fraud that has appeared annually at this time of the year and claims that a person is behind on their income tax payments and they will threaten criminal action if money or information is not relayed to them. Sadly, after several phone calls some people have become scared and are lured into this evil web, of crime, sending large sums of money to a phoney address and source that usually works out of a phone booth. The second time they called me on the same day I had written down the toll free number and didn’t even answer, something that we all need to start doing for our own safety and peace of mind, especially nowadays. One needs only check the local papers, media, and police alerts daily to see how many of these phoney scams that are now making the rounds everywhere.

Bottom line, in this present day and age most of these ongoing scams that offer all sorts of amazing deals are mostly way too good to be true, and they are only after our personal financial information, which we should never give out unless we are absolutely sure and know who we are dealing with. The greater percentage of these ‘phone peddlers’ and door-to-door salesmen are very pushy and persistent in plying their trade, but each and every one of us have every right to politely say no thank you and hang up the phone or close the door. If we are still being pestered by the calls or are concerned of the consequences, we have every right to immediately contact a family member, neighbour, friend, your bank, the local RCMP and others to let them know what is happening, and I am sure that they will be glad to help you in any way that they can.

Beware: Here are only a few of the most popular and usually illegal scams that are going around nowadays.

• Forms are once again showing up in the mail with the logo of the Canada Revenue Agency, and even come with a self-addressed return envelope. The letter actually has our name on it, and claims that they are missing some required tax information such as our SIN number, date of birth, and on and on. If you phone the nearest Canada Revenue Office they will tell you that they don’t do business that way, so rip up and toss the form away, and warn your family and friends about the scam.

• A scam still hanging around for years is the urgent ‘Hi Grandma and Grandpa’ phone call from a young relative asking for money right now in order to buy school books, to pay a bill, for a bus ride home, or to post bail, and please don’t tell mom and dad about the pickle I am in. Hang up and phone the parents and family right away to make sure that everything is okay. There is also the exciting phone call or letter offering congratulations that we have just won a new car, boat, or whatever, and that we only need to wire money and it will be delivered to your home, or maybe even a call from an old relative or friend that we supposedly haven’t seen for a long time asking for bus fare so that they can come for a visit. These, along with offers of ‘instant romance and hot dating sights’ scams, many which are especially targeted at seniors have been defrauding unwary victims out of $230 million annually.

• Also, we all very gladly give to the charity of our choice, but please ask for official identification to make sure that your donation is getting to the proper cause, and is not another scam. It is very important that we all work together daily to protect our own precious interests and lifestyles as well as those of our family and friends to avoid getting treated unfairly.

Have a great week, all of you.

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