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Fraud – What it is and How You Can Tell

The fight against fraud starts with you. Learn to recognize, reject and report it.

Scammers are sneaky and sly. They can target anyone, from youngsters to retirees. Fraud covers a broad range of activities targeting private individuals, businesses or governmental organizations. No one is immune to it, and it can lead to relatively high costs, initially and potentially down the road.

In general, it is thought that crime rates are decreasing in the Western world, but by contrast, fraud appears to be increasing at alarming rates in recent years. This sharp rise in fraud can be attributed to the fact that much of life today, both business and personal, depends on internet connectivity with the institutions we deal with every day. As a result, a large part of today's fraudulent activity is cyber-related.

With free resources from The Competition Bureau of Canada, you will be better prepared to diagnose, rebuff and report fraud. Further, various prevention partners listed on the Bureau's website work together to combat fraud. You can access their resources here.

Signs of fraud and scams from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

  • The offer is too good to be true.     
    • "High returns with little or no risk—guaranteed!"
  • You are urged to invest without being given much information about the investment.     
    • "It's complicated. You don't need to know the details."
  • You are pressured to make a decision fast or on the spot.     
    • "You must act now. Tomorrow will be too late."
  • You are given "insider information" that others don't know about.  
    • "Very few people know about this. That's why it's such a hot tip."
  • You are asked to keep matters secret.     
    • "Don't tell anyone, or this fantastic loophole will close."
  • You are asked to give financial information (personal identification numbers (PINs), credit card numbers, passwords, banking account information, etc.) or personal information (Social Insurance Number, date of birth, address, mother's maiden name, etc.) over the phone, by email or on a website you do not know.    
    • "We just need to confirm your information."
  • You are made to feel guilty if you refuse to go along with the transaction.     
    • "Don't be so cautious. Don't you trust me? You'll regret passing this up."

Make sure you take the time to reflect on the situation when dealing with anyone you do not know. If you are not sure, ask a friend or colleague or even the police. A few moments of prevention on your part could save a valuable amount of your money, your reputation and your time.

With information from The Competition Bureau of Canada and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

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