Warning: Internet Scams

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Scam artists have been around since the dawn of time, and seem to get better with each passing decade. Only difference between the 1700s and 2010s iss telecommunication technology gives these scammers a means to get to a larger population of people instantaneously.

I see these scams come up again and again: Tax scams, fakes internet contests, pictures of sick children on Facebook with the promise a share = money donated, and the list could go on. What else goes on is the people who fall for them again and again.

This is why, after a couple of weeks break from blogging, I come back with an article about internet scams. While some examples are Canadian-specific, they still apply to the wider reality of scams!

Common Example: Taxes!

nigeriacartoon2While I’m going to use a Canadian example, the same is true in the USA:  The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is often a name many scam artists use in order to screw people out of $1000s/year by pretending to be legitimate representatives of Canada’s income and sales’ taxes. Often the scam artists contact people by phone, or by email, claiming they owe the CRA money and will go to jail if they don’t pay. Often they convince people to give over their credit card information and/or get them to buy gift cards and prepaid credit cards they can use the numbers given in order to go on spending sprees.  Recently a family in B.C. got scammed out of $8000 before the store clerk told them they were getting scammed.

I will say what is repeated on the CRA’s website: THE CRA DOES NOT TELL PEOPLE THEY OWE MONEY BY PHONE OR EMAIL.

I will repeat this again: The CRA DOES NOT contact people by phone or email.
They always inform people by mail, or via the individual or business’ CRA account. If someone calls claiming to be from the CRA, and tells you that you owe them money HANG UP. Thankfully the scams sent via email are usually caught by spam filters.

Facebook Photos- Share = Donation?

These photos come up on occasion in my Facebook fee: A picture of a sick or injured child with a caption that if you share it, Facebook will donate  money to the family and/or hospital they is treating the sick child.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario, it makes me flabbergasted so many people share the photo before someone comes in and says it’s scam. This time, I’m going list the reasons why:

  1. FACEBOOK DOESN’T DONATE MONEY VIA SHARES!
  2. 99.99% chance these photos are being spread across the internet without the parents’ permission.
  3. Similar to #2: Good chance the child died long before the picture came out. By sharing, not only is a lie being spread but there child’s family is forced to relive the loss all over again.

If you  see one of these photos, just copy and paste the caption or put the image into a Google image search. The first few results will give away the scam.

Internet Contests: How many offers do you have to pay for?

These contests appear everywhere social media reaches. Often they promise people new tech gadgets, trips, cars, etc. Looks so awesome to fill in a form to potentially win an iPad, right?

Not so fast! Some of these contests are legit. Others demand you complete  3 offers, fill in your banking information, and watch 200 ads. And even upon completing everything, all you’ve won is a maxed out credit card. 😦

Real contests don’t ask for banking or credit card information, nor do they demand you pay to win. The moment you see that run for the hills!

Conclusion: General Tips

There are so many other examples, it’s not even funny! Scam artists are good, and learning how to get better. Thankfully they still have the same patterns! Here are some general tips:

  1. Google is your friend!
  2. Don’t five the aggressive callers/emails the time of day!
  3. Chain emails about raising money the more you forward them? Copy and paste the subject into Google.
  4. Calls from “collections agencies” claiming you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay? Debtors prison doesn’t exist, and threatening people with it is breaking several laws. Don’t let them intimidate you.
  5. The chances of someone giving away an expensive piece of technology completely free is minute. Remember to look up who’s doing the contest, and Google the contest itself! Never be afraid to question.

I know it’s a lot, but it beats you losing your identity and credit rating to these crooks.

Curious for my readers: Have stories of “tax collectors” giving you unwanted calls?

 

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