The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.

Don’t let scammers prey on your vulnerability

The global pandemic has made everyone anxious and that can open the door for scammers.

The Clearwater RCMP are asking residents to be careful about scams through any form, including phone, text, email and even social media, and say they are experiencing an increased number of reports about the deceiving interactions.

There are many scams out there, maybe most notably a scam from a robo-caller who claims to be calling from Canada Revenue Agency, saying you owe them money. It’s been around for a while, but these callers can mask their real numbers, showing a call from a seemingly normal or familiar-looking number.

Never give anyone your social insurance number over the phone or any media, like Facebook or Twitter. The RCMP also want to remind social media users to be vigilant about their information as scammers can obtain data, such as your name and the name of family members who live elsewhere, through the social media outlets.

Sometimes the information gathered can be used to call or reach out to you telling you that a family member is in the hospital or is in jail and requires an e-transfer of funds to remedy the situation. That lie may feel legitimized when a scammer provides the name of a loved one. When in doubt, hang up and contact the person in question.

The Government of Canada’s anti-fraud centre website contains information about how to report fraud, a list of scams and how to protect yourself. You can access the page here.

The Clearwater RCMP advises those that are not tech-savvy, such as the elderly, to reach out to a family member for assistance using the internet.

When in doubt, contact your local RCMP detachment for advice. To contact the Clearwater RCMP, call 250-674-2237.

Scammers will also use something currently in the news, like COVID-19, to confuse you.

An example from Crime Watch Canada asks you to watch out for phone calls like this:

Scammer: “Good morning. According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for seven days and take a COVID-19 test.” (If you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive, the BC CDC says to self-isolate for 14 days if you don’t have symptoms, and to get tested if you do.)

Callee: “Okay. Can you tell me who that person was?”

Scammer: “I’m not able to tell you that. That is confidential information, but you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours. So can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?” (Currently, the Health Canada has only authorized tests to be administered by health-care professionals or trained operators. Self-testing has not been approved, but Health Canada said it is open to reviewing all testing solutions.)

Callee: “Okay. (Gives address.)”

Scammer: “Thank you. I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalize this and send the kit to you.”

Callee: “Sorry, a payment card? I thought this was all free?”

Scammer: “No, I’m afraid not. There is a one-time fee of $50 for the kit and test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you’re ready.” (The test for COVID-19 falls under MSP, unless it is an asymptomatic test that falls outside of B.C. public health recommedations such as travel or employment.)

Callee: “No. That’s not right.”

Scammer: “I’m afraid it is. Can you give me the card number please. This is very important and there are penalties for not complying.”

This is how scammers work. They prey on the vulnerable, who often fall for it. If it seems wrong, it probably is. It is always okay to hang up and call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or your local RCMP detachment.

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