Don’t Let Scammers Take Advantage of You

One resident gave money online to what she thought was going to support the families of the Humboldt hockey bus accident. Another has received several phone calls from Revenue Canada demanding payment of taxes. What do these have in common? They are both scams.

While the initial fundraiser for the Humboldt accident was legitimate, other sites have popped up trying to continue to collect funds online. “Tragedies attract the vultures. After the Fort McMurray fire, some 137 fake charities were identified who took donations and disappeared,” said retired Calgary Police detective Brian Holmes.

And the Revenue Canada scam? Brian says Revenue Canada will never phone you about your taxes. They use the mail. Brian and retired businessman Gord Keegan volunteer their time to speak with older adults in Calgary about fraud. They made the first of about a dozen presentations at United’s Garrison Green community as part of United’s commitment to lifelong learning. Similar presentations will be conducted at the Fish Creek community. Check the monthly calendar for dates.

Brian told a large group of residents gathered at Garrison Green this week that fraud is the crime of the century. Brian and Gord are keen to educate older adults, their families and friends because fraud doesn’t discriminate based on age. Brian pointed out that fraud can come from strangers and family members. As well,  anyone can be a target and scams are continuously changing. With each type of fraud, Brian gave practical tips about how to detect whether a call or an email is a scam.

He outlined the most common scams that are directed at older adults.

  • Health care insurance fraud. A person will phone claiming to be from a health clinic and want health care card and other personal information. That information is then sold or used to double bill Alberta Health Services or Blue Cross.
  • Funeral scams. Someone will attend a funeral and demand payment of a debt supposedly owed by the deceased. The family, in a fragile state of mind, might go along with it.
  • Thieves will read obituaries and know that a home is unattended during a funeral service. Have a neighbour watch your home if you are away.
  • Internet fraud. Email and pop-up browser windows can upload viruses to your computer, giving scammers access to personal information. Don’t open emails from people you don’t trust and use good computer protection software to guard against viruses.
  • Revenue Canada phone calls. A person calls in an aggressive tone demanding payment of taxes or saying you have a refund coming. Either way they will want banking information. Revenue Canada doesn’t call. They send information by mail.
  • Telemarketing scams. More and more people are buying online. Be aware of what information you are providing, particularly banking or credit card information.
  • Pigeon Drop. This is an old scam whereby a person calls to say they have access to a large amount of cash, but need your upfront money to help get it. The Nigerian letter scam is similar, suggesting you will receive large amounts of money if you will only put up a few thousand to facilitate the transfer.
  • The Grandparent scam. A person will call saying they are a grandchild in trouble and ask for money for bail, travel expenses and other costs.

“If you do get calls or online donation requests, either hang up or do some research into the charity that may be asking for money. Call a family member to discuss before agreeing to anything,” said Brian. “Sometimes, especially online, it’s very hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, so spend time to check them out. It could save you a lot of financial pain.”

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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