More than 75,000 people in Canada filed fraud complaints in 2021, many of them in the senior population. As an SRES® designee, it is important to be aware of current scams targeting the 55+ community so you can help advocate for them if a need arises. Here are some tips that can help you identify a scam before falling victim.
1. Verify the Organization
Call them back: Scammers want to build trust fast—preferably in a matter of seconds. They will often pretend to be from a government service agency, like Service Canada or Canada Revenue Agency, or other well known organizations such as Apple, Amazon, or local utilities companies. These imposter scammers often have specific, personal details that make them seem legitimate. Be sure to never give out your credit card or social security details over the phone unless you are the one who initiated the call.
SCAM SAFETY TIP: If someone contacts you from an organization you trust, remind them to verify that they are who they claim to be. They can hang up or stop replying, then contact them using information on the organization’s website.
2. Be Skeptical of Urgent Problems or Sudden PrizesIf you receive a call about a sudden problem (a missed bill, back tax, family health emergency) that until now, you hadn’t known about, be alert. Seniors should be reminded to be skeptical of any unexpected prizes like sweepstakes or all-inclusive vacations. Oftentimes, scammers will use these scenarios and ask for a “small fee” to claim winnings.
SCAM SAFETY TIP: Be aware of people who present you with a problem or a prize. Never give out personal details or credit card info over email or over the phone during an unexpected, incoming call.
3. Avoid Oversharing Personal Details OnlineScammers are experts at extracting info. Sometimes they will research their targets beforehand. They might call and know your and family members’ names, hometowns, or home purchase prices. This kind of information is available online and is easy for them to access. Having this information also makes it easy for them to win your trust and get more details from you. After purchasing a home, your personal details may be more readily available online. Be alert and avoid sharing personal details.
SCAM SAFETY TIP: Keep social media accounts private. Never give someone who contacts you remote access to your computer or device.
4. Always Take the Time to Double CheckIf someone is pressuring you to make an immediate payment, be very suspicious. Scammers expect victims to act fast, before anyone can realize they are illegitimate, so they threaten with losses. If you feel nervous, time-pressured, or afraid of losing benefits during a phone call, it may be a scam.
SCAM SAFETY TIP: Even if something is urgent, there is always time for you to verify details online.
5. Pay with Credit CardPay with Credit Card: Scammers often request specific forms of payment. Anytime someone asks to be paid quickly via wire transfer, gift card, or mailed cash, be wary. Most legitimate organizations offer a variety of safe, traceable payment options and let you decide the best form of payment.
SCAM SAFETY TIP: Only use protected, traceable methods of payment. Using a credit card means you can dispute payments “after the fact” if a product is not delivered as advertised.
BONUS TIPTo opt-out of marketing calls and easily recognize scams, consider registering your number with the National Do Not Call Registry at https://lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/en. Within a month of submission, all legitimate businesses should stop calling you. Scammers will still use your number, but you will know that the calls you receive are not legitimate.
For more information on scams and frauds, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/fraud-scams.html