Be on the look out for fraud

Phone calls often a way for fraudsters to find victims

When an offer is too good to be true, it’s probably not true.

When Astrid Koenig received an unsolicited call offering to significantly reduce the interest on her credit card, an alert Koenig patiently sat through and listened.

Then, at an appropriate pause in the sales pitch, Koenig asked them for their information and a call-back number. They hung up.

Koenig then entered *69 on her phone, a feature that allows a caller to hear the number of the last call that dialled their phone.

The number that came up was 604-298-3708. Koenig googled the number. And sure enough, a number of pages came up, warning readers of a scam.

Being proactive, Koenig phoned both her bank (to ensure that they weren’t randomly contacting people and making this offer) and the RCMP. She also phoned the Sooke News Mirror.

“People are at risk of losing a lot of money,” she said in conversation. Koenig used to work at a family resource centre in Calgary, and she knows banks don’t make these unsolicited offers by phone.

If you really want reduced interest rates on your credit card, Koenig suggests you “call your bank directly.” That was advice she used to dole out at the centre, and she often heard back from surprised clients that, if they made a payment proposal, a reduced rate was often made available.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada offers up the following advice to help consumers protect themselves from fraud: 1. If you suspect someone is trying to get your personal information, ask for the person’s name, name of the organization and A phone number where he or she can be reached.

2. Look up the organization’s telephone number or website yourself. Look at the back of your credit card statements or other legitimate documents to see if the telephone number or website address matches the one you were given.

3. Call the company by using the phone number you have looked up yourself to verify the person that has contacted you is indeed a member of the company’s staff.

4. Contact the Better Business Bureau and ask questions about the company.

If you have been a victim of fraud and suspect your finances are at risk:

1. Contact your local police and file a police report.

2. Contact the financial institutions, credit card companies, phone companies, and other lenders for any accounts you suspect may have been opened or tampered with.

3. Contact the two credit bureaus in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion and ask that a “Fraud Alert” be placed in your credit file. At the same time, order copies of your credit report and review them. Make sure all the accounts and debts that show up on your report are yours. Report any incorrect information to the credit bureaus.

4. Contact the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC) toll free at 1-888-495-8501 to report the fraud and get advice. The CAFC plays a crucial role in educating the public about specific mass marketing fraud pitches and in collecting and disseminating victim evidence, statistics and documentation.