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How to protect yourself from scams and fraud

Fraud prevention - It's important to protect yourself against scams

By now, we’re all aware that there are people trying to trick you out of your money and valuable information. It’s getting harder to spot a scam coming. Making it more important than ever to stay vigilant when it comes to fraud prevention. Scammers are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to trick us and it is easier than ever to fall for one if you are not careful.

What scammers want most from you

To a scammer, you are a valuable commodity. They will use any opening to trick you and take anything from you that can be sold, traded, or collected. They prey on the vulnerable and those that don’t take a moment to double-check what they see or read.

It’s not just money that they can use to hurt you financially

Though money is a scammer’s primary goal, there is a lot more, if accessed, they’ll use for their benefit. When it comes to fraud prevention, information is as valuable as cash, and scammers can use it to really hurt you. Your name, address, and personal information, are all things they can use against you. Along with taking money they can take over accounts, steal identities, and commit all manner of fraud using your information.

There are all types of scams, and some are very clever!

As quickly as people are working to figure out the newest scams and how to protect against them, scammers are working too. They utilize many tactics to learn to make more elaborate and more convincing scams. There will never be a foolproof way to protect against scams, but you can stay one step ahead. Here are a few of the most common and newest to look out for:

They know people fear the CRA

A classic scam is a scammer calling or messaging supposedly on behalf of the CRA. They know that many people fear the CRA and stress about the idea of having made some kind of mistake on their taxes. Often, they tell you that there is some kind of action against you and that you owe a very large sum. They want you to be intimidated and ask what can be done. They’ll usually offer you to pay a lower sum and it will all go away. 

The CRA would never randomly call a person. Instead, they would send an official letter or contact you through verified online correspondence. Never offer personal information to the CRA caller. If you are unsure, try asking them to provide some information about you. The scammers do not have access to your information and will be unable to do so.

There is a problem with your account?

A very common scam is a message in your inbox that one of your accounts is frozen and requires immediate attention. This could be a bank account or another account on a popular site like Amazon. This very convincing message will seem to be coming from a legitimate source and is usually worded in a way that tries to make you afraid your money and finances might be in trouble. They will offer a link to “Secure” your account where it will ask you to log in. This site will look nearly identical to the real thing, but it is very much not.

Before clicking the link, you can inspect it to see where it goes. Real bank sites will have the bank’s name and be a simple domain. or something simple and official. Many of the scam recreation sites will have a long address such as They cannot simulate the official URL so they assume you won’t verify the link.

Another good way to verify is to check that the email address you received this suspicious notification from is the same as the one you receive regular correspondence from that website. Usually, it’s easy to find a regular email from the company to compare against. Do not click the link in the suspicious email! Instead, log into the site directly. If there is a legitimate problem, you should be able to access it as you normally would. Most times you will find your account is fine and these strange charges were not real.

I won a contest?

Winning a contest is exciting, leaving many wanting to dive right in to claim their prize. Fortunately, a lot of people are catching on to the scam of winning a contest they didn’t enter and avoid any issues. However. recently on social media, scammers have found a new way to make this work. They find small businesses such as restaurants, tattoo artists, and flower shops offering promotions or giveaways. They make a convincing clone of the business’s social media account. Next, they message people who commented or liked the post about the contest. The message will claim you won and ask for information and likely a small cash fee to claim your prize. 

If you did enter the contest, double-check the addresses and websites and confirm it is the same as the one you entered. If you’re unsure, never hesitate to contact the source of the contest you entered to verify it is the same as the source that claimed you won. Most real contests will tell you what you have to do to redeem your prize and are very unlikely to use a cash-to-claim situation.

Why do they want a gift card?

Many scammers will entice victims by asking for a large sum of money and then offering you a cheaper option to resolve them. A very common tactic is asking for a gift card number such as iTunes or Amazon. They do this because these cards are easy to acquire and cannot be refunded or traced easily

A real website or business would never ask to be paid in this way and this is always a scam. Offer to call the legitimate source and pay through direct banking or something that leaves a paper trail. You will find the scammer very resistant to this idea. Never agree to these things on the call or chat and always make payments through the legitimate channels you are used to using.

There will always be scams but that doesn’t mean you can’t be ready for them!

The golden rule of fraud prevention is to verify everything. Scammers rely on a kneejerk reactions like fear and anxiety. They want to create a sense of urgency, so you don’t do your research. Take your time and do your research. If you are suspicious, ask questions and double-check. Never hesitate to call or message customer service and ask about the issue. Any real organization knows scam activities are out there and will graciously accept (even appreciate) that you are doing your due diligence. Scammers will invent reasons to deal with them right there right now. 

Scammers work hard to come up with these scams, but you can work smart to avoid them. If something seems off or suspicious assume that it is until you can find proof to the contrary. It is easy to assume scammers are dumb and sloppy, but they can be quite smart and cunning. With fraud prevention, your best defence is to be smarter.

Learning these fraud prevention tools a little too late and dealing with a tough financial fallout? Our expert credit counsellors can help. Call to find out how we can get back on the road to financial stability.

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