New Brunswickers are being targeted by fraudulent Google ads that appear to promote the PayPal customer service line. The phone number in the ad directs callers to a scam artist who tries to gain access to their PayPal account.
How to recognize the PayPal Ad Scam:
The phone number on the Google ad does not match the phone number on the actual PayPal website. (Red flag: inconsistent contact methods.)
The customer service rep asks you to purchase a Google Play or iTunes gift card to “secure and link” the correct credit card to their PayPal account. (Red flag: unusual payment methods.)
You are rushed into making a decision or giving personal information (Red Flag: pressures you to act fast).
What to do if you see a PayPal Ad Scam:
Do not click on the ad or call the phone number advertised. Instead, find the number directly from the PayPal website for assistance.
If you receive a suspicious phone call or e-mail from someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – question it! Canadians lose millions of dollars each year through various CRA scams.
What are common CRA scams?
CRA scams come in many forms - over the phone, by e-mail, or by text message. In all cases, the caller or sender poses as an agent from the Canada Revenue Agency in an attempt to gather personal information, or intimidate a victim into providing financial payment.
Phone scammers posing as CRA agents will claim one of several possibilities:
that you owe money to the CRA and will be arrested if you do not pay immediately;
that a lawsuit has been filed against you by the CRA;
that a warrant of arrest has already been issued under your name;
that you will be deported if you do not pay the money demanded; or
other similar threats to get you
"The reason behind this call is to notify you that we have registered a criminal case against your name concerning a tax evasion and tax fraud in the federal court house... If we don't receive a call from your side, please be prepared to face the legal consequences."
E-Mail Scam / Text Message
An e-mail or text message is sent from someone pretending to be with the CRA, claiming:
that your tax calculation has been completed, and you will receive a tax refund by going through a link and submitting information;
that you or your company is being accused of participating in tax evasion schemes;
that several discrepancies have been found with your filed taxes which need to be revised;
that you’ve received an e-transfer from the CRA for what appears to be a tax refund; or
that an “investigation” has been started on your CRA claim.
An example of fraudulent text message:
How can I protect myself or my loved ones?
Hang up immediately if there’s anything suspicious or unprofessional about the call – the CRA will NEVER threaten you with immediate arrest, use abusive language or send police.
The CRA will NEVER request a payment by Interac e-transfer, online currency such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or pre-paid gift cards such as iTunes, Home Depot, etc.
The CRA’s accepted methods of payment are online banking, debit card, credit card or PayPal through a third-party service provider and pre-authorized debit.
Do not click on any link in an e-mail pretending to be from the CRA – the CRA will NEVER ask you to click on any link to get a refund or to collect personal or financial information.
The only time the CRA will send an e-mail that contains links is if a taxpayer calls the CRA to ask for a form or a link to specific information. A CRA agent will send the information to the taxpayer’s email during the telephone call – this is the ONLY exception to the above rule!
The CRA NEVER sends out text messages. Any text message from the CRA is a scam.
Young people are often the most at risk to this scam, particularly when filing their taxes for the first time. Make sure your family and friends are educated on what the CRA will and will not ask for during tax season.
How should I respond?
If you are not sure if a message is from the CRA, confirm your tax status with the CRA online through a CRA secure portals such as My Account or by calling 1-800-959-8281.
File a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or online www.antifraudcentre.ca, whether you paid money or not.
Report the scam to your local police if you paid money (this includes purchasing pre-paid credit cards, gift cards, or online currency such as Bitcoin).
If you sent money or shared financial information, report it to the financial institution used e.g. your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram.
If your social insurance number has also been stolen, contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.
We strongly suggest that you REPORT THE INCIDENT for the following reasons:If you’ve sent money or transferred money or goods to a scammer, the police and financial institutions need to be aware in order to properly investigate, recover stolen funds and/or goods (if possible) and work towards preventing further criminal activity Reporting scams helps fraud authorities to warn other people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Additional information can be found at:
Your kids are playing with a new doll they received for the holiday season. The instructions tell you to connect the toy to the Internet using an app… so you do. Your kids start playing with the doll, talking to it, playing house, maybe even talking about going on a trip. Suddenly, your smartphone lights up with advertisements for travel packages and services. What possibly could have happened?
By connecting the toy to the Internet, you may be giving your kids a fun interactive experience. You may also be unknowingly or involuntarily giving up some personal information. The toy may be listening in on your kids and picking up cues, which are then used to push targeted ads to your smartphone or tablet.
Whether it’s a talking doll, a stuffed animal or a robot, connected toys have a variety of capabilities as they are commonly equipped with microphones, speakers, cameras and location tracking technology. A connected toy could put the privacy and possibly even the security of your kids and family at risk, as they collect and use personal information that includes names, birthdates, address, conversation recordings, physical location, and more.
What information is collected, how it is used and how it is disposed of is not always disclosed properly on packaging or in advertising materials. It may be used by the toy manufacturer, or third parties, for advertising purposes. That could be considered deceptive marketing and would raise concerns for the Bureau.
Before you rush out to purchase one of these toys, the Competition Bureau and its law enforcement partners want you to be aware of some of the risks to your children and family:
Hidden marketing: certain toys need to be connected to the parent’s smartphone or tablet through an app. While these toys listen and interact with your kids, they may pick up on key words that will be used to push more targeted advertising to your device.
Undisclosed product placement: connected toys are sometimes pre-programmed to say certain phrases - some of which may promote a product, business or service.
Misleading terms and conditions: certain toys and related apps require that parents agree to terms and conditions that may be difficult to read, unclear or misleading. The terms and conditions might also not include all the information you need to know.
Inadequate security: with toys connected to the Internet, personal information about your kids and your family could be accessed by hackers and other cybercriminals if they are not properly secured. Here are some tips for those who may wish to purchase or use connected toys:
Research the toy for any known risks or issues.
Carefully read the terms and conditions associated with the use of the toy.
Research the toy manufacturer and buy from recognized, trusted brands.
Learn how the toy works.
Understand what information will be collected, used, stored and who has access to it.
Use only trusted and secured Internet networks.
Change the toy manufacturer’s default username and password. Use strong passwords.
Ensure the toy is kept up to date with security updates or patches.
Monitor your kids’ activities when they’re playing with the toy. Turn it off when it’s not in use and disconnect it for added security.
Learn how to delete your child’s personal information in case the toy gets lost or discarded.
Bank investigator scam uses common red flags of fraud
FCNB is warning New Brunswickers about a modern twist on an old scam known as the ‘bank investigator’ scam after being alerted that a Saint John resident recently lost money to this fraud.
Circulating since the 1950s, this telephone scam involves a scammer calling you pretending to be a representative of a financial institution working on a fraud case.The scammer says they need your help to stop this fraud, and they want to use your bank account in the sting operation.
In this particular case, the scammer called the victim in the early morning claiming a suspicious purchase of iTunes gift cards was made on the victim’s credit card. The scammer later said that the victim had been approved to participate in a sting operation to catch suspicious employees at local bank branches involved in the suspected scam.
When the victim questioned the legitimacy of the sting operation, the scammer provided specific information about the individual’s bank account to make it sound legitimate. The victim was also advised not to contact the bank because it would “tip them off” to the investigation.
The victim was instructed to go to a particular store to buy $1,400 of iTunes cards. The scammer implied that the store may be involved in the scam as well. Once he purchased the iTunes cards, the victim was instructed to provide the scammer with the codes on the back of the iTunes cards so they could be tracked.
The victim was then given the name of a security personnel to call at the local bank branch at a specific time to learn the results of the sting investigation. When the victim called the branch, he discovered the investigation was a hoax.
How to Spot the Common Red Flags in the Bank Investigator Scam:
You receive a telephone call early in the morning, often when you are still sleeping, from someone claiming to be a representative from a financial institution (Red Flag: Catches you off guard).
You are rushed into making a decision or giving personal information (Red Flag: Pressures you to act fast).
You are asked to make a purchase of iTunes gift cards or other company gift cards, pre-paid credit cards or cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin (Red Flag: Pay with unusual methods).
You are asked to keep the information the scammer is providing secret (Red Flag: Ask you to keep it a secret because you might be warned it’s a scam!).
How to protect yourself from this scam:
Be alert when dealing with your financial matters.
Never provide personal or banking information to someone you do not know on the phone, in a text or in an email. Call your bank with a number from your records, or the phone book to confirm if this is in fact legitimate.
Always question urgent requests for money.
Do not forward or transfer money to people you do not know.
Never make a payment to a financial institution using iTunes gift cards. A financial institution or legitimate organization will never ask you to pay using these gift cards.
Don’t transfer money or codes to anyone that you do not know.
Do not assume the phone numbers appearing on call display are accurate. Criminals use “Call Spoofing” technology to mislead victims.
Where to report the Bank Investigator Scam:
If you think you have been a victim of this scam, contact your financial institution immediately, your local police or RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Bargain hunting season could turn into a wild goose chase
The biggest online shopping events of the year are coming up. Nearly half of Canadians are expected to be joining the online hunt for bargains this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you’re one of them, before going wild take a minute to learn about an advertising trend that’s on the Competition Bureau’s radar: cancelled discounts.
This is how it works: when shopping on a popular retailer’s website, you find a super deal on a video game, computer, fashion accessory, clothing or houseware. You place the item in your basket, check out and pay. You then receive an email purchase confirmation. Everything seems normal.
Later on, you receive an email from the retailer’s customer service. They say there was an error and they can’t honour the advertised price. They cancel your order. Surprisingly, when you go back to the website, the exact same product is still being offered but at a higher price.
Under certain circumstances, failing to provide the product at the advertised bargain price could be seen as an illegal bait and switch. That’s why it’s important that you know what to look out for, what your rights are and where to complain.
Be sure to:
Always keep email purchase confirmations and credit card statements.
Get a complete refund if the order can’t be fulfilled at the right price.
Confirm that the money is back into your account.
Keep any email exchanges with the retailer’s customer service, especially a confirmation that they’ll give a full refund.
Double-check the website if they claim the item is unavailable at the price offered. If the ad is still up, take a screen shot, ask questions and request that it be corrected so fellow bargain hunters don’t fall into the same trap.
Keep records and file a complaint with the Competition Bureau if the retailer claims the item is unavailable at the price you paid but it’s available at a higher price.
Know that depending on provincial or territorial consumer protection law, the retailer may have to honour the advertised price. Contact your local consumer protection agency to learn more.
Here are some extra precautions you can take when shopping online:
Use a credit card; many offer protection and may give you a refund.
Regularly check your credit card statements for frequent or unknown charges.
Don’t hesitate to contact the retailer’s customer service if you have questions, especially if your money is gone and there’s no product in sight. You might only have a small window of time to flag the problem and alert your credit card provider.
If you believe you have been misled, contact the Competition Bureau and file a complaint by phone at 1-800-348-5358 or online.