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Financial scams are everywhere- in your emails, your texts, on social media, through phone calls and still arrive in traditional letters in our mailboxes.

 

It's important to protect your information and access to your finances.

 

The discussion below, moderated by Steadyhand, focuses on seniors.  Seniors are a large target group of scammers, but we are all vulnerable.  Over the summer, I helped a teenager unravel a bank account hack.  The bank's response wasn't great- the target received conflicting instructions, was told he had never had accounts at that bank after explaining the situation (although they had ID with them at the time, they weren't asked to provide it; the customer service rep assumed they were attempting a scam).  The bank agreed in late August that the account had been hacked, and replaced the stolen amount.  However, the bank account owner still can't set up etransfers and a few other functions in the new bank account.  Why?  The bank can't provide a good explanation and won't help further at this time.

 

The effects of scams are far-reaching and can destroy financial stability.  

 

Steps to consider:

  1. When you receive any unexpected communication, don't respond immediately.  Give yourself time to review the sender's request.
  2. Get out of a high-pressure conversation.  This is important.  It is also extremely difficult to do.  Practice- write down what you will do if you receive a phone call demanding immediate action on your part.  This includes phone calls pretending to be from family members who are 'in trouble'; phone calls pretending to be from Revenue Canada (CRA). Do not stay on the phone- hang up and call the family member or CRA directly.  Big note: CRA sends a letter if there are questions or concerns or tax money owing.  The initial communication from CRA is NOT by phone.
  3. Do not give out banking or personal information through email or text.  A legitimate organiziation will not ask for this information.
  4. Assume that you are vulnerable to scams.  One of the reasons that scams work is our assumption that we will be able to spot the scam.  Consider approaching every unexpected notification with two thoughts:  "I'm not smarter than the average bear" and "scammers do this as a full time job, it's profitable and they are extremely motivated to get at my money".  
  5. Slow down (again).  Review what you wrote out in step 2.  If this is a legitimate request and you ignore it, the organization is likely to contact you again.  I get a lot of emails claiming to have phone messages attached for 'my organization'.  Some look quite legitimate.  I've never clicked on any link; I assume that if there is a real person attached to that message, they will call me back.

 

 

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