It's unlikely that scams are ever going to disappear so it's important to be aware of possible scams and to be suspicious of unusual things.
Visit the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker to see different areas and time periods. I'll be sharing common scams around Alberta this last year.
280+ scams were reported to BBB. Because these don't include any scams just reported to police, or ones that people didn't report period the "actual" number of people involved in a scam is actually much higher. Now, being involved in a scam doesn't necessarily mean that any money was lost. Some people recolonize the scam before anything or sometimes people are harassed but they don't fold.
Depending on the scam you may get your money back from your bank or credit card but not always. Even if you do get your money back there may be a delay in the refund and you might need that money. It's also possible that your name and info could be tarnished- "you" committed a crime, "you" ran up a credit card bill and refused to pay. Clearing your name can be challenging and time consuming.
Calling an Unknown Number
Not a BBB scam but important general knowledge. If you see a strange number on your phone or get a weird voice mail, don't call the number back. It may be a pay-per-call number that will charge you or someone's personal number could have been spoofed and the actual owners have no way of knowing what's going on.
It's also possible that there's more than one scammer working the phone so when you call the number they gave you for the credit card company a second person will pick up and say that they're legit and someone has been trying to contact you. Use contact numbers you all ready have or have easy access to.
Can You Hear Me?
You receive a phone call- perhaps from a travel agency or wanting your opinion on something-and get asked a questions that they hope you'll answer "yes" to. Is Joe there? Can you hear me? You're answer is recorded and then they use that recording to "confirm" that you agreed to products or services. They may all ready have your personal info and/or credit card info and just need that "yes" to spend your money.
How to Avoid: Avoid saying "yes", instead try "I can hear you", "Speaking", "He is here."
It's tempting to yell at the people or "trick" them into staying on the phone with you but just hang up. If you don't watch your words carefully you may accidentally say "yes" or something similar enough for the scam to work.
You think you're being offered free face cream but it's not. You may only be getting a certain number of days free to use the cream before you have to send it back and you may have all ready agreed to the $150+ monthly subscription. Even if you do send the product back in time they may claim it wasn't sent properly, not received in time, or lost in the warehouse so they're still charging you.
How to Avoid: If you feel you really want the item use a pre-paid credit card.
The government is sending you threatening letters and/or phone calls that you owe them money or else the police are going to arrest you.
You've received an e-transfer from the government, click here to deposit it!
Neither scam is how the government acts.
How to Avoid: Ignore any messages. Mark them as scam/phishing in your emails, toss the letters out, hang up the phone. Should you feel the need to speak to them if they threaten you with the police say "great, can't wait to chat with them" and it may scare them into not calling again.
Who You Can Contact if Scammed
- local police
- your bank
- Equifax and TransUnion (they run credit bureaus)
- Better Business Bureau (if it's a company, give it a negative review)
- BBB Scam Tracker
- Anti-Fraud Centre
10 Steps to Avoid Scams
(Points taken from BBB. Visit here for the full list.)