Many people fall victim to fraud

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POLICING MATTERS COLUMN BY KEN MACDONALD

Have you ever received a call from someone who told you that you won a vacation cruise or have you ever received an email stating that you have been selected to receive a million dollar cash prize and all you have to do is give your bank account information?

Well these incidences may be obvious to some, but each year thousands of Canadians including residents in Pictou County fall victim to fraud.

Most people don’t think it could happen to them, but criminals are increasingly using sophisticated methods to target persons of all ages.

Technology and tactics that sound real and trustworthy have clearly proved the logical reason to why most become victims of fraud.

March was Fraud Awareness Month and New Glasgow Regional Police along with its partners in policing continue to promote ways to inform and protect themselves.

Here are some tips that will assist you that will protect you from fraud:

– Don’t be fooled by the promise of a valuable prize in return for a low-cost purchase.

– Don’t purchase a product or service without carefully checking out the product, service and company.

– Do not give out any personal information on the phone, internet, mail or in person without checking it to be true. Often criminals make scams very realistic.

– Check your credit report every year and report problems immediately.

– Be extra cautious about calls, emails or mailings offering international bonds or lottery tickets, a portion of a foreign dignitary’s bank account, free vacations, credit repair or schemes with unlimited income potential.

– If it sounds too good to be true it is.

– Financial institutions will never solicit assistance from you for internal investigation.

– Contact police or the financial institution immediately to verify the telephone call you received.

– Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection.

– Don’t be afraid to request further documentation from the caller so you can verify the validity of the company.

– Don’t disclose personal information about your finances, bank accounts, credit cards, social insurance and driver¹s licence numbers to any business that can¹t prove it is legitimate.

– Shred unwanted personal information such as bank statements, credit card bills, unwanted receipts, cheques and old tax returns.

– Do not let anyone in your house to check on security systems, water, power or other items without further checking with the company.

This can be done by using the phone book for the number.

Fraud is a crime that threatens every resident from Pictou County, regardless of age or gender. The best way to put a stop to fraud related crime is to recognize it and report it and stop it. By recognizing scams and reporting them, consumers and businesses can protect themselves and assist the Bureau and its partners in the fight against fraud.

Identity theft refers to acquiring and collecting someone else's personal information for criminal purposes. As of Jan. 8, 2010, Senate Bill S-4 became law, making it illegal to possess another person's identity information for criminal purposes.

Where identity fraud is the actual deceptive use of the identity information of another person in connection with various frauds related incidents.

Here are some tips identity thefts tips that will decrease your risk of becoming a victim.

1. Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared.

2. Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time.

3. Guard your mail. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office.

4. Use passwords (letters and numbers) on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Minimize the identification information and number of cards you carry in your purse or wallet.

5. Do not give out personal information on the phone, mail or the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you're dealing with.

6. Keep items with personal information in a safe place. An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling material. Be sure to tear or shred receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms and credit offers you get in the mail.

Fraudsters target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels. Fake contests, mail orders, Internet frauds, are some of the ways that criminals steal your money. Every day a new scam appears with a new method of gaining your trust falsely in order to make you believe that you are receiving a gift or service legitimately.

The end of the month of March wraps up Fraud Prevention Month. Remember to recognize it, report it and stop it. All scams are made to sound real and trustworthy.

If you need any other further information you can contact the New Glasgow Regional Police or the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Canadian Fraud Centre or other policing partners within Pictou County’s municipalities.

Organizations: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Canadian Fraud Centre

Geographic location: Pictou County

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