Avoid scammers by following a few simple guidelines
Beware threats at the door, on the telephone and online
“Online scams are prevalent,” said retired crime prevention officer Bob Paterson. “The three most common threats to people by scammers are the threat at your door, on the telephone and the threat online—with online threats increasing weekly.”
Phishing is a new word to many of us, but it’s one we all need to know. Phishing is the process criminals use to fraudulently obtain sensitive information, personal details or money. This is done in the form of emails which look convincingly like ones we may receive from our bank or credit card company.
In the past, recognizing phishing was easy because there were usually spelling errors and graphics were small. Today’s online criminal is much more sophisticated. The logos are the same ones that your actual bank may use and they have cleaned up their spelling errors. These emails look real.
“Your bank, insurance company, financial advisor or anyone you do business with will never email or phone you asking for any personal information such as date of birth, social insurance number, address or passwords,” said Paterson.
Safety in the home
A person comes to your door, clipboard in hand, name tag on their shirt and a big smile on their face. They look so official and friendly you may let your guard down and relax. While at the door the thief or scammer picks up on visible signs in your home while scanning the room. They try to bond with you using subtle tactics. Breaking into your home is not always their intent.
“Don’t talk,” said Paterson. “In other words, don’t continue the conversation beyond saying you aren’t interested because you can’t win. They are good at what they do and know how to manipulate you into telling them things that further helps them scam you.”
“For example,” said Paterson, “there may be a picture of your grandson on the desk by the door. They may now attempt to bond with you using hockey as a common denominator. They may use the fishing awards sitting on your mantel to create a connection with you.”
Don’t let them in the house. If there is work or service you need in your house, get out the yellow pages and find a reputable company and don’t hire someone who comes to your door.
Threats on the phone are the same as possible threats at your door. “Don’t engage in a conversation, because you will lose control of the situation very quickly,” said Paterson. “They are very good at using any information against you.”
In fact, if you try to give them a reason why you won’t hire them, you have probably just given them enough information for them to use to their advantage.
Are threats to our safety real or just perceived?
“Trust your instincts,” said Paterson. “There are real threats, but there is also a tendency for some people to perceive threats that aren’t there.”
In most cases you are very safe but he recommends being aware of your surroundings and judging your security accordingly.
Many crimes are not reported due to embarrassment or because the person does not realize the seriousness of the crime such as identity theft, which may take months to be known.
Take charge of your own security
You have every right to question the person on the other end of the phone or at your door as to who they are and who they represent. There is absolutely no need to be polite except to say you are not interested and then hang up or close the door. That’s it. It’s your home, your door, your phone, your computer—so take charge of the situation.