March marks National Fraud Prevention Month and the London Police Service (LPS) is doing its part to raise awareness by asking would-be scam victims to “recognize, reject and report.”
The LPS launched its local campaign on Thursday and shared in a media release that the past two weeks alone have yielded reports of dozens of frauds occurring in London, the most common being targeted computer fraud and identity fraud, which were reported 20 and 19 times, respectively.
Other data from the timeframe includes 10 reports of credit card and bank fraud, eight reports of emergency or grandparent scams, six reports of frauds involving cheques, and numerous reports of other frauds, including service fraud and romance scams.
Romance scammer charged with defrauding Holocaust survivor of $2.8M
While those numbers are concerning, the LPS says over that same time frame, they also received more than 20 reports from citizens reporting failed fraud attempts, meaning they weren’t taken in by the scam.
“That’s something we’re seeing more and more,” said Det. Sean Harding, who works in the LPS’ Financial Crime Unit.
Harding credits education efforts on local, provincial and national fronts, which have grown in recent years as new frauds and scams emerge, for driving an increasing number of prevented frauds.
“We just had one today — another officer came into the office to report that his mother this morning was able to reject a grandparent scam.”
The LPS’ website provides a long list of tips for spotting, preventing and reporting a wide-range of frauds and scams.
The most up-to-date information can be found on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website, which also keeps a running tally on the impact of frauds nationally. As of Jan. 31, nearly 4,000 Canadians have lost a combined total of $43.6 million to fraud. In all of 2022, the centre reported about $531 million in losses among 57,055 victims of fraud.
‘They can clean you completely out’: Seniors being defrauded using distraction technique
If you’ve already learned how to spot and prevent fraud, Harding says it’s just as important that you spread the word.
Court reduces sentence for Moncton Mountie killer Justin Bourque
CSIS officer fired for complaining publicly about agency’s lack of COVID-19 masking
“Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to your loved ones. Make sure they know about frauds and the dangers of frauds and how to prevent them.”
You could also talk to your bank.
Janine Dale is the risk and compliance senior manager for the London-based Libro Credit Union, which has its own webpage dedicated to fraud prevention.
From a banking perspective, account alerts are a strong security measure for customers, along with ensuring all accounts have strong passwords that are changed regularly.
Dale added that financial institutions will never ask for personal information through email or text messages, especially if a customer did not initiate an action that would require that request to be made.
“The one other thing that I would recommend is to speak to your financial institution before completing any financial transactions that really aren’t part of your normal transaction activity,” Dale said.
“If you’re talking to someone and they tell you not to contact your financial institution or to lie about the reason for the transaction, then that’s likely fraud.”
Your bank can also help if you do happen to fall victim to a fraud and Dale recommends you contact them right away.
“Don’t be ashamed about it because fraudsters’ jobs are to trick you into giving information or giving money and they are really, really good at it,” Dale said.
“Each fraud case really is unique and your financial institution has experience dealing with at least most of them or all of them and will be able to walk you through your unique situation.”
Following a call to your bank, it’s advised that you contact contact police. In London, these calls can be made to the London Police Fraud Intake line at 519-661-5515, ext. 5257. Another call should be made to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 for statistical purposes on frauds across the country.
Even if you avoided falling victim to a fraud, it’s still recommended that your report the incident to police so that officers can learn what’s out there.
Consumer Matters: How to spot and avoid tax scams
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.