Use your instincts to avoid a scam
For seniors targeted by fraud artists, Scott Lundrigan has some important advice.
“Don’t blame yourselves when these people come after you,” said Lundrigan, Prince Edward Island’s Crime Stoppers Program coordinator. “They don’t pick victims personally because the victim is naive. They’re literally after everybody.”
Right now he is working on a program to help seniors recognize the warning signs of a fraud. While some types of fraud target seniors more – such as those that pretend to involve a loved one – they don’t discriminate.
“I was selling a motorcycle a couple of years ago and I was targeted by someone who tried to get my personal information.”
Lundrigan said social media can increase the likelihood of people being exposed to frauds, but there are some red flags people can watch out for.
"If someone wants to be paid in gift cards, run away. That's not something businesses do,” he said. “If they're becoming abusive or really pressuring for an immediate sale, that's a warning sign.
"And of course, trust your instincts. If something seems like it's too good to be true, there's probably a problem."
There is usually no need to report receiving a scam phone call, email or text to police, unless you are actually a victim of fraud. If you’ve given money or personal information to a scammer, you can call the police or Crime Stoppers.
Lundrigan said the problem of fraudsters will probably remain. "The people targeting you are probably working on hundreds at the same time, and there are people working different frauds from places all over the world," he said.
"The best protection is telling people how they can watch out for fraud and helping them to prepare themselves."
Be fraud aware!
- Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met.
- Don’t be afraid to be rude.
- Hang up when you feel uncomfortable.
- A legitimate agency will not be verbally abusive to you.
- Legitimate agencies won’t demand payment in gift cards or pre-paid credit cards.
- You may receive mail or email indicating you won a contest. If you don’t remember entering a contest, this is a red flag. Do your research.
- Never send money in order to claim a prize.
- If shopping on classified sites like Kijiji, never send money before receiving the item.
- Conduct transactions in a public place. Bring someone else with you.
- Scammers are clever. If you do fall victim to a scam, don’t be ashamed. Ask for help.
- Call your local police non-emergency line if you’ve given out your personal or financial information OR if you’ve sent money to a scammer.
Get more information on fraud prevention and signs of a scam.