According to the Better Business Bureau of Canada (BBB), Canadians were scammed to the tune of $91 million dollars in 2016, up by $30 million over the previous year. The worst part is that it is believed to only be about five percent of what actually is lost to scams due to a lack of reporting. That’s staggering.
These scams can range from employment scams to fake endorsements and it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to protecting yourself and your financial information from those that are interested in separating you from your hard-earned dollars.
The most reported scam to the BBB is the employment scam. There are many different types of employment scams but here are the most popular ones that you should be on the lookout for:
The Mystery Shopper Scam is when scammers use free online classifieds to recruit potential victims. They will likely send a letter with shopping tasks to be completed by you as an “employee” and give you a cheque. They ask you to deposit the cheque and keep a portion of the payment. The remaining funds are to be send via wire transfer like Western Union or MoneyGram to ‘test the company’s procedure or customer service skills.’ Eventually, the cheque is returned as counterfeit and you, as the “employee” are accountable to pay for the funds that were wired. It’s really nothing more than a cheque cashing scheme.
Variations of this could include getting a text message saying that you were selected as a mystery shopper, and will again receive a cheque in the mail to attend stores, complete transactions, send funds via money service and “rate” the services. When the cheques come back counterfeit, you are responsible for those funds and must reimburse the banks. Payments range from $900 to $1,500.
How to Protect Yourself:
- Be mindful of where you post your resumé. Scammers will use legitimate websites to find victims.
- A legitimate employer is never going to send funds and ask for a portion of it back.
- Do a simple Google search and it can save you thousands of dollars.
- Beware of unsolicited emails or texts offering employment and…
- If it’s too good to be true, it is.
Here’s the scenario: the CEO of the mid-to-large company you work for sends you an urgent request to help him or her out. They’re in a meeting and need some iTunes cards purchased for a client. They ask you to quickly go and get them and send them out on their behalf or send the numbers on the back of the cards for quick redemption. QUICK! DO IT! First of all, don’t do it. Don’t respond to that email address, which if you look closely, is not your boss’ actual email and seems to be coming from a different address than you’re used to. Forward that email to the email address for your CEO that you know in order to verify the email. He or she will be happy to see that you didn’t send a boatload of cash to someone else pretending to be your CEO.
How to Protect Yourself:
- Speak directly to, or call your CEO to clarify that he or she doesn’t want you to do something.
- iTunes or other gift cards to be sent somewhere should raise a red flag.
- Delete the email, then delete it from your deleted folder.
- Never click on links within suspicious emails.
If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. Don’t let high pressure or a ‘crisis’ force your hand to do something without thinking it through. That’s how they scam regular people, just like you.