Top 3 scams for 2015

scamProtect yourself: The top 3 scams to look out for in 2015

1. Scams targeting students

Online and counterfeit goods

Students need to be cautious when buying merchandise online and are encouraged to fully review feedback and to deal with companies or individuals that they know by reputation or from past experience. If the buyer is not familiar with a particular seller, they should independently verify who they are. A good rule of thumb – if the asking price of a product is too good to be true, it is.

Counterfeiters have also become proficient in producing websites that have the same look and feel as the legitimate manufacturer. Counterfeit products are far inferior and in many cases could pose a significant health risk to consumers. For example, counterfeit jackets have been found to contain bacteria, fungus and mildew.

Students should do their due diligence and thoroughly research an online store or website prior to making a purchase. Confirm that you are dealing with the actual manufacturer and look for any warnings posted on their website.

How to protect yourself:

Never make a deal outside the auction site, and be cautious of items offered through online classified ads for extremely low prices;

Beware if there is limited or no feedback rating on sellers;

Beware of sellers and renters from overseas;

Use a credit card when shopping online, customers are offered protection and may receive a refund. Although email money transfers or debit cards are legitimate, an offer of protection for counterfeit products purchased online is currently not available.

Inspect the website thoroughly. Often counterfeit websites will contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

2.  Scams targeting seniors

Emergency scam

Scammers use social media, the internet and newspapers to target potential senior victims, a call is received claiming to be a family member or a close friend advising about an urgent situation that requires immediate funds. Common themes have been that the family member was arrested or got into an accident while traveling abroad. Fees are required for hospital expenses, lawyer fees or bail.  Usually, the potential victim is instructed to send money via a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram.

How to protect yourself:

Confirm with other relatives the whereabouts of the family member or friend.

Police, Judges or legal entities will never request that money be sent through a money service business.

Never voluntarily give out family members’ names or information to unknown callers.

Always question urgent requests for money.

3.  Scams targeting businesses:

Wire frauds

One type of wire fraud currently targeting businesses is the Business Executive Scam (BES) which is a type of phishing. The potential victim receives an email that appears to come from their employer’s human resources or technical support department. Fraudsters create email addresses that mimic that of the real departments.  An email message will be sent to the accounting department advising that the “executive” is working off-site and has identified an outstanding payment that needs to be made as soon as possible. The “executive” instructs the payment to be made and provides a name and a bank account where the funds, generally a large dollar amount, are to be sent. Losses are typically in the excess of $100,000.00.

Financial Industry wire frauds occur when Canadian financial institutions and investment brokers receive fraudulent email requests from what they believe to be an existing client.

Unbeknownst to them, the email account of their client has been compromised. A request is sent by the fraudster to the financial institution/investment broker to have money transferred from “their” bank account, usually to a foreign bank account.

How to protect yourself

Beware of unsolicited emails from individuals or financial institutions presenting an urgent situation requiring immediate attention.

Prior to sending any funds or product, make contact with existing clients in person or by telephone to confirm that the request is legitimate.

Watch for spelling and formatting errors and be wary of clicking on any attachments – they can contain viruses and spyware.

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