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Don’t let a Grinch steal your Christmas - watch out for these scams!

['Another busy week for Annapolis RCMP']
The RCMP and its Seniors Safety Program in Annapolis County are urging residents to watch out for scams. - File

BRIDGETOWN, N.S. - While most people are giving gifts this time of year, a handful of greedy Grinches are out to fleece the unsuspecting and take advantage of their Christmas spirit.

Staff-Sgt. Ed Hubbard at the Annapolis District RCMP, and Seniors Safety Program coordinator Sharon Elliott sent out their annual newsletter recently and offer up some advice on avoiding scams and frauds.

“On behalf of the Annapolis District RCMP, I would like to join Sharon in extending our warmest wishes to everyone for a safe and happy holiday season,” said Hubbard. “While this may be the most festive season of the year, it is also a time when we heighten our crime prevention efforts.”

He said unfortunately many scammers and fraudsters take advantage of the holidays with extra scams that have holiday twists.

“We hope our newsletter will help you stay well informed, and able to enjoy a safe and scam-free holiday and year ahead,” he said.

Following are some tips on how to stay safe from scams:

Holiday Scams – Watch out for scammers preying on holiday activities, e.g., claiming there is a problem with your Canada Post parcel, gift delivery, credit card payment, on-line purchase, PayPal account, travel arrangements, and even airline ticket. Always make your own independently verified contact with a business or service before believing a message from an unknown caller or email message.

CRA Tax Payment Scams – Many residents are receiving aggressive telephone messages warning they owe money to Revenue Canada and payment must be made immediately to avoid a fine, a police arrest, or even deportation. Scammers will try to have you make a payment through a money service business (such as Western Union), prepaid debit/ credit cards, or even iTunes cards or Google Play cards. Don’t pay. It’s a scam.

CRA Tax Refund Scams – Scammers are also representing themselves as agents with Revenue Canada and contacting residents by phone and by email to inform them that they have a refund pending. These criminals will try to get your personal information in order to provide your refund. Don’t share your personal information. It’s a scam.

Caller ID Spoofing – Scammers have the technology to hide their real identity and produce a fake telephone number and name in your call display to trick you into providing personal or financial information. Recently, scammers spoofed the Bridgetown RCMP phone number and had it showing when placing fraudulent calls. Do not rely on call display to confirm the legitimacy of a caller. Always verify phone numbers independently before sharing any information.

Survey & Contest Scams – while on-line, watch out for pop-up surveys, contests, and promotions offering you quick and easy chances to win amazing products, cash, trips and opportunities. These scams can pop-up while you are on legitimate sites, so don’t let that drop your guard and lull you into a false sense that the pop-up is a legitimate offer.

Credit Card Scams – watch out for scammers calling or emailing you with information that there has been an incorrect charge or fraudulent use of your credit that has been flagged by the security department. They will then try to get you to verify you are in receipt of your card by having you read the card number and security information on the back. Don’t do it. It’s a scam to steal your credit card information, not protect it.

Banking Scams – watch out for scammers calling under the facade of conducting a police investigation into suspicious banking practices and needing your help. These scammers will try to talk you into providing your personal banking information to set up or get into your online banking, or have you send or wire payments back to the scammer. Remember, never share your personal banking information.

iTunes Cards/ Google Play Cards/ Prepaid Credit or Debit Cards – It is a scam if anyone calls and asks you to purchase these cards to then scratch and read the numbers off the back. Don’t do it.

Emergency Scams – watch out for a call or email from someone posing as a friend or family member who claims to have an emergency need for cash. Don’t panic and don’t send $$$. Contact your family first as you’ll most likely find this to be a scam.

Email & Website Fraud – Watch out for emails that at first glance appear to be from a legitimate business (such as your bank, phone company, PayPal, iTunes, etc…) or even a friend. It is very common for scammers to make small changes in legitimate web or email addresses to trick you into disclosing your personal or financial information for the purpose of financial fraud or identity theft.

“Free” can be a dangerous word online – Be aware of on-line offers for “free” trial periods of “amazing” products. All you pay is for shipping and handling. But, buried in the fine print, in colour that washes into the background, are terms that obligate you to pay $15, $79, $99… a month in on-going fees for on-going products.

Your computer is infected – watch out for pop-up windows alerting you your computer has been infected and prompting you to click a link that will run a scan or upgrade your anti-virus software. Clicking unknown links can install malicious software giving thieves access to your on-line information – emails, banking & credit card information, and the ability to steal your money and identity.

Searching online for help to fix your computer – can lead you right to a malicious website or phone number with a scammer on the line. Online search results can always present a risk if you begin clicking links that take you into the unknown. Remember, look closely at the web addresses you access so that you are familiar with those you know are legit and better attuned to those that are suspicious. If you do begin a conversation or computer interaction that starts to make you concerned – end it immediately.

Please call anytime if you have a question or concern on:

• Personal Safety & Home Security Tips

• Consumer Frauds & Scams – Prevention Tips

• Internet Safety & Security

• Identity Theft Prevention

• Safeguarding Your Personal Information

• Seniors & the Law

• The Vial of Life

• Senior Abuse Awareness & Prevention

Contact Sharon Elliott at 902-665-4481 or sharon.elliott@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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