March is Fraud Prevention month, and the Better Business Bureau kicked it off today by counting down their Top Ten Scams of 2016 and how to prevent becoming a victim:

  1. Fake Online Endorsements and Sponsored Content– Consumers are enticed to purchase a product or service based on reviews by social media influencers. The reviews may not be genuine and the influencer may have been paid to do it.
  • read everything online with a “grain of salt”
  • seek other review sources and
  1. Canada Revenue Agency Scam (CRA Scam)– The number one scam of 2015 has persisted and is now on the 2016 list. A crackdown on a call centre in India has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of calls targeting  Canadians.
  • CRA does not make threatening phone calls
  • CRA does not request information by phone or email
  1. Fake Lottery Winnings– If you didn’t enter, you can’t win. These calls come at all hours and claim you’ve won a big US lottery, but you need to pay a tax or insurance fee before you get your millions.
  • do not ever pay to receive lottery winnings
  • contact the corporation directly
  1. Binary Options Scam– Big promises of low risk, high returns, and full refunds entice Canadians to take a chance on an unregulated 50/50 bet on a stock’s performance. They delay winnings — if you win at all.
  • understand high risk is involved
  • seek professional investment advice
  1. Wire Fraud / “Spearphishing”– Spearfishing is a big problem for the business community. Millions are lost when scammers pose as company brass and demand money be wired to a fake company email.
  • find payment redundancies in your business
  • be vigilant on any incoming emails
  1. Online Purchase Scams– Counterfeit merchandise, goods that never show up, fake websites, and free trial traps are everywhere.
  • shop on legitimate websites
  • use third party payment portals and other secure website payment options, like Paypal
  1. Advance Fee Loans– Paying an up-front fee to get a loan is illegal in Canada and the US. These scammers prey on those who don’t qualify for loans through reputable lenders.
  • you are not required to pay fees for loans
  • seek alternative finance options
  1. Identify Fraud– Scammers steal your identity to secure credit cards, bank loans, and even rent property in your name. Even children are susceptible to identity fraud.
  • never carry your social insurance card with you
  • change your online passwords regularly
  1. Romance Scams –Online dating is big business for scammers. “Catphishing” is when a fraudster fakes an identity and tricks someone via dating sites into a phony emotional or romantic relationship for financial gain.
  • do not wire money to people you have never met
  • if they are out of the country or you have never met in person, run the opposite way
  1. Employment Scam– The most reported scam to the Better Better Bureau involves people getting a job they haven’t applied for – generally a job you do from home. They are asked to deposit cheques and to send money back to the company.
  • do research on companies before accepting
  • if you did not apply, it’s not real
  • if you are asked to deposit cheques to send money back, it’s a scam

For more information on scams and how you can protect yourself, visit the Better Business Bureau website.