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Twelve Red Flags of Frauds

A “red flag” can serve as a warning that something isn’t right and can help alert you to frauds and scams. Watch for the following red flags in your dealings with strangers:

  1. Credit card security number request - Someone asks for the three-digit security number on the back of your credit card. Legitimate businesses may require that number to verify your identity; however, you should only provide it if you have initiated the transaction.
  2. Pressure - The deal is a limited opportunity or you feel pressure to make a purchase decision. Legitimate businesses will give you a chance to check them out or to think about the deal.
  3. Sounds too good - The deal sounds too good to be true. It probably is too good to be true.
  4. Pay-to-claim - You must pay money in order to claim a prize. A prize is free; you should not have to pay anything for it. Free is free!
  5. Private information request - Someone asks for your private financial information such as your banking information or credit card number. Banks do not request this information over the phone or by email and honest businesses do not require these details unless you initiate the business deal, for example, during an online purchase.
  6. Undue excitement - The caller or sales person is more excited than you are. They want to build up your excitement about the opportunity so that you will not be able to think clearly.
  7. Unusual payment method - Someone requests that you pay by cash, money order, iTunes gift card or Western Union rather than by cheque or credit card. Con artists have difficulty establishing themselves as merchants with legitimate credit card companies so often ask for these types of payments. Cash payments are also untraceable and cannot be cancelled.
  8. Undue friendliness - A stranger wants to become your best friend. They are trying to determine if you are lonely because we do not normally suspect our friends of being con artists.
  9. Personal questions - Someone pretending to be a “person of authority” (e.g. a lawyer) or a professional (e.g. a cleaning service) calls and asks you personal or lifestyle questions. They are trying to deceive you into giving out personal information about yourself so they can steal your identity or your money.
  10. Monetary requests - Someone tries to get you to send them large sums of money (e.g. the grandparent fraud). Never send large sums of money to someone you do not know or to someone whose identity you have not verified.
  11. Deficient equipment claim - Someone pretending to be from one of the crown utilities (e.g. SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskTel) contacts you, alleging that your equipment is deficient and you need to quickly buy and install theirs, i.e. furnaces, air conditioners, HVAC system, alarm system. This could be by phone or in person.
  12. Scare tactics about programs being abolished - You get a letter in the mail and it looks like it’s coming from a non-profit advocacy group claiming that the government is attempting to abolish ‘something’ (old age pension, medical coverage, some kind of government program). The group needs your donation of $16.45 to get “an additional 36 referendums from citizens who feel the same way as you and me.” Once they have your credit card number, it can lead to ID theft and other cons.

Learn more about Fraud Prevention and Safety for Individuals in this valuable handbook

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