You hear about fraud in the paper, on the news, or even from people you know. There are different types of fraud and they all have one thing in common: someone is trying to deceive you for what you have for nothing. Here are some of the different types of fraud you may hear about or encounter.
Credit CardThe convenience of a credit card comes with risks that we rarely ever think about. And when we suddenly realize our credit card had been used to make unauthorized purchases, we are left in shock with absolutely no idea how that possibly could've happened. One of the most common ways a credit card number can be stolen is when it is handed off to an employee of an establishment and leaves your sight. Whether it was for a split second or for several minutes, you don't know if it's been swiped in a second machine that records your credit number. To prevent credit card fraud, try your best to keep your eye on your card or the actions of the person you handed it to. In instances that you can't, try to use a card with a lower credit limit so that you minimize the losses if your card number had been compromised. Some banks are offering credit cards with a PIN option rather than the traditional signature option to authorize purchases. Though slightly less convenient, the risks are greatly reduced. For online purchases, ensure that the website is legitimate and that the web address says "https" accompanied by an icon of a closed padlock at the bottom of the window.
Mail/E-mailThis type of fraud involves letters or messages informing you that YOU have just WON! The prize could be a number of things but it is usually money. We've heard it a thousand times before but if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. You can recognize a scam when:
- You never entered a contest or bought a lottery ticket but are told you have just won one.
- You have to pay either a fee or a person in order to obtain your prize. Real lotteries never charge fees. If there is a fee it will be subtracted from the prize winnings. You never have to pay in advance.
- You have to provide personal details, especially bank information, in order to have the prize money transferred to your account.
- The return e-mail address host is usually from a free e-mail account such as Hotmail or Yahoo! Real businesses will never use free e-mail accounts.
PhoneOften times the victim of a phone scam was led to believe that they are the winner of a substantial prize. The prize can come in the form of money, a free vacation, or a promotional product in which the price is significantly lower than one would find in the regular market. Scams can even take the form of charities. Here are some signs of a phone scam:
- The caller is more excited than you are.
- You don't know how they got your phone number.
- You never entered a contest for which the caller is claiming you had won.
- You're required to pay a fee or make a small purchase in order to receive your prize.
- You have to provide information about your finances, bank accounts, or credit cards.
- A charity is pressuring you to make a donation or is thanking you for a donation you don’t recall making.
If you receive a suspicious phone call, don't be afraid to hang up. If it sounds legitimate, especially in the case of charities, take the time to ask questions such as their charitable tax number and how they got your number. Ask them to send you information in writing and then do some research. Never disclose any personal information over the phone.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or received any scam material, call your local police. The Vancouver Police Non-Emergency can be reached at 604-717-3321. Taking action can prevent others from being victims and help combat fraud.