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Be wary of holiday scams

The amount of scams rise over the holidays, says the OPP. Police are raising awareness the many different scams that are common around this time. There are four main types of fraud, but Police say new ones are being created every day.

The OPP sent out these details as part of a press release, to warn everyone of these scams and what they entail.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Refund Scam:  You may come across one of two variations.

·        You will be advised that you have a “refund” pending from CRA and the communications will go on to instruct the receiver to provide personal information in order to receive the benefit.

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·        You or your company, as a result of an audit, owe “back taxes”.  You are advised you have to “pay up” ASAP to avoid a fine or the person is told there is an outstanding arrest warrant which can be avoided if the tax payment is made promptly.  In many cases individuals are being told they will be deported if the taxes are not paid right away.

The fraudster will often provide a link for you to follow which will request your personal information.

Very important!  The CRA does NOT email you to request personal information.  These are “phishing scams” that could result in identity thefts, financial loss, and may also contain malware that can also harm your computer.

Romance Scams:

The holiday season can be lonely for some people.  Fraudsters take advantage of the opportunity to steal photos, use social media and lure victims.  They may rush into the relationship, or they may continue the relationship over a length of time to develop a trust level which usually results in the victim losing more money.

Emergency or Grand Parent Scam: 

In the typical scenario a grandparent receives a phone call or email from a con-artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren. The culprit say’s that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. Typically they claim being in a car accident, trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money.  Unfortunately victims don’t verify the story until after the money has been sent as the caller specifically asks that they do not want other relatives to know what has happened.  Due to urgency and wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends money by a money transfer company such as Money Gram or Western Union.

Lottery, Sweepstakes or Contest Scams: 

You cannot win money or a prize in a lottery unless you have entered it yourself, or someone else has entered it on your behalf.  It is impossible to be chosen as a random winner if you don’t have an entry.

The fraudster will try to trick you into providing your banking and personal details to claim your prize. You should NOT have to pay any fee or tax to claim a legitimate prize.  They may tell you that the government approves of the lottery, sweepstake or contest to gain your trust.  Do not be fooled!

Understand that the internet has made buying and selling “anything” extremely convenient for the consumers and the scammers.  Make sure to research the website and review feedback with companies or individuals selling products.  If the price of a product is too good to be true, it is!

If you want to stay on top of scams, inform yourself on how to recognize them.  Visit law enforcement organizations’ websites, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, or other reputable organizations.

Visit Anti Fraud Centre for more information.

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