Don’t get scammed – how to recognize fraud and what you should do

January 27, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

The Government of Ontario has issued warnings on how to spot a scam and what to do if you suspect someone is trying to fraudulently get your money.

You should be very cautious before giving personal information to anyone over the telephone or online. Scammers will pretend to be from your bank, a utility company, insurance company, or even a government agency to steal your identity or get money from you.

It is particularly important to be aware that if someone claiming to be from the government contacts you asking for personal, financial, or health information, it is most likely a scam.

There are legitimate reasons why government staff would contact you by email or phone, for example, if they’re responding to an inquiry you have made or a complaint you have filed. In that instance, they will reference a file or case number, or specific correspondence that you have sent.

The Ontario government will never reach out to you directly to ask for personal information such as a Social Insurance Number, bank account number, or health information. They will never offer you money or a reward when asking to sign you up for a rebate program.

The government may reach out to you about things like your license plate expiring, via digital reminders, the need to renew a business license or a change to legislation or regulations relevant to your business.

If you do believe someone is trying to scam you, you can report it to your local police and get a report number for future reference. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre provides valuable assistance to law enforcement agencies by identifying connections among seemingly unrelated cases.

There are also regulatory bodies related to professions, that may have the ability to take disciplinary action.

If you think you have been scammed, there are some key steps you should take immediately to reduce your risk of losing more money, protect your personal information, and avoid being scammed again.

You should stop all communication with the fraudster, and report the scam or fraud to your local police or any appropriate regulatory bodies. Notify financial institutions and other companies where you have an account that may have been affected. Avoid making any major financial decisions until you feel you’ve taken action to secure your accounts. Gather all records you have of the fraud, including correspondence with the scammer, financial statements, receipts, contracts, and website and social media accounts involved.

If the scam occurred in person, avoid touching documents that the scammer may have touched, and protect them with a plastic case or cover.

If the scam involved personal devices, you should take your laptop or tablet to a professional to have it checked and ensure security software is up to date.

If you receive a text, email, or telephone call, and someone requests your credit card number, banking information, or other personal information, it’s most likely a scam.

Other scams include people claiming to be law enforcement, a legal practitioner or government official, claiming you owe money under threat of arrest or pending charges if you don’t immediately pay a fine.

In these cases, you should just hang up and not communicate with them at all.

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