Fil-Canadians get tips to avoid scam, fraud

By Veronica Silva, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Mar 12 2014 01:54 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2014 09:54 PM

CANADA - Community partners in Toronto recently kicked off Fraud Prevention Month this March, with a warning to the general public that anybody can be a victim of scams and fraud.

The Toronto Police Service's Financial Crimes Unit and community partners were one in educating the public about telltale signs to avoid becoming a victim.

As new types of fraud have emerged because of technology, advocates of fraud prevention urged consumers to be vigilant.

The Crime Prevention Association of Toronto gave tips on protecting oneself from scammers, particularly for newcomers to Canada.

"Most of the time, like in banking, you have to be very careful of giving away your personal information because your PIN number, your card, is your security. We have close-knit communities but we don't do the door-to-door stuff anymore. So, someone might come to you saying they're from a charity or they want money or need money, and very often it's not the truth," said Janet Sherbanowski, executive director of the Crime Prevention Association of Toronto.

Community services officer Clarita Mendigoria advised the public not to be too trusting.

" You have to be very careful. You have to protect yourself by all means," she said.

For investors, industry experts warn against guarantees that sound too good to be true.

"If you're being told it's absolutely guaranteed to succeed, in the investment industry, it's something that is not coming. You have to be aware of that; be cautious of that. The other aspect is high-pressure sales tactics. If you're being told to decide now, this deal is going to be over tomorrow, that's actually a huge red flag," said Ian Strulovitch, director of Public Affairs of the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada.

Allister Field, Enforcement Manager of the Ontario Securities Commission added, "Any opportunity that requires you to recruit family and friends is something that you need to be worried of. Many fraudulent schemes require many investors to keep the scam going. So, if there's any emphasis on bringing people into the opportunity, that's a red flag as well."

In the unfortunate instance that you smell something suspicious or have become a victim, law enforcers urge the public to report them without fear.

"If an incident has taken place, you can call the Canada Anti-fraud Centre and they will log that so that if anybody else has that same occurrence, that will then be a multiple occurrence and a police force will be dispatched to investigate that," said Sgt. Vance Morgan of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.