March is Fraud Prevention Month and the RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre are highlighting ways to prevent citizens from becoming victims.
The RCMP estimates that fraud costs Canadians $10 to $30 billion annually.
“We see fraud committed in Red Deer quite frequently and most of it is easily preventable,” said Cpl. Kathe DeHeer of the Red Deer city RCMP.
“People have to protect themselves, educate themselves and especially be very careful about information they give out over the phone.”
The public is invited to a series of fraud prevention meetings at the RCMP north side office starting next Wednesday, March 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and continuing every Wednesday for the rest of the month.
Topics are: March 9 – social networks, March 16 – pin and card fraud, March 23 – mass marketing fraud and March 30 – identity theft.
“People can come down and learn how to protect themselves,” said DeHeer. “Each meeting will feature a presentation and be followed with a question and answer period. Pamphlets on fraud prevention will also be available.”
Favourite fraud schemes involve prizes from contests that folks didn’t know they had entered, offers by phone that sound “too good to be true,” home renovation, lottery, charities, emergencies or disaster relief and they also usually involve credit cards or banking information.
Organized crime groups commit almost 80% of these crimes.
Advice from the RCMP when it comes to credit card or other personal financial information:
• If you didn’t make the call, never give out any personal information or data over the phone.
• Never give out any information in response to an e-mail. It’s a technique criminals use called “phishing.” If you get an urgent or official-looking e-mail from your bank or credit card company or a well-known business that requests more information or account verification information do not respond.
• If you’re concerned that you are being victimized by fraud, hang up and call your financial institution or credit card company.
• Report fraud or attempted fraud to the police. Authorities need information to shut down criminal operations.
Another popular fraud technique involves criminals trying to learn that extra three-digit number (four-digit on American Express cards) on the back of your Visa or MasterCard.
That’s the number merchants use to confirm that you have a credit card that they can’t see over the phone or Internet. A criminal that already has your credit card number will call, sound very official and tell you your card is flagged because of unusual purchases, which, of course, you haven’t made.
He or she will say they are investigating the matter and need your three or four-digit number. If you give it to them they can now make purchases with your card over the phone or Internet. You should be very protective of that three or four-digit security number.
For more information on fraud, check out the web sites of your credit card company, financial institution or the Canadian Bankers Association.
Other valuable sites are the RCMP’s www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/index-eng.htm site and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.