Thursday, March 29, 2012

Money is Lost and Reputations Are Harmed by Charity Fraud

Donors and Charities Can Protect One Another

ORILLIA, Ontario, March 29, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Opening your heart and your wallet to someone representing an unfamiliar charity or special interest can be hazardous to your wealth, according to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

As Fraud Prevention Month nears an end, some charitable fund-raising campaigns are getting into high gear. Warning signs of charity fraud include: high pressure or threatening telemarketers who want you to contribute immediately; a caller thanks you for a pledge you don't remember making; or, the charities have 'copycat names' which are designed to mislead or deceive their targets.

"By nature, Canadians are very generous. However, criminals will ruthlessly use whatever means necessary to prey upon your good intentions for their own selfish purposes." - Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, OPP Investigations/Organized Crime Command.

In 2011, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 418 Canadian complaints of charity fraud. Of those, 48 people were victimized to the tune of more than $88-thousand. Police believe only five (5) per cent of victims actually report the crime.

Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch suggest would-be donors consider the following tips on a year-round basis:

...Never give out your personal or financial information over the phone, or at the door. You may wish to make out a cheque payable to the charity. You can mail the cheque later.

...Call the charity. Find out if they know about the appeal and if it is authorized, and what percentage of your donation they will receive. You should never feel pressured into making a donation.

...If you receive a telephone call, ask for the information to be sent to you in writing. Ask how much of your gift will be used directly for the charity. Ask how much will go toward administrative costs. Legitimate charities will have no problem giving you this information.

...Ask if the charity is registered. Contact Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the charitable tax number of the charity. Question any discrepancies.

...At the beginning of each year, decide which charities to support - send your cheques directly to their head office, and feel good about giving. If approached more directly, you can then say that you have already given, and perhaps you will consider their appeal next year when you decide on the charities to support.

"Committing your hard-earned money to charity should be as safe and secure as you intend it to be. Your best defence against charity scams is knowing as much about the charitable organization as possible before you decide to donate." - Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch.

Responsible charities can do their part to ensure their representatives carry appropriate identification and have information would-be donors may need for each aspect of their operation, such as about how donations are used.

If you suspect you or someone you know have been approached by a fraudulent representative of a charity, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.


OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month

Glossary of Pitch Types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Charity/Donation: Any false, deceptive or misleading solicitation for a donation to a charity, association, federation, or religious cause.

Extortion: Any person who unlawfully obtains money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

OPP: Lower interest rates may equal more fraud victims

Don't trust offers that are too good to be true!

ORILLIA, Ontario, March 22, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are warning consumers not to blindly trust phone calls that claim to be able to negotiate significantly lower interest rates on your credit cards or loans.

Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch say this type of "service scam" is becoming more prominent during the tough economic times being experienced by many Canadians. Consumers who get these interest rate reduction offers - sometimes through automatically-dialled "robo-calls" - should listen to them with extreme scepticism because many are scams. What the callers really want is the processing fee, which is usually paid by credit card. Some even follow-up with a fraudulent client acknowledgement or cancellation clause that reimburse the amount EXCLUDING a "retainer fee."

"Criminal telemarketers are relentless and will say anything to come between a vulnerable, unaware person and their money, regardless of the circumstances. Education, awareness and good, old-fashioned common sense are your best defence against becoming a victim." - Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

In 2011, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 982 Canadian complaints of criminals who offered lower interest rates either online or over the phone in return for some type of fee. Of those, 173 people were identified as victims who reported a loss of more than $133 thousand. Again, there are likely many more victims but they are reluctant to report the crime.

It's important to note, companies behind these calls can't do anything for you that you can't do for yourself - for free. Indeed, investigators found that people who pay for these services don't get the touted interest rate reductions, don't save the promised amounts, don't pay off their credit card debt three to five times faster, and struggle to get refunds.

If you're looking to reduce interest rates is to call your financial institution or the customer service phone number on the back of your credit card and negotiate. And, if you are tempted by the promises made in a rate reduction 'robo-call', hold off - and hang up.

"You have just as much clout with your credit card issuer as these companies say they do. All the criminals want is easy access to small amounts of money…a pattern they repeat thousands of times a week across the country. Save yourself and your money…simply hang up the phone!" - Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch

If you suspect you or someone you know has experienced an interest rate reduction scam or has been the victim of a service scam, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.

OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month

Glossary of Pitch Types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Service Scam:
Any false, deceptive, or misleading promotion of services or solicitation for services. These scams typically involve third parties that make offers for telecommunications, internet, financial, medical and energy services. This category of scams may also include, but is not limited to, offers such as extended warranties, insurance and sales services.

Unauthorized Charge:
Any consumer's bank account or credit card that is charged for a service or merchandise (which may or may not have been performed and/or received) that was not authorized by the account holder. It may also occur when a consumer provides credit card or banking information to a company offering a free trial for a product. The company does not disclose the billing terms and/or conditions or does not have such details prominently displayed on their website which can result in repeated billing.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Emergency Scam Continues to Create Victims of Crime: OPP

Fraud Scheme often preys upon Vulnerable, Compassionate Seniors

ORILLIA, Ontario, March 15, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say the telephone and e-mail continue to be great tools for con artists to take seniors and vulnerable citizens for hundreds or even thousands of dollars at a time.

Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch say the "Emergency Scam" has been around for many years but it continues to wreak havoc in communities across Ontario. The fact that seniors are often too nice for their own good and are hesitant to say 'no' to someone on the phone make them easy targets for criminals.

In the usual "emergency" scenario, an elderly person receives a phone call or e-mail from a con-artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren, a friend of the family, or a former neighbour. The caller or e-mailer goes on to indicate that they are in some kind of trouble and 'need money immediately.' Typically, they claim to have been in a car accident, or are having trouble returning from a foreign country, or they need money for bail. The fraudster specifically asks that they do not want other relatives to 'know what has happened', saying something similar to "Don't tell Dad. He would be very upset with me if he found out. Please send the money ASAP. I'm scared." Typically, the victims don't verify the story until after the money has been sent through a wire transfer service or by giving access to personal banking or credit card information.

"Preying on the emotions of family members or friends by creating a falsely urgent or desperate situation contributes to an already long history of crime, because it has been successful. Increasing awareness of fraud is the first step toward decreasing its devastating impact." - Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

In 2011, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre - located in North Bay, Ontario - received 3,309 complaints of criminals using the " Emergency Scam" -- sometimes referred to as the " Grandparent Scam" -- in Canada. Of those, 462 people were identified as victims who reported a loss of more than $2.5 million. Compounding the problem, many more victims are reluctant to report the crime, either out of embarrassment or not knowing how.

To guard against becoming a victim, police advise you to first check with another family member or trusted friend to verify the information BEFORE providing money or credit card information. It is vitally important that the incident be reported every time it occurs, to allow police to investigate and charge the perpetrators.

"If you are suspicious about the caller or the circumstances of the request being made for your money, protect yourself…hang up the phone! And then report the crime!" - Acting Inspector Scott JAMES, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch

If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of an 'emergency' money transfer, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.


OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre - The Emergency or Grandparent Scam

Glossary of Pitch Types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Emergency: Any phone call or e-mail from someone claiming to be a friend or family member stating to be in some kind of trouble, usually being arrested, involved in a car accident or trapped in a foreign country and need money immediately for bail, medical fees, or a ticket home. This is sometimes referred to as the Grandparent Scam.

Extortion: Any person who unlawfully obtains money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From electronic to paper: Fraud can happen anywhere

Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

OTTAWA, March 14, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - March is Fraud Prevention Month and Canada Post wants to remind customers that fraud, identity theft and other types of scams can happen anywhere - in your mailbox or recycle bin, via email, on the telephone, and more. Fraud-related offences are now thought to be as profitable as drug-related offences, estimated at between $10 and $30 billion annually in Canada by the RCMP's Commercial Crime Branch.

One of the fastest growing crimes in Canada is identity theft. It occurs when someone steals your name and other personal information with the intention of assuming your identity to gain access to your finances, make purchases and incur debts in your name, or commit other crimes.

Here are some tips to help protect your identity and your mail - digital or physical:

...Pick-up physical mail as soon as possible after delivery. Never leave it overnight in the mailbox.

...Do not discard mail with your personal information on it in the recycling box. Shred sensitive documents. If paperless, ensure you regularly empty your delete box.

...If you are planning a holiday, arrange for someone to pick up your mail or use Canada Post's Hold Mail service to ensure your mail is held safely while you're away.

...If you like to keep a copy of your electronic bills, sign up with epost and keep all your bills in one secure location with one username and password. Your bills can be stored for up to seven years. As well, epost users can store important personal information such as passwords, bank account information, medical history via the Vault service.

...Change your PIN information on your chip-enable credit cards regularly. Canada Post's PIN card services allow you to change the personal identification number (PIN) of chip credit cards from participating card issuers at more than 6,000 postal counters - for free.

...Beware if someone you are not expecting asks you for personal information. Identity thieves deploy various elaborate strategies to obtain this type of data.

...Remember, if you receive an offer that sounds too good to be true - it probably is!

...Report any suspicious activity to police.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chip technology helping in the fight against Interac® debit card fraud

Interac debit card fraud skimming losses down 41 per cent year-over-year

TORONTO, March 6, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, Interac Association announced that Interac debit card fraud losses to financial institutions resulting from skimming declined to $70 million in 2011 from $119 million in 2010 and a high of $142 million in 2009. The number of cardholders reimbursed fell to 154,170 from 205,200 in 2010 and 238,000 in 2009. This represents 0.0229 per cent of domestic debit card volume and the lowest volume of fraud losses since data were recorded in 2003. Cardholders are protected from losses under the Interac Zero Liability Policy*.

"Our collective efforts and significant investments in the fight against debit card fraud, particularly the transition to chip technology, are producing tangible benefits," said Caroline Hubberstey, Head of External Affairs, Interac Association. "The transition to chip technology is all about making a safe system even more secure and that is what's happening. While significant progress is being made, the fight continues and no one is resting on their laurels."

Chip technology is both secure and smart. It gives the card the ability to store and process data securely. Unlike a magnetic stripe, this processing power makes it extremely difficult to copy and reproduce. This processing power is used, together with cryptography to allow the card and terminal to communicate with one another to carry out security checks to ensure the card is valid. Chip technology also enables advancements like Interac FlashTM, which is currently being rolled out.

Interac Flash, the contactless enhancement of Interac Debit, leverages EMV-based secure chip processing, instead of magnetic stripe data type processing. This protects Interac Flash enabled cards against skimming, counterfeiting, and transaction replay types of fraud, including electronic pick-pocketing where readers are used to capture information.

"Security is of paramount concern for us," emphasized Hubberstey. "By also choosing to leverage chip technology for Interac Flash enabled debit cards, we have taken strong steps to protect cardholders from tactics that criminals are using to capture data on contactless cards, such as electronic pick-pocketing."

Under Interac rules, card-not-present transactions and fallback to the magnetic stripe are not permitted. Further, given the structure of Interac Online, Internet shoppers can make secure online debit purchases directly from their bank accounts, without the need to provide any personal financial information, including card and account numbers, to online merchants. Stolen Interac debit cards and even PINs cannot be used to complete Internet transactions.

Interac chip debit cards and terminals are currently rolling out across Canada. By the end of this year (2012) all Automated Banking Machines (ABMs) and Interac debit cards will be converted to chip technology and by the end of 2015, all Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals. In many cases, conversion is ahead of schedule. As of the end of 2011, 90 per cent of Interac debit cards and 84 per cent of terminals (ABMs/POS terminals combined) had been converted.

In support of Fraud Prevention Month, Interac Association, a member of the Competition Bureau's Fraud Prevention Forum, has created an infographic that highlights the numbers above and also provides further insight to consumers around the security of Interac debit card transactions using chip technology. The organization will also host a Fraud Prevention Month Open House on their Facebook wall on Wednesday, March 14th at 7:00PM EST.

Follow Interac Association on Twitter at @INTERAC and on Facebook