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Fraud Prevention

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Stacks of credit and debit cards

Don't fall victim to fraud

Whether it's Internet or mail fraud, deceptive telemarketing or identity theft, fraud is a serious problem. York Regional Police wants to prevent you from becoming a victim through education and awareness.

Thousands of Canadians lose millions of dollars every year through frauds. Save your money and keep yourself from becoming a victim of fraud by learning how to identify a scam.

Ongoing scams

There are always new and inventive scams criminals come up with to try to steal your money and identification. Educate yourself so you know what to do if you are targeted in a fraud.

Check out the Competition Bureau's Little Black Book of Scams.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam

York Regional Police has seen a recent increase in reports of tax-related scams often conducted over the phone phone or email, in which the suspects identify themselves as police officers.

In recent incidents, fraudsters have made contact with victims by telephone and have identified themselves as police officers calling to collect overdue taxes owed to the CRA. Back taxes have been demanded in the form of cash, wire transfer or iTunes gift card. The fraudster advises the victim that they have an overdue amount of taxes to pay and if they don't they will be arrested.

In some cases, suspects have been able to utilize software to alter their phone numbers to make it appear that they are calling from a police phone line. Suspects have also arrived at victims' homes in person, seeking money.

York Regional Police does not engage in tax collection of any type and do not arrest individuals in relation to overdue taxes. Any call or email of this nature should be considered a scam. If you have concerns about the possibility of overdue taxes, this should be discussed and confirmed directly with the CRA.

Credit and debit card fraud

If your identity is stolen or your credit history is compromised, it can take years to recover, and affects your sense of security. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself:

  • Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards.
  • Check monthly statements carefully and report any discrepancies to the issuing credit card company.
  • Never loan your credit cards to anyone and sign all credit cards when you receive them.
  • Cancel credit cards you do not use and keep a list of the ones you use regularly.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery and do not leave pieces of mail lying around your residence or workplace.
  • Shred bank statements and all paperwork you no longer need.
  • Never give out your passwords or Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Home repair/service call fraud 

These types of scams involve the fraudster going door-to-door offering a great deal, on a service such as driveway paving, and pressuring you to make a decision quickly. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Always ask for and check identification of anyone coming to your door.
  • If you are unsure, do not let the person in.
  • Call the company to ensure they have representatives in your community.
  • Check references.
  • Always get a second quote or estimate.
  • Be wary of any company asking for money up front.
  • Talk to a friend or family member or have them with you when you are arranging services.
  • Do not rush your decision. Do your research.
  • Never leave anyone alone in your home.

Financial fraud

This fraud involves individuals giving out personal, confidential information to an unknown person on the phone or computer. Legitimate financial institutions will never ask you to divulge information in this manner.

  • Remember banks do not cold call or email customers to verify financial information.
  • Never give out any banking or financial information over the phone or Internet, especially passwords or PINs (Personal Identification Number).
  • Always ask for receipts.
  • Do not open any email or attachments from people or organizations you do not know.
  • Ensure your computer has an updated virus-protection program.
  • Internet users can check for email scams by going to Snopes or other search engines.
  • Be cautious. You have the right to research an investment or buyer by requesting written information, seeking references, asking questions, weighing the answers and taking time to think over the offer.

Telephone fraud

Everyone has received a call stating you've won a free cruise, the lottery or made a request for a donation. Use extreme caution when answering these calls.

  • Always verify the charity/company is legitimate
  • Often what is initially free, can end up costing you thousands of dollars
  • Never give personal information over the telephone or the Internet
  • Ask the caller if you can call them back so you can research the information they have given you. Don't be surprised if they hang up.

ATM fraud

While using an ATM is a quick and convenient way to conduct financial transactions, you need to use caution to ensure your account is secure.

  • Be aware of your surroundings when entering your PIN and do not disclose your PIN to anyone.
  • Cover the key pad when you enter your PIN.
  • Be mindful of people trying to distract you.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen credit/debit cards.
  • Check your account statements monthly and report any withdrawals or purchases you cannot account for.
  • If you discover anything at a banking machine that looks suspicious (a card skimmer, for example), notify your bank immediately or contact the police for assistance.

Advance fee fraud

Everyone can struggle with their finances from time to time; however you need to use caution when transferring money through a third party.

  • A newspaper ad or telephone call about "easy credit" or an "easy loan" is a red flag.
  • If you are asked to pay a fee in advance of receiving the funds, it is a scam.
  • Never send money in advance.
  • It is illegal in Ontario to ask for an advance fee for a loan.
  • Don't accept overpayment for goods or services.
  • Report it to police and the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.

Romance scams

The search for love and companionship can be both exciting and scary. In your quest to meet the right person, scammers will play on your feelings to extort money from you. Be careful when embarking on a new relationship and educate yourself on the techniques scammers use.

  • Both men and women have the potential to become a victim of a romance scam.
  • Fraudsters will troll different dating sites, looking for their next victim.
  • Online profiles can easily be faked or stolen. Do some research on anyone with which you begin to form a relationship.
  • Relationships will progress quickly and terms of endearment will be used to convince you trust them.
  • Once trust has been established, the requests for money will start. They may be small at first and then requests for more money will be made.
  • In almost every case, the victim will never recover their financial loss and will be required to pay any outstanding debt.

Emergency/grandparent scams 

Generally targeting grandparents, this scam plays upon emotions to rob them of their money. Typically, a call is made from someone claiming to be their grandchild. They will state they are in trouble and need money immediately. Sometimes a second call will be placed from someone pretending to be a lawyer or police officer. Don't fall prey to this type of scam.

  • Always verify the person's identity.
    • If someone is claiming to be a family member, ask them questions only family members would know.
  • Contact the family member in question. Emotions might be running high but take the time to check.
  • Never send money to someone you don't know.
  • Don't give out any personal or financial information to someone you do not recognize, or whose identification cannot be verified.

Learn more about preventing yourself or your loved ones from becoming victim to grandparent scams.

Business cheque fraud

Business cheque frauds occur when a company cheque has been altered and cashed. Here are steps business owners and representatives can take to prevent this crime:

  • Call your local bank branch and report the forgery of your cheque. Ask the branch to put a manual alert on your account to verify all cheque transactions.
  • Open a new chequing account and order new cheques.
  • Monitor the account until all legitimate cheques have been cleared. Do a daily account reconciliation and report any fraudulent cheque withdrawals to your branch immediately. Some banks will only give you a 72-hour window to report a fraud once they have been made aware that your account has been compromised.
  • Once all real cheques have cleared, close the account

These cheques are used to perpetrate a scam such as the mystery shopper scam, the lottery scam, the inheritance scam, etc. The person who cashed the cheque will be held responsible by the bank to return the funds to them.

In all instances, the bank is the victim of the cheque fraud, not an individual.

If you believe your cheques were compromised through the mail system you may also wish to contact Canada Post online or at 1-800-267-1177.

Report the theft or fraudulent use of a cheque online.

Additionally, make sure to check your credit history by contacting a national credit-reporting agency in Canada:

Additional resources

For more information: