Don’t Buy into Fraud!
March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, marking the 11th edition of the annual education and awareness campaign that began by encouraging Canadians to learn about the signs of fraud, to protect themselves from becoming victims and to report fraudulent or suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies.
Spearheaded by the Competition Bureau, this initiative was adopted by the United States and the United Kingdom, making it the first international anti-fraud public awareness campaign. It is a unique effort that brings together over 125 law enforcement agencies and public and private sector organizations who share the common goal of fighting fraud.
Fraud is a crime that threatens every Canadian, regardless of education, income or age; its comes in a variety of sizes and forms, including imitation well-known brands online, false representations through telemarketing and on social media, identity theft, counterfeiting and more. In Simcoe North, we have seen examples of fraud, and I often have people bringing potentially fraudulent activity to my attention.
A crime scene does not always involve yellow police tape. When Fraud Prevention Month made its debut in 2004, online fraud had only recently appeared. Now, 11 years later, with the popularity of social media and the growth of online and mobile payment application, criminals are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to defraud Canadians. The newest crime scenes of the 21st century are online.
With this in mind, the Bureau’s theme for the 2015 Fraud Prevention Month campaign is: Don’t Buy Into Fraud.
As fraudsters become more devious and are able to access new platforms and technologies to commit these crimes, the challenge for law enforcement agencies is to have current information. This information is vital to efforts to catch perpetrators and it enables enforcement agencies and organizations to raise public awareness about potential fraud. The best way for agencies to access this information is through victim reports – we depend on complaints from the public in order to gather information and evidence to help us better combat fraud.
Every person who reports new information provides potential evidence for investigators; however, statistics show that the vast majority of Canadians do not report their experiences with fraudsters to police or other authorities.
That’s why each year, regardless of the campaign theme and despite an evolving marketplace, we continue to encourage Canadians, where fraud is concerned, to: Recognize it, Report it, Stop it.
Recognizing fraud is the first step. Scams come in many forms and being able recognize one is the best way to protect yourself and your family. You can do this by: being vigilant when evaluating ads; being aware of who you are dealing with; and being wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails, text messages, unexpected home visits or letters from unknown sources.
Examples that should raise red flags for consumers include: free games, mobile apps or trails that require credit card numbers, but provide you little in the way of information about terms and conditions; businesses that contact you seeking personal information by email, phone, home visits, text message or on social media; and lotteries that request a fee to deliver a prize.
Reporting your experiences to law enforcement agencies is an important step in stopping fraud.
Fraudulent or suspicious activity can be reported to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre, through its website at www.antifraudcenter.ca or by telephone at 1-800-348-5358.To report instances of misleading or deceptive marketing practices, the Competition Bureau can be reached at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca or at 1-800-348-5358. If you are a victim of fraud let your local police force know.
Fraud Prevention Month activities take place in communities and online across Canada, throughout March. To learn more about fraud, what you can do to protect yourself, and how you can stop it, go to the Competition Bureau’s website at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/fraud or contact the Competition Bureau at 1-800-348-5358.
I have included some helpful tips for businesses and consumers from the Competition Bureau of Canada. You can download them below. I hope you will find this information to be helpful!
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