Watch out for these 12 scams this holiday season
For most people, the holiday season is a time for giving. But for fraudsters and scammers, it's a time for taking.
Ontario Provincial Police are reminding people to be aware of a dozen common scams during the holiday season.
Killaloe OPP say they have investigated several gift card scams, offers involving bank loans and credit line scams, and emergency gift card scams in the last few weeks.
Here are 12 popular holiday scams you should stay on the lookout for this holiday season.
If you see a huge, flashy discount ad that redirects you to a website that looks like the legimitate manufacturer's, be careful. It might be a fake.
Selling goods and services online
If you're selling things online, be wary of payment offers that are more than the asking price. And make sure you receive a legitimate payment before you send the product.
It's been a rough few weeks for crypto, but fraudsters are still using social media and fraudulent websites to take advantage of customers.
Ask for information on any investment you make online. Research the team behind it and analyze its feasibility. You can also verify if the company is registered by using this National Registration Tool.
These happen all year round, but can be more effective during the holidays. Someone with a fake identity online lures you into a web of lies spun with loving messages and sweet promises. The fraudsters play on your emotions to maximize their payday over time.
If a listed price for an online item—an event ticket, a vehicle, a puppy, you name it—is too good to be true, it probably is. It could be a fraudster posing as a genuine seller and posting a fake ad for something that does not exist.
Research before you buy and whenever possible, exchange goods in person or use your credit card for payment.
Phishing emails and texts
You may receive messages claiming to be from a legitimate source, such a a bank, phone provider or shipping company, asking you to submit or confirm your personal information. They may even include a malicious link to click. Don't click links in any strange emails and double-check the sender.
Gift exchanges on social media can seem like a fun activity. You only send one gift and receive multiple in return. However, this exchange collects some of your personal information and also hides a pyramid scheme where only those on top profit.
Congratulations! You got a random call out of nowhere that you've won millions of dollars, a fancy car, or a free cruise. You didn't even enter the contest! The caller just needs your personal information and a small fee payment before proceeding with the prize.
Remember: If you didn't enter, you can't win. You can't enter another country's lottery without purchasing a ticket from within that country.
In Canada, if there are fees associated to a prize, they are removed from the total winnings. You would never be required to pay fees in advance.
Is a supposed loved one reaching out to you because they need money now and you're the only one they trust to keep it a secret? Resist the urge to act immediately and verify the person's identity by asking those questions a stranger wouldn't know.
Gift cards are a popular and convenient way to give a gift. They should also be considered cash: once they are exchanged, it is unlikely that you are getting your money back. Gift cards are not meant for payments and no legitimate business or organization will request them.
Make sure you keep your wallet on your person and cover your PIN at all times. Remember NOT to share passwords or provide your personal information.
If a fraudster does get a hold of your personal information and is going on a shopping spree using your name, you need to act fast.
Contact your financial institutions and the credit bureaus Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada as soon as you notice any of the following:
- Suspicious activity on your financial statement
- Unauthorized activity on your credit report.
- Letters approving or declining credit applications you did not authorize.
- Re-routed mail.
- Bills from service providers you do not use.
- Your information was compromised as part of a database breach.
Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
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