Red Flags of Fraud

It’s scary the number of ways fraud can come at you. Online, over the phone, even at your doorstep – fraud can be anywhere. Stay out of fraud’s reach. Learn to spot these red flags:

Where they find you:

On the Phone – Frausters will say anything to get your personal information or money. They might pretend to be a family member (often a grandchild) in an emergency. They might tell you that you have won a vacation.  Sometimes they say they have a hot new investment to sell.  They pressure you to make a quick decision.  They don’t give you time to think about the offer or get a second opinion from someone you trust. The scammer does not want to take the chance that someone would warn you about the scam.

A stranger asking you to wire transfer money or tell them personal information is a major red flag of fraud.  If you get a call from someone pressuring you to send money, give out your credit card number, or buy something you don’t want, hang up. If they pressure you to provide personal information like your Social Insurance Number, hang up.

In a Text Message – Scammers send texts about fake job offers, tax refunds, and more.   For example, they might offer a chance to be a mystery shopper.  Or, they may promise to pay you a lot of money to  wrap your car with a company logo. Sometimes, they send text messages pretending to be a government agency, bank, or other company, and ask for personal information.  They may sound official, but these organizations won’t text you for information that important. Be careful of any text message from a phone number you don’t recognize.

At your Door – Complaints often have to do with unclear contracts, bad quality products or services, or the customer not receiving the products or services they bought. Some common door-to-door scams include impersonating a charity, a fake investment opportunity or a service scam for home repairs or maintenance. 

In the Mail – If you get a letter out of the blue that says you have received a huge inheritance, won a lottery prize or promotes an investment opportunity – watch out! These scam letters usually come from overseas. Businesses can also be targeted by phony past-due invoices demanding  payment for a service they never requested.

In an Email – Emails are an easy way for fraudsters to reach you. They create email messages with links to fake web pages that look like the real sites.  These scams are also called phishing.  The scammer hopes you will click on the link and enter personal information, like PIN numbers, credit card numbers and bank account details, on the website.  Sometimes these emails look like they came from a friend or someone in your contact list.  If you’re not sure, don’t reply to the email or click on a link.  Contact the company or your friend and ask if they sent you a link before you click on it.

Online scams  – Be careful when you are online. Ads for a free trial or free gift after completing a survey may seem like a good idea.  But you may be signing up for something and not know it.  This can lead to an unexpected bill in the mail.  If you have to provide credit card information to pay for the free trial shipping and handling, be careful.  Read the fine print before signing up for a free sample.

Scammers may post fake online classified ads or impersonate a real online store.  They might sell knock-offs, or ask you to wire money somewhere to pay for an item. Always follow the guidelines and safety tips on the classified site when buying or selling online. 

Don’t click on ads for binary options.  Binary options are illegal in Canada.  The scammers set up fake investment trading websites and tell you how easy it is to make lots of money.  You have to give them your credit card information so you can put money into your trading account.  But no real trading takes place; they just steal your money. 

What they say:

Scammers use lots of tricks to try and catch you off guard.  Be on the look out for these red flags. 

“Keep it a secret!” The scammer doesn’t want you to tell anyone because they might warn you it’s a scam! If you are told to keep it secret, stop.  Don’t give them any money. And report the fraud.

“There’s no risk!” “Double your money fast!” “Make lots of money working from home!”  “This is guaranteed!” These are all warning signs.  If you’re offered a get-rich-quick pitch, walk away. 

“Don’t be left behind!” We all hate missing out on a great deal. Scam artists take advantage of that fear by pressuring you to act fast and not think it through.

“Everyone else is doing it!”  Scam artists might use your friends or family against you.  Affinity fraud (or “fraud among friends”) relies on the trust you place in your friends and the fear of not keeping up with them financially.  Scam artists target religious, ethnic, or close-knit groups by working their way into organizations and gaining the trust of members in order to rip them off.   Social media sites are the newest way scam artists are targeting potential victims.


In this section:

Become a Master of Spotting Fraud (English)

كن خبرياً يف اكتشاف عمليات اإلحتيال

Become a Master of Spotting Fraud (Arabic)

Recognizing and avoiding a fraud or scam protects your own financial future, but it is critical that once you recognize a fraud or scam, you protect those more vulnerable by reporting the fraud attempt.

2017 © Financial and Consumer Services Commission