Countless scams are promoted through e-mail, texting, websites and social networks. Spam e-mails in particular are very common. The best way to deal with these e-mails is to delete them. By responding – even to ask to be taken off a list – you alert the scammer that your e-mail address is valid. This will prompt them to send you more spam.
Many scams start with a phone call from someone you don’t know. They may claim to be representing a company you do business with, and ask to verify personal information like bank or credit card numbers. To combat phone fraud, don’t do business over the phone unless you’ve made the call yourself and you know the company and phone number are legitimate.
How scammers get your contact information: Scammers usually get contact information from lists. These lists are often the most valuable part of the scam – they’re traded and sold, and reused over and over. Once scammed, you’re more likely to be contacted again by the same or other scammers. To keep your name off these lists, avoid giving out your personal information – especially online.
Through a group you belong to
Scammers use their association with the group, and your common interests, to gain your trust – and then take your money. This is known as affinity fraud. They may also build relationships with leaders of the group to gain acceptance and endorsement.
Victims often don’t report affinity fraud for fear of embarrassment, or backlash from the group. They may try to resolve problems within the group, which can leave other groups vulnerable to the same scam.
At investment seminars
Some investment seminars promote specific investment strategies that promise high returns. You may not know that these products are risky and may not be appropriate for you. The investments themselves may not be fraudulent, but this type of promotion raises a number of red flags.
Presenters are usually good motivational speakers and may use high-pressure sales tactics. If you’re given time-limited offers or feel pressured to buy, walk away.
Check registration: Many scammers are not registered to sell investments. Check the seller's registration and get a second opinion from a qualified adviser, lawyer or accountant. Learn how registration protects you.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca