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Beware of scams as we head into the holiday season

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's Jeff Horncastle said roughly 95 per cent of people who fall victim to a scam do not report it
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As you start to put together your Christmas gift list, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says if you see a deal that's too good to be true, it probably is.

"Fraudsters may place advertisements on popular classified sites or social networks, they make create website that share the look and feel of legitimate manufacturers," cautions the centre's Jeff Horncastle. "Fraudsters will generate traffic to their products by advertising at deeper discounts."

He recommends double checking the URL and seller contact information before making a purchase.

"We always advise to use a payment mechanism that has fraud insurance on it, so if you are shopping online, you have something to fall back on, and you have the possibility to dispute any kind of fraudulent charges."

And if you're trying to make a little money now in hopes of helping pay for your Christmas purchases, beware of investment scams.

"The main ones we're now seeing are crypto investment scams where a lot of victims are approached on social media or they're going to a fraudulent website and investing in a fraudulent company," Horncastle explained.

He says do your research first and check to see if the company you're investing with is registered.

Phishing scams are big, so question suspicious incoming emails and text messages.

"They're looking to capture your personal information and use it for identity fraud. Identity theft usually leads to identity fraud," he told CityNews Halifax.

And despite all the online scams out there, the phone remains the top tool for fraudsters to reach their victims.

"Most of us are familiar with the extortion call, claiming to be a government agency and if you don't dial 1, you can be arrested," Horncastle said.

"The big one right now is that they're claiming to be the Canada Border Services Agency and they've intercepted a parcel with your name on it. [They say] if you don't dial 1 right now, you can be arrested."

Horncastle said roughly 95 per cent of people who fall victim to a scam do not report it, possibly because they don't know how or they are too embarrassed.

"But it's so important that people report ... to advise investigators that this is going on. The more information we have, the  more investigators have to work with," he stated.

You can report scams and get advice on how to avoid them on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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