Protect yourself

March is Fraud Awareness Month, and RCMP and police services across the country continue their efforts to educate people on protecting themselves from telephone and online scammers. It’s the 11th year for the campaign and it’s a good reminder to be cautious and to protect personal information.

Fraud is nothing new and it seems like scammers are more savvy than ever with the advances in technology and social media. Time and time again we hear of people being bilked out of thousands of dollars and really by little effort on the part of the scammer. People are too trusting nowadays and it often seems like innocent seniors are being targeted in particular. It is really tragic to see that some of the most vulnerable in our society are taken advantage of.

In Red Deer, RCMP recently warned local residents of a current scam going around.

Businesses and individuals have been asked to be on the alert after receiving reports of counterfeit U.S. $50 bills in the City. In incidents from March 5th, 7th and 11th, several local businesses have reported customers paying with counterfeit American $50 bill, which all had the same serial number: D29868999A.

RCMP advise businesses to pay special attention to American cash, and, if it suspected that businesses have been handed a counterfeit bill, call Red Deer RCMP immediately at 403-343-5575.

We’ve also seen a variety of other types of scams in the City from those who offer romance, pretend to be police, tell tales of family members in emergency situations, or announce that their potential victim has won a prize.

Whatever story scammers are spinning, they’re hoping potential victims will observe basic ‘rules’ of human interaction – rules that scammers will exploit. Scammers rely on their targets’ good manners, that they won’t hang up or will remain polite, even when scammers become aggressive. Scammers rely on many people’s reluctance to ask aggressive questions, and will prey on people’s emotions and fears about loved ones. And scammers usually insist on immediate action.

Some scammers use the names of real charities or organizations. RCMP advise people to ask for verification names, phone numbers and other business information. Then don’t call back to a number given to you by the original caller – look up the organization in the phone book or online and contact them through their usual channels. Ask if they are legitimately making calls in your area and ask to speak to the people whose names you were given.

According to the Government of Canada web site, there are ways to protect yourself from fraud. The web site includes tips like, don’t be fooled by the promise of a valuable prize in return for a low-cost purchase; be extra cautious about calls, emails or mailings offering international bonds or lottery tickets, a portion of a foreign dignitary’s bank account, free vacations, credit repair or schemes with unlimited income potential and don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection.

The bottom line is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Under no circumstances should you ever give out your personal information, no matter how desperate or convincing the person asking sounds. Unfortunately citizens can never be too careful these days.