What is fraud?

Fraud is when someone deceives you into handing over money, property or your personal information for their own gain.
It is a crime to commit fraud.

People who commit fraud have one of two goals:

Get your MONEY NOW

Get your PERSONAL INFORMATION NOW so they can get your money LATER

Anyone can be a victim of a fraud or a scam.

If you think this has happened to you, you are not alone. In 2018 the Better Business Bureau reported that Canadians lost $121 million to scams. It is estimated that only 5% of scams get reported to the police, so this number is a lot higher.

If you think you have been a victim of a fraud report it to your local police department or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at: 1-888-495-8501.

Visit our resources page for more information on where to get help, HERE.

BIST has created some helpful stickers and magnets to help remember these tips when dealing with a potential scammer. To download or order some click HERE.

These are the Top 3 Signs Someone is Trying to Scam You

#1. You are being PRESSURED or THREATENED 

Scammers will often threaten or pressure you into handing over your credit card, money or other personal information. They may tell you the police are on their way to arrest you if you don’t give out information immediately. They may tell you there is a service you need (for example, claiming your roof needs fixing) and say you need to pay a large deposit in order to secure the deal that day. Legitimate business people or government workers will not pressure you or threaten you to pay money or give your credit card or any other information. Being pressured or threatened is a common sign that someone is trying to scam you.  

#2. Someone comes to your DOOR UNEXPECTEDLY, trying to sell you a service they claim you need

Most door-to-door sales are illegal in Ontario. People who come to your door to try and sell you a service or product are likely scammers. Do not let them in your home. Shut the door and do not talk to them. If they are legitimate they will allow you to contact their employer to verify their information. If a salesperson is in your home and will not leave, or makes you feel uncomfortable, call the police.

#3. They want your PERSONAL INFORMATION 

Scammers can access your identity using personal information and use it to get things like credit cards in your name. This is identity theft, and it is a serious crime.

Examples of PERSONAL INFORMATION you SHOULD NOT GIVE OUT include:

  • Where you were born
  • When you were born (your date of birth)
  • Bank account or credit card numbers
  • Bank account or credit card numbers
  • Your Internet passwords
  • Your mother’s maiden name
  • Your driver’s license

You can find out more about identity theft and how to protect yourself from it, HERE

Scams can happen anywhere at any time, but are most common over the phone, the Internet and when someone comes to your door. Here are examples of how to recognize all three types.

Phone Scams:

Phone scams are a common type of fraud. While there are many types of phone scams, some are more common than others. When it comes to protecting yourself from a phone scam, remember legitimate callers will NOT:

  • Pressure you to hand over your credit card or driver’s license information
  • Make threats against you if you don’t do what they say, such as “the police are on their way right now to arrest you” or “you’ll be charged a penalty fee”

The ONLY WAY you can confirm you are getting a call from a legitimate source is to call the Government Office or company back YOURSELF.

You need to use a phone number you have found on your own. Do not trust the phone number a caller gives you.

Do a Google Search to find the right number, or call 211 to get contact information on government and community services. 211 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is a free community information service. Simply dial 211 on your phone.

Find out about Common Phone Scams, HERE

Door-to-Door Scams

Door-to-door scams are another type of fraud. Never let someone who comes to your door unexpectedly into your home. Most door-to-door sales are illegal in Ontario. Some scammers may call you first to get you to invite them into your home at a later date. You can call the police if a sales person in your home is making you feel uncomfortable. In Ontario, the following products are NOT ALLOWED to be sold door-to-door. This means it is illegal for someone to come to your door and try to sell you:

  • furnaces
  • air conditioners
  • air cleaners
  • air purifiers
  • water heaters
  • water treatment devices
  • water purifiers
  • water filters
  • water softeners
  • duct cleaning services
  • any good or service that performs or combines one or more of the above functions

If you called a contractor to do a service such as a repair, they can not enter into a new contract with you at this appointment. They can only leave you information on their products and services.This means, if you called a furnace repair person, they can not sell you other services while they are in your home to do that repair. They can leave information about their other services, and you can choose to purchase them at another time, or not.

Information on Service Contracts:

If you sign a service contract, you have the right to cancel it without reason within a 10-day period. In addition, a consumer contract MUST include specific information about the goods and services you are buying and your rights as a consumer. If the contract does not have this information, you can cancel the agreement within one year of signing the contract. The Government of Ontario has more information on cancelling a contract and knowing your rights as a consumer, HERE

Find out about Common Door-to-Door Scams, HERE 

Online Scams

Scams in the online world are thriving. Usually they happen by tricking you into clicking on a link in an email or pop-up window, which installs software on your computer allowing scammers to access your personal information. This can also happen when someone tricks you into spending money or handing over personal information.

Malicious software (Malware)

Scammers can install malware on your computer by getting you to click on a link in an email or pop-up window or by tricking you into visiting a website, which installs software on your computer. This software then lets scammers access your personal information such as passwords, and can give them total control over your computer, including access to your camera. Other names for malware include spyware, Trojan horses or Trojans.

Phishing

Phishing is when scammers trick you into handing over your personal information such as your bank account. Some common clues an email is from a scammer are:
  • Look closely at the spelling of the sender’s address. If it looks strange or has a typo, it is likely a scam.
  • There is a generic greeting (not personalized)
  • They want you to click on a link. Be careful: the link that’s shown isn’t necessarily the right link. To make sure the links match, hover over it to make sure it matches. Don’t click on it!
  • The dollar sign is on the wrong side of the numbers.

The top rule here is if it looks suspicious, delete the email. Do not reply to the email and do not click on any links!

See EXAMPLES of SPAM EMAILS and what they look like, HERE.

Here are tips for making safe online purchases: 

  • Become familiar with the website you are using. Their contact information should be easily available and include: the business name, address, phone number and email address. It is better to deal with businesses that are located in Ontario, when possible.
  • Before you buy, be sure you know the full cost, including taxes, shipping and handling and duties.
  • When you enter your credit card information online, be sure it is on a protected server. For more information on how to tell if a website is secure, see below.
  • Read customer reviews of the product and the company before you purchase the item. Print or save all receipts, invoices and agreements related to your purchase.
  • Never enter your credit card information in a pop up message that comes on your screen. Real businesses do not do transactions this way.
  • Do not use public WiFi, such as at the Public Library or at a coffee shop, to buy online as these networks are not secure.

How to tell if a website is using a protected server:

  • Check the status bar. The website should begin with https://

 

  • Check to see if the site has an EVSSL certificate, this will appear with a coloured company logo next to the address:
  • Check to see if there is a padlock icon in the status bar:
Website should have a padlock icon in the status bar

The Government of Canada has a video about how to tell if a website is secure:

Find out about Common Online Scams, HERE