RCMP file photo

Tax time means scam time

Residents alerted to attempts to defraud them

The Houston RCMP detachment is issuing a warning for residents to be wary of fraudsters who will use many ways of communicating their illegal intent now that tax time is approaching.

“The message we want people to hear is: just don’t,” says Houston RCMP detachment commander Sergeant Mark Smaill. “Don’t engage with the anonymous caller; don’t follow the link in an email; don’t respond to the text message. Always contact the parent company yourself to verify the information is correct.”

Robocalls programmed by people posing as “Canada Revenue” and “Service Canada” seem most prevalent, Smaill said.

“Often these scammers ask for money transfers and gifts cards as payment. This type of request should be a huge warning sign that the person is dealing with a scam artist and should hang up the phone immediately,” he added.

Thankfully the detachment hasn’t had any reports recently of people who did send money.

There are also reports beginning to surface elsewhere of callers pretending to be COVID-19 vaccine schedulers who then ask for social insurance numbers and other personal identification.

The federal Canadian Anti-fraud Centre regularly collects information on various methods of fraud and then issues tips for people to protect themselves from fraudulent schemes:

-Don’t be intimidated by emotional pleas that play on your emotions

-Always verify that the organization you are dealing with is legitimate before taking action

-Do your research by verifying charities with the Canada Revenue Agency

-Verify any calls with your credit card company by calling the phone number on the back of your card

-Don’t give out personal information

-Protect your computer by having anti-virus software installed and up-to-date

-Be careful who you share images with

-Protect your online accounts by using strong passwords

If you are the victim of fraud, stay calm. Here are some important steps to follow:

-Gather all the information about the fraud, including documents, receipts and copies of emails or text messages

– Contact your financial institutions and report the incident to the financial institution that transferred the money

– Place flags on your accounts and change all of your passwords

– Report the fraud to both credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion)

– Report the incident to your local police and get a file number for future reference

The toll-free number for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is 1-888-495-8501 and its website is https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

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