In recognition of Fraud Prevention Month, I recently joined HomeEquity Bank’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Vivianne Gauci, for an Instagram Live to discuss the common scams affecting Canadians 55 and over and provide tips to protect yourself and your loved ones. Here’s what you may have missed!
Canadians are being Targeted
Canadians are increasingly the target of fraudsters and scammers. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC) reported a record-breaking $531 million lost to fraud in 2022.
Even more worrisome? According to IPSOS research commissioned by HomeEquity Bank in 2022, over half of Canadians 55 and over report being targeted by scammers, with a staggering 36% report having fallen victim to a scam.
And, it doesn’t matter who you are. Scammers approach everyone, and anyone can fall victim, including me! A few years ago, when my husband and I were doing some landscaping, our landscaper was hacked. The scammers knew everything about us. So, when the scammers said we had an outstanding balance, we believed them, and made the payment. The fact is, there are things we could’ve done differently. We didn’t have to respond to pressure tactics. We could have done more to verify the source of the call. We also shouldn’t have shared as much personal data as we did.
How to identify fraud: Know the Signs
By educating ourselves about common scams, we can learn to avoid them. Below, are a few scams impacting Canadians that Vivianne and I discussed.
The Grandparent Scam:
Scammers sometimes pose as grandchildren in need of financial help. They’ll often ask you “not to tell mom and dad.” The CAFC reported over 700 reports of the “Grandparent Scam” across Canada in 2022, with victims losing over $4 million. If you’re ever in doubt, remember to hang up the phone and call back via a known number.
The CRA Scam:
Scammers will often pose as a government agency, such as the Canadian Revenue Agency, and use scare tactics to put you into a state of panic. For example, sometimes they will claim the police are after you, or that you owe a massive tax bill. It’s important to always check the source of a phone call. If you’re ever in doubt about who’s calling, hang up the phone, and look up an official number to call back.
The Romance Scam:
Fraudsters will sometimes attempt to befriend older Canadians online. After earning their trust, they begin to ask for money (usually in smaller amounts). But the requests for money will typically increase over time. Romance scams cost Canadians of all ages over $50 million in 2021.
In fact, Vivianne shared her experience with a Romance Scam, featuring a deepfake Keanu Reeves. Stay tuned for her upcoming blog which covers this in more detail!
Fraud Prevention Tips: How to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones
- With the number of new scams impacting Canadians, it’s important to remember to always be vigilant. Be wary of unexpected correspondences, odd payments offered or requested, and requests for sensitive personal or financial information.
- Scammers will frequently use aggressive or high-pressure tactics to pressure you into acting quickly. Any honest business will let you take as much time as you need to make decisions with your money.
- It’s crucial to be aware of the resources available to further educate yourself about potential frauds and scams:
- You can watch HomeEquity Bank’s 4-part “Catch the Scam” series and learn from the best in Frank W. Abagnale, the world’s most famous con man turned FBI informant.
- Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center website for information on past and current scams affecting all Canadians.
- Look out for a new series on Chip.ca and learn how you can “Unmask the Scam.”
If you suspect an online fraud or scam, report suspicious activity by calling the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre hotline, toll-free on 1-888-495-8501 or by notifying the police. Remember, being the victim of a scam is nothing to be embarrassed about – I’ve been there!
Pattie – PLR@heb.ca