| Nov 06, 2008

Nov 6/08 - ABCs of Fraud Prevention

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Feature Article - November 6, 2008 ABC's of fraudBy Julie Druker

Jack Fox and Denny Buchanan

On Oct 28, members and guests of the Harrowsmith Women’s Institute (HWI) hosted an information seminar on fraud awareness, a program sponsored by Scotiabank called the “ABCs of Fraud“.

The seminar was presented by Jack Fox and Denny Buchanan of the Rotary Club of Kingston, who volunteer their time to present the program to community groups.

Fox and Buchanan said that the elderly are prime targets for con artists for a number of reasons. They are often alone at home, can tend to feel lonely and often are too polite to say no.

The presenters reviewed simple steps that can be taken to avoid identity theft: leave birth certificates, passports and SIN cards at home; never provide personal information over the phone or internet unless the call is initiated by yourself; regularly reconcile bank and credit card statements with purchases and cheques; review your personal credit report from Equifax or TransUnion at least once a year; and never discard documents containing personal information without shredding them first.

The second part of the presentation focused on identifying frauds and scams. Certain “Red Flags” include: offers that sound to good to be true, like doubling your money in 6 months; being asked to send money to receive a prize; being pressured into making an immediate decision.

Con artists also tend to convince their intended victims to keep their offer “a secret”, and often make immediate efforts to become a close friend. Typical con artists will present their scam as a “lucky opportunity” since they “just happen to be in the neighborhood“.

One video portrayed a lone widow solicited at her front door by a roofer who “happened to be in the neighborhood and noticed that her roof could use some work”. He proceeded to squeeze himself through her front door and upstairs into her home to “look around”.

The woman in the end came to her senses, locked her door when he left and when he returned demanded from him a business card, references from his past employers and stated that she would be looking into the Better Business Bureau. He quickly fled.

A second video portrayed a son trying to convince his very healthy father to grant him power of attorney since the son felt he should be trusted to make the right financial decisions for his father. The father was polite but firmly let his son know that he was very capable of making his own decisions for himself.

“Kingston’s Top Ten Common Frauds”, were covered and these included: internet solicitors asking for bank information for various reasons; the skimming of debit and/or credit cards at ATM machines and various restaurants and stores. The bottom line: keep your cards with you and be present when card transactions are being made.

Anyone who feels suspicious of fraudulent offers or perpetrators is encouraged to call the police at Kingston Fraud section at 613-549-4660 or the OPP at 1-888-310-1122

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