March is Fraud Prevention Month across Canada. This year, the Competition Bureau’s campaign focus is on “Tricks of the trade: What’s in a fraudster’s toolbox?” to help Canadians recognize the increasingly sophisticated tricks and tools scammers use to entrap victims.
Check out Westoba’s social channels and news section in the coming weeks for tips, information and conversation on the topic of Fraud Prevention. Educating yourself is the best thing you can do to reduce your chance of getting scammed, and by sharing, you can also protect our community.
Fraud Protection 101
Every year, thousands of Canadians fall victim to fraud, losing millions to scammers. Unfortunately, each day, a new type of fraud is invented. Fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated, so it’s important to learn how to recognize when a scam is truly a scam in order to protect yourself.
A common scam is for fraudsters to falsely posing as CRA employees designed to obtain an individual’s banking, credit card and other personal information. In this scam scenario, individuals are told that their taxes have not been paid and if not paid immediately, they will be arrested by police. For this scam and others like it, the CRA has provided information to help identify legitimate communication from the CRA on their website.
But this is only one of MANY scams in the marketplace today. You could be a target of fraud at any point, so here are some tips to help you identify if it’s a scam and what to do if you think you’ve been scammed:
- If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is a lie/scam.
- Bizarre threats & asks. The scammer may request payment in odd currency like bitcoin or gift cards. They tend to threaten that the RCMP will arrest you if you don’t comply.
- Knowledge is key. If you’re aware of the scams and hacking techniques being used, you will be able to identify when you are being targeted and remove yourself from the situation. Find tips to recognize the latest frauds in The Little Black Book of Scams published by the Competition Bureau of Canada.
- Beware of recovery scams. Victims of fraud are often targeted a second or third time with the promise of recovering money previously lost. Never send more money to recover money.
- Speak with one of our branch staff. Our staff are trained to spot potential scams and can provide sound and independent advice.
Never provide personal information through the Internet by email or over the phone if you are unsure who you are talking to or if it feels suspicious. If you are unsure about it, stop what you are doing and call us at 1-877-WESTOBA and we can evaluate the situation with you.
As a financial institution, when we reach out to you, we practice not requesting personal information through email or over the phone unless it is in relation to a transaction you have initiated. These include passwords, your 9-digit SIN number, PIN numbers, etc. When you call us, as a method of verifying you we may ask you a series of questions relating to your accounts held at Westoba. If you are uncomfortable answering any security questions, we encourage you to call us back at 1-877-WESTOBA (937-8622)
If you think you may have been a victim of fraud, you are encouraged to follow these steps:
Step 1: Gather all information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
Step 2: Report the incident to your local law enforcement. This ensures that the police of your jurisdiction is aware of what scams are targeting their residents and businesses. Keep a log of all your calls and record all file or occurrence numbers.
Step 3: Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System (FRS).
Step 4: Report the incident to your financial institution and/or the financial institution where the money was sent (e.g., money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, bank or credit union, credit card company or internet payment service provider).
Step 5: If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website as well. These details can be found under ‘report abuse’ or ‘report an ad.’
Step 6: Change any usernames, passwords and/or PINs that may have been compromised. Update all passwords stored in your computer, tablets or phone.
Step 7: Victims of identity fraud should place flags on all their accounts and report to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.
In order to protect you further, Westoba staff are aware of all current scams so they can better spot red flags and are available at any point to discuss safe online banking practices with members. If you’ve been a victim of fraud and think your Westoba accounts may have been compromised, please reach out to us immediately at 1-877-WESTOBA.