Be aware of internet scams over the holidays

by Tammy Schneider

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It’s the time of year for Christmas festivities, getting together with loved ones and unfortunately, scammers.

The number of packages delivered by couriers this time of year has con-artists operating in high gear, looking to separate you and your hard-earned money.

For example, a Kincardine resident, who we’ll identify as DS, received an email notice that UPS had tried to deliver a package to their home address but no one answered the door. Could DS click on this link to arrange an alternate delivery date?

DS doesn’t often use the services of a courier, so deleted the message and was surprised when just a few days later, the message was received again. DS “suspected it was spam” but remarked that it “was a pretty spiffy presentation”, complete with the UPS logo. DS realized that in these days of online shopping and courier delivery, it would be very easy to click on such a link.

Constable Kevin Martin, South Bruce OPP, says that clicking on that link can cause you a world of trouble. It gives the sender the ability to download a virus or program on to your hard drive and access the information you keep on your computer.

Martin says “these scammers and con artists are a reality in today’s world.” Scammers may try to reach you through your computer, but will also use texting or phone calls to reach you.

Emails can be deleted, unwanted texts can be blocked and in the case of phone calls, he suggests to simply hang up on the caller. He says “their tactics are disgusting and they will go to any length. Con artists can become rude, threatening and are just terrible.”

Martin says if you are contacted by email, phone or cell and are uncertain about the authenticity of the caller, verifying the caller is your number one defense.

Some scams involve impersonating reputable businesses, like DS’s UPS emails, and are simple enough to verify, but there are other schemes, including ones Martin calls grandparent schemes, puppy schemes and romance schemes. Martin says as long as scammers are making money, they will keep perpetuating the frauds.

And they do make money. Martin says at the end of Sept. 2021, approximately three quarters of a million dollars had been lost to scams run in the Municipality of Brockton, the Municipality of Kincardine, the Municipality of South Bruce, the Township of Huron-Kinloss and Arran-Elderslie, this year. That number only reflects the number of scams reported to the OPP. Many people, realizing they have fallen victim to these con-artists, are too embarrassed to report the fraud to police.

If you believe that you have been a victim of a scammer, you can report it to the Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

If you have purchased iTune gift cards and shared the ID numbers, or sent cash, Martin says unfortunately, that money is gone. If you have shared personal information with a scammer it should be reported to the proper agency immediately. For example, a shared social insurance number should be reported to Service Canada, a shared drivers license number should be reported to Service Ontario and shared bank information should be reported immediately to your bank.

Be aware of internet scams over the holidays was last modified: December 1st, 2021 by Tammy Schneider

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