So far in 2020 the Prince George Detachment has received more than 170 fraud related reports with 44 of them reported from March 1-9. During the same periods last year, the detachment received 151 fraud reports with 27 of them in the first nine days of March. These are 13 per cent and 63 per cent increases.
There are at least two possible reasons for the increase. Fraudsters are getting more creative and increasing their success despite the increased public awareness, or the public are becoming more educated about frauds and are reporting more incidents to police. As much as we hope the answer is the ladder, it is likely the former.
Each year police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre learn of new, bold and creative frauds that cost Canadians millions of dollars. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canada’s central repository for information about fraud, now has a warning on their website (www.antifraudcentre.ca) advising that scammers are using fake domains to spoof and impersonate their organization.
The most common scams reported in 2019 are extortion type frauds including the taxpayer scam. This is where victims are coerced to pay back taxes under the threat of being arrested. Variations also include scams involving immigration, ransomware and sex-tortion. This continues to be the most common reported fraud in Prince George.
In order to avoid tax scams, remember the following general words of advice:
- Do not take immediate action. The government has processes in place to acquire owed money, none of which are immediate;
- Know who you are dealing with. Obtain their contact information and search it on the internet.Often the contact info will be associated to frauds and not the CRA. This is a clear warning that this is not legitimate;
- Hang-up and call the Canada Revenue Service’s (or other government agency) toll free phone number in the Blue Pages of the phone book or from their website, www.cra-arc.gc.ca.
- Never give your personal information to anyone that calls you over the phone.This is especially the case when an organization such as the Canada Revenue Agency calls and should have all your necessary information already;
- Never agree to wire back funds to the government.
For more information about frauds and scams involving the CRA visit the Canada Revenue Agency web page at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html.
Frauds involving personal information are the second highest reported type of frauds reported last year. This is where scammers contact would-be victims by email or phone pretending to be a business, bank, utility company, government agency or other organization urgently requesting personal information such as name, address, birthday, bank account information and/or social insurance number. Once provided, the scammer can steal the victim’s identity and acquire credit cards and loans in the victim’s name.
For a full list of the top frauds in Canada go to www.antifraudcentre.ca.
For general tips to protect yourself from scams and frauds, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website or click https://antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/protect-protegez-eng.htm
If you have any information about fraud offences in Prince George, please contact the Prince George RCMP at (250)561-3300.