10 Things You Can Do To Avoid Fraud


Whether by phone, email or at your front door, fraudsters will seize any opportunity to get your money or personal information. The Financial Cost of Fraud Report, developed by advisory and risk firm, Crowe, in conjunction with the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth, revealed that fraud costs the global economy over US$5 trillion. To put this figure into perspective, loses from global fraud represent nearly 70 percent of the US$7.4 trillion the world spends on healthcare. This is a staggering sum of money.

As the costs of global fraud continue to rise year over year, individuals are finding themselves increasingly targeted by scammers. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to fraud. This handy guide will introduce you to common scams used by criminals and provide 10 tips to help ensure that your identity and financial information remains secure. By being informed about the multitude of ways thieves use to steal personal information, you can better protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Romance Scams

In this scam, fraudsters target the victims via online dating sites. They click, wink, or message a potential love interest and within days tell the victim they’ve fallen in love with them. The fraudster often poses as someone much younger who lives overseas, which conveniently makes it difficult to meet each other in person. Once the fraudster gains the victim’s trust and love, they will begin asking for large sums of money to help with a variety of financial emergencies, ranging from family healthcare expenses to job loss.

Inheritance Scams

The fraudster, often posing as a young, attractive woman will say she is living overseas and has received an inheritance from a recently deceased family member in another country. The catch is she needs money to acquire it. The fraudster will request a large sum of money from the victim to pay for a never-ending list of expenses, which may include legal fees, travel expenses and inheritance taxes.

Taxation and Immigration Scams

In these scams, fraudsters impersonate a government official or immigration officer if they discover an individual is new to the country. They tell the person that they owe a large sum of tax or an immigration fee to the government and if they don’t pay within 24 hours they’ll be arrested or worse, deported.

Lottery Scams

In the Lottery Scam, fraudsters mail what looks like a certificate showing that the recipient has won an overseas lottery. The letter comes with a fake letter from a law firm saying that the recipient must respond within 24 hours to claim their prize. When an intended victim contacts the firm, they are asked to pay a small handling fee to receive their winnings. The fraudsters will then proceed to collect the victim’s personal information, including address, phone number, credit card number and bank account details.

Phishing Scams

More than one-third of all security incidents start with phishing emails or malicious attachments sent to unsuspecting recipients. These scams are based on communication made via email or on social networks. In many cases, criminals will send users messages or emails by trying to trick them into providing valuable personal data. Login credentials from bank accounts, social networks, work accounts, and popular e-commerce sites are all desirable targets. After you click on a malicious link, you will be redirected to a fake login access page that resembles a real website. If you’re not paying attention, you might unknowingly end up giving your login credentials and other personal information.


Red Flags for Scams

These methods of accessing money are common in many scams. Never use these methods to pay anyone you don’t personally know.

Personal Bank Transfers – A fraudster will ask the victim to e-transfer money from their bank account to the fraudster’s personal account. In certain scams, the victim may be conned into giving their banking information and password which allows the fraudster to empty out their account.

Pre-paid Credit Cards – Criminals will get the victim to buy a prepaid MasterCard or Visa card from a grocery store or convenience store. The fraudster will then get the account number from the victim and exploits those cards.

Western Union and MoneyGram – A scammer will ask the victim to arrange a bank transfer through these companies either online or in-person with an agent. The fraudster claims the money at a Western Union or MoneyGram location with the money transfer number and identification.

Cryptocurrency – If you receive a cryptocurrency transfer request, assume it is a scam. Cryptocurrency payments are quickly becoming the favoured medium of exchange for online criminals.

composite of hands using smartphone with padlock background

10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Fraud

1. Don’t believe in love at first click. When someone writes or says they are in love with you online within days, it’s suspicious – no matter how great you are.

2. Don’t trust caller ID. Fraudsters use technology to fool people. They can ‘spoof’ numbers to make calls show up as official agencies on your call display.

3. Don’t wire transfer money using Western Union or MoneyGram to someone you’ve never met in person. Fraudsters often use this method to collect money because it’s untraceable oversees.

4. If someone says you cannot call them back, then they are not a government official.

5. Don’t believe government threats of arrest, violence and deportation. A government official would never make these threats.

6. Never click on links listed in an email message, unless it is from a known sender, and do not open any attachments contained in a suspicious email.

7. If you hover over the URL link in a communication and it’s an extremely long and complex, chances are it’s the work of a fraudster.

8. Keep track of contests, draws, or lotteries that you enter. Also, test the caller; ask them to tell you the specific location where you entered.

9. Do not enter personal information in a pop-up screen. Legitimate companies, agencies, and organizations don’t ask for personal information via pop-ups.

10. Never send money or give personal banking details to anybody you don’t know and trust, even if they’re very nice and helpful.

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