Tips to Protect Against Fraud
Tips to Protect Yourself or a Family Member from Fraud
It is very sad to learn the number one crime against older Canadians is fraud.
Con artists may target older adults who are wealthy, but they will also target average senior citizens. After all, a small amount of money from a lot of people adds up.
Awareness of the types of fraud committed against vulnerable people is a first step towards prevention. The more you know, the easier it is to recognize the signs before you fall prey.
A con artist will appear very likeable, trustworthy and helpful. Although everyone is a potential target, a widowed senior living on his or her own is more vulnerable.
Fraud can take place over the phone, the Internet, by regular mail or in person.
Many victims of fraud neglect to report the crime for a number of reasons: they are embarrassed, they may be protecting someone out of loyalty, or they may not even realize they have been victimized.
Fraud prevention facts and tips:
• Do not check on the identity of a person who comes to your door by calling the number on their business card. If someone is not legitimate, chances are the person answering the phone is part of the scam.
• Con artists can be male or female.
• Just because you have something in writing does not mean you are protected by a guarantee – or that the company is even real. Anyone with a computer can produce an official looking receipt or phony business license.
• If someone says they represent a charity, take the time to confirm the charity is actually registered with Revenue Canada.
• Never give your banking information to anyone – including over the phone or the Internet. Many emails look genuine but a bank will never ask you for your account numbers or passwords.
• Do not give out any personal information over the telephone.
• Never let someone into your home. Con artists, working in teams, may introduce themselves as from the utility company. One may ask to see a meter, often located in the basement, while the other asks to use the washroom. Since you cannot keep both people in your view at the same time, this is a scam often used to steal money, jewelry or medications.
• Although asking for identification is not a foolproof safety check, never let anyone into your home if they have NO identification.
• If a caller says you have won a very valuable prize but you must first submit payment to cover the taxes or insurance or some other cost, hang up. This is not a valid lottery or contest.
• Never rush into an agreement. If someone is pressuring you to “sign now”, chances are they are trying to take advantage of you. Call a legal representative or financial advisor for feedback and advice before you enter into a contract.
• There is no such thing as a legitimate get rich quick scheme.
Remember the old sayings: “Nothing is free,” “buyer beware” and “you never get something for nothing.” Con artists and fraudsters hope you forget this good advice and believe them anyways.
The Toronto Police Service has several departments that can answer your questions before you enter into any type of transaction that may leave you vulnerable. If it is an emergency, call 911. For non-emergencies call the Police at 416-808-2222 to speak with staff in any of the following departments:
• Project Senior
For more information:
Frauds and Scams Against Seniors by the Toronto Police Service
Note: Spring and summer are active seasons for con artists who target seniors for home renovations. We will cover that topic when the better weather finally arrives.
Jeffrey Kerr, Broker, RE/MAX Unique Inc.
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Jeffrey Kerr, Broker, RE/MAX Unique Inc., Brokerage
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