Although there is a long list of different scams that target Edmontonians every day, there are commonalities between the scams. We’ve compiled a list of common red flags and signs that you may talking to a scammer.
Remember: scammers prey on emotions, whether that’s fear, love, panic, or guilt. Take a step back from what they are telling you and think about the legitimacy of the situation. Pick up the phone and talk to someone you trust; family, friends, or us (780-423-4567).
When a scammer calls you and is:
- Threatening you with deportation, arrest, fines, etc.
- Requesting payment in unusual forms, like gift cards, Bitcoin, money orders, or commercial wire service transfer.
- Telling you to lie to your family, store clerks, bank employees, and police about what you’re doing.
- Telling you not to talk to anyone about what you’re doing.
- Telling you to pay them in order to get a job, receive a prize, get your money back, etc.
- Asking for personal information, your SIN number, and/or financial information.
- Leaving an alarming message, requesting you to dial a number to proceed or to call another number provided. These calls are being made to hundreds of thousands of people with hopes a few will comply with the request.
- Sending you money (e-cheque, e-transfer, or money transfer) with instructions to send back all or a portion in Bitcoin, gift cards, or any form of currency back.
- Pretending to be your grandchild or other family member and claims to be in trouble and asks for help. The scammer may try to convince you that your family member was in a car accident or had been arrested. You may be asked to wire money right away, without telling anyone.
*If someone calls you claiming to be from a certain organization, you can hang up, find the phone number yourself and call the organization. You can then verify if the phone call you just received was legitimate or a scammer.
**Beware of call spoofing** Scammers commonly fake their caller ID names and numbers making them appear to be calling from a company or government agency.
***If someone is claiming to be your grandchild or another family member with claims they are in trouble and need money, ask them questions only they would know and hang up and call them back if you can or call another family member to verify the claim. Scammers can not only find out personal information online through social media, but they can also disguise their voice to sound like the person they are impersonating and often make excurses for not sounding like the family member they claim to be. They may even claim there is a bad phone connection or they have an injury that makes them sound different.
When you receive a text message from a scammer:
- It includes a link for you to click (NEVER click a link from someone you do not know!)
- It claims to be from a company (like a bank, PayPal, Netflix), and they say you have a refund to collect, you owe money, your account has been suspended, etc. A lot of these texts claim to be from companies you don’t even use. So, if you don’t have an account with them, it’s clearly a scam.
*If you do have an account with the company it’s claiming to be from ask yourself, why would this company be sending me a text message? Do they even know your phone number? Do they even send text messages? If so, did you sign up for text messages with them?
When a scammer contacts you online (via email or a social media platform) and is:
- Using an email address that’s not from the company they say they’re from (usually it’s close, but not the same). You’d expect an email from Amazon to come from @amazon.ca not @amazon.12345.com.
- Has a lot of spelling and grammatical errors you would not expect from an employee of that company.
- Asking for money, financial information, or personal information.
- Offering something that is too good to be true (winning a prize without entering, getting a job you didn’t apply to, price of an item is well-below average, quick return on an investment, telling you they love you even though you’ve never met, etc.)
- Asking for payment in unusual forms, like gift cards, Bitcoin, money orders, or commercial wire service transfer.
- Exploiting you for money. This has come up when a scammer has a password linked to your email address and claims to know what kind of videos you’ve been watching online and that they’ve recorded you while you’re watching those videos.
- Telling you to click a link or download attachments. NEVER click a link or download an attachment from someone you do not know!
- Telling you to change account information (typically banking information) for a company you work with. Call your contact with that company and verify this change!
“Beware of unsolicited emails and electronic messages requesting personal information from you. Do not provide personal information without researching the legitimacy of the source of these messages. Did you initiate the interaction or was it unsolicited?”
Other tips on how to limit being the victim of a scam and avoid being targeted by fraudulent communications:
- Scammers typically use robot dialers, which dial every possible number. They can detect when someone answers, so they mark those answered calls as real numbers. Ignore phone calls from numbers unknown to you; if it’s someone who needs to talk to you, they will leave a message and you can call them back.
- Contact your phone company to inquire about caller control. This service makes it impossible for robot calls to reach you. If you have an apartment buzzer or use delivery services that call you, you can add these numbers to an allow list.
- If you have given money to a scammer, your information may be shared with other scammers. Consider changing your phone number and/or email address if you have been a victim of a scam.
- If you are talking to unknown persons on the phone or online BE ALERT. Without realizing, victims of frauds commonly provide personal details to a scammer who began with no information about you.
- Limit the personal information you post online and on social media. Scammers can use this information to steal your identity, access online accounts, or make you trust them.