RCMP say 'Tis the season for the North Okanagan to be targeted by a variety of phone, email and online scams.
Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP would like to remind the public of a few of the favourites, and remind everyone of some basic safety tips.
#1- Canada Revenue Agency Scam
In the latest rendition of this scam, a person is contacted by phone and told that they owe thousands of dollars to the CRA and threatened with jail if they don't provide the money. They are often instructed to buy iTunes cards, activate them and provide the codes to the fraudsters.
Usually this scam is directed at grandparents, but over the years we've seen con-artists pretend to be friends, neighbours, and other family members. The con artist calls the grandparent and pretends to be a grandchild in need. Typically they claim to have been in a car accident, need bail money or have some sort of other emergency.
The con-artist will ask the victim not to tell anyone else due to embarrassment or fear. The victim wires money to what they think is their grandchild in need, but in reality is a stranger who just conned them out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
#3- Prize Scam
This one is constantly being reinvented, but the general idea is that the con-artist contacts a victim by phone, social media, or email and says that they've won a large lottery or sweepstake. The victim is then told they must pay a fee up front to receive their winnings. In some cases, the con-artist has even convinced victims to turn over bank account information.
In all cases, despite giving the con-artists the fee they demand, victims never see a cent of the supposed winnings.
So how do you protect yourself?
•If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
•No matter who you think is calling, never give out personal information over the phone.
•Remember, the CRA uses registered mail to contact consumers- not email or phone.
•Use your common sense. For example, ask yourself why a branch of the government would want iTunes cards?
•If someone contacts you allegedly from a company, hang up and contact the company yourself to verify the information.
•when in doubt discuss it with a friend. Never rush into a decision because someone is pressuring you.
What should you do if you become a victim on a scam?
1.gather all the information about the fraud. This includes anything written down, and receipts/bills.
2.Report the incident to your local police.
3.Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
4.If the fraud involves a bank or company, notify them.
5.If it was an online fraud, notify the website of the incident.
6.If you are the victim of identity fraud, you should place flags on all your accounts and report to both credit bureaus (Equifax and Transunion).
For more information on frauds, scams, and how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim, please contact the City of Vernon's Community Policing Office in person at 2900 32nd Ave, by phone at (250) 550-7840 or online at https://www.vernon.ca/government-services/contact-directory/community-safety-office.