FOCUS ON SENIORS: Staying a step ahead of salesmen, cheats and liars

News Sep 14, 2016 by Sean Allen Brant News

It’s easy to give people your money.

It’s a lot harder to get it back.

That sentiment is how senior public education and outreach advisor with Consumer Protection Ontario Erin Webb opens most of her presentations to the public.

On Wednesday, Webb was in Brantford at the behest of the Grand River Council on Aging and the Safe Brantford initiative for a workshop on consumer protection.

From door-to-door salespeople to remote online romance scams, Webb has the inside track on the many different ways fraudsters are working to part seniors – and other vulnerable portions of the population – from their hard-earned money.

She said the fastest growing areas of scamming is identity theft – but she also said it’s one of the easiest to start taking personal steps to combat.

The three most useful pieces of information for a potential scammer are your birthday, name and social insurance number (SIN).

“But the key thing to remember here is that, with few exceptions, there are only two people who need your SIN: the government and your employer,” Webb said. “Other companies might ask for it, such as cellphone providers or credit card companies, but it’s optional.”

She said in some cases the bank would need your SIN for bonds or registered savings plans, but beyond that, no one should get your SIN.

“I keep mine written down in one place,” Webb said, pointing to her head. “I keep the actual card buried in the back of my closet. You don’t need to give it to people.”

With your SIN, name and birthday in hand, however, scammers can open credit card accounts or specialty store cards, spend all the available money and walk away.

But even without your SIN, there are ways for scammers to use your personal information to open credit accounts in your name.

Webb said to protect your trash, wallet, car and mailbox to make it more difficult for scammers.

“Never throw anything with your personal information in the trash,” she said. “People will go down the street, pick up bags of garbage and, even if your document is shredded, they’ll take it home and put it back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

“These people have a lot of time and not a lot of dignity.”

Webb said she recommends what’s known as a confetti shredder, which shreds documents into small circles like the discharge from a three-hole punch. But failing that, she said you can use a regular line shredder and then soak the paper in water to make a paper mache ball.

“I save up my shredded documents, take them to the cottage and burn them,” she said. “Whatever works for you and makes it impossible to steal.”

As for your wallet, she said to carry around as few pieces of ID and credit cards as possible. She said not to leave any bills or documents in your car.

“Also, get a locked mailbox if it’s at your home,” she said. “People will watch a street one day for the timing of the mail delivery, come back the next day and take it before you know it’s been delivered.”

Phishing, vishing (or voice phising) and skimming are also strategies for fraudsters to get personal information.

Phishing is done online through emails or websites that seek to recreate the look of a legitimate website such as a bank to fool people into entering personal information and passwords. Webb said if prompted by a company to take action online, to never follow a link from an email. Instead, she said to leave the email and navigate to a company’s website directly from your browser.

Vishing is a similar tactic only done over the phone.

“A popular scam right now is someone calling you claiming to be from the (Canada Revenue Agency) and needing you to pay or they’ll send the police,” Webb said. “But the government will never threaten to send the police after you and never ask you to pay them in iTunes gift cards.”

To watch for skimming, which is done when scammers install equipment to steal your debit card information and PIN, Webb said to never use a debit terminal or ATM if it doesn’t look or feel right.

Romance scams online are another rising concern for Consumer Protection Ontario. Webb said that $15 million was reported lost by Canadians to some version of the romance scam online in 2015.

“And that’s nowhere close to the actual number,” she said. “People feel embarrassed and heartbroken by these scams, so they don’t tend to report them.”

Webb said romance scammers can find you anywhere, from Facebook to online knitting message boards. Fraudsters tend to claim to fall in love quickly, encourage their victim to keep their online tryst a secret and will start with small requests for financial assistance to build trust and personal investment from the victim.

Romance scam artists will also try to make it so that it’s the victim’s idea to send the money.

But virtual scams aren’t the only concern, especially for seniors. Webb said aggressive door-to-door sales, especially for water heaters, can hook people into contracts to pay thousands more for a service they don’t necessarily need.

She said homeowners need show no courtesy to a door-to-door salesperson.

“You don’t have to be nice,” Webb said. “Tell them to leave your property and, if they don’t, call the police.”

Ontario has built in laws to protect against aggressive door-to-door sales, including a 10-day “cooling off” period to void any contract you sign in your own home worth more than $50. Webb said the buyer’s remorse period is 20 days specifically for water heaters because they are such a problem.

About a dozen seniors gathered at the Brantford Visitor and Tourism Centre for Webb’s morning session on Wednesday. She repeated the workshop in the afternoon at the Sherwood Restaurant and will repeat it again, twice, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for those interested in hearing all her tips and tricks.

There will be one session at Lorne Towers, 24 Colborne St. W., from 10 a.m. to noon and another at the Brantford Public Library, 173 Colborne St., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Grand River Council on Aging pushed to bring in Webb for the sessions following its most recent Age-Friendly Community Summit, which focused on respect and social inclusion.

“We decided to focus more on the financial security aspect because of the number of scams you hear about, not only to seniors, but for all ages in the community who may be vulnerable such as newcomers or those with special needs,” GRCOA president Lucy Marco said. “People need to know how to recognize these scams.”

Just last week, Norfolk County OPP reported the story of a woman who doled out $240,000 to a romance scam artist, who had befriended her on Facebook, over a period of two years. The same day that was reported to police, on Sept. 6, another Norfolk resident was scammed into sending an unknown male caller $1,500 in “unpaid taxes” to claim a lottery prize.

Police say singles, seniors and recently unattached people – often women – are among the growing number of vulnerable people to be victimized by criminals through similar schemes.

For more information on Consumer Protection Ontario, visit Ontario.ca/ConsumerProtection.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Staying a step ahead of salesmen, cheats and liars

Grand River Council on Aging hosting workshop series to protect consumers from online scams and identity theft

News Sep 14, 2016 by Sean Allen Brant News

It’s easy to give people your money.

It’s a lot harder to get it back.

That sentiment is how senior public education and outreach advisor with Consumer Protection Ontario Erin Webb opens most of her presentations to the public.

On Wednesday, Webb was in Brantford at the behest of the Grand River Council on Aging and the Safe Brantford initiative for a workshop on consumer protection.

From door-to-door salespeople to remote online romance scams, Webb has the inside track on the many different ways fraudsters are working to part seniors – and other vulnerable portions of the population – from their hard-earned money.

She said the fastest growing areas of scamming is identity theft – but she also said it’s one of the easiest to start taking personal steps to combat.

The three most useful pieces of information for a potential scammer are your birthday, name and social insurance number (SIN).

“But the key thing to remember here is that, with few exceptions, there are only two people who need your SIN: the government and your employer,” Webb said. “Other companies might ask for it, such as cellphone providers or credit card companies, but it’s optional.”

She said in some cases the bank would need your SIN for bonds or registered savings plans, but beyond that, no one should get your SIN.

“I keep mine written down in one place,” Webb said, pointing to her head. “I keep the actual card buried in the back of my closet. You don’t need to give it to people.”

With your SIN, name and birthday in hand, however, scammers can open credit card accounts or specialty store cards, spend all the available money and walk away.

But even without your SIN, there are ways for scammers to use your personal information to open credit accounts in your name.

Webb said to protect your trash, wallet, car and mailbox to make it more difficult for scammers.

“Never throw anything with your personal information in the trash,” she said. “People will go down the street, pick up bags of garbage and, even if your document is shredded, they’ll take it home and put it back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

“These people have a lot of time and not a lot of dignity.”

Webb said she recommends what’s known as a confetti shredder, which shreds documents into small circles like the discharge from a three-hole punch. But failing that, she said you can use a regular line shredder and then soak the paper in water to make a paper mache ball.

“I save up my shredded documents, take them to the cottage and burn them,” she said. “Whatever works for you and makes it impossible to steal.”

As for your wallet, she said to carry around as few pieces of ID and credit cards as possible. She said not to leave any bills or documents in your car.

“Also, get a locked mailbox if it’s at your home,” she said. “People will watch a street one day for the timing of the mail delivery, come back the next day and take it before you know it’s been delivered.”

Phishing, vishing (or voice phising) and skimming are also strategies for fraudsters to get personal information.

Phishing is done online through emails or websites that seek to recreate the look of a legitimate website such as a bank to fool people into entering personal information and passwords. Webb said if prompted by a company to take action online, to never follow a link from an email. Instead, she said to leave the email and navigate to a company’s website directly from your browser.

Vishing is a similar tactic only done over the phone.

“A popular scam right now is someone calling you claiming to be from the (Canada Revenue Agency) and needing you to pay or they’ll send the police,” Webb said. “But the government will never threaten to send the police after you and never ask you to pay them in iTunes gift cards.”

To watch for skimming, which is done when scammers install equipment to steal your debit card information and PIN, Webb said to never use a debit terminal or ATM if it doesn’t look or feel right.

Romance scams online are another rising concern for Consumer Protection Ontario. Webb said that $15 million was reported lost by Canadians to some version of the romance scam online in 2015.

“And that’s nowhere close to the actual number,” she said. “People feel embarrassed and heartbroken by these scams, so they don’t tend to report them.”

Webb said romance scammers can find you anywhere, from Facebook to online knitting message boards. Fraudsters tend to claim to fall in love quickly, encourage their victim to keep their online tryst a secret and will start with small requests for financial assistance to build trust and personal investment from the victim.

Romance scam artists will also try to make it so that it’s the victim’s idea to send the money.

But virtual scams aren’t the only concern, especially for seniors. Webb said aggressive door-to-door sales, especially for water heaters, can hook people into contracts to pay thousands more for a service they don’t necessarily need.

She said homeowners need show no courtesy to a door-to-door salesperson.

“You don’t have to be nice,” Webb said. “Tell them to leave your property and, if they don’t, call the police.”

Ontario has built in laws to protect against aggressive door-to-door sales, including a 10-day “cooling off” period to void any contract you sign in your own home worth more than $50. Webb said the buyer’s remorse period is 20 days specifically for water heaters because they are such a problem.

About a dozen seniors gathered at the Brantford Visitor and Tourism Centre for Webb’s morning session on Wednesday. She repeated the workshop in the afternoon at the Sherwood Restaurant and will repeat it again, twice, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for those interested in hearing all her tips and tricks.

There will be one session at Lorne Towers, 24 Colborne St. W., from 10 a.m. to noon and another at the Brantford Public Library, 173 Colborne St., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Grand River Council on Aging pushed to bring in Webb for the sessions following its most recent Age-Friendly Community Summit, which focused on respect and social inclusion.

“We decided to focus more on the financial security aspect because of the number of scams you hear about, not only to seniors, but for all ages in the community who may be vulnerable such as newcomers or those with special needs,” GRCOA president Lucy Marco said. “People need to know how to recognize these scams.”

Just last week, Norfolk County OPP reported the story of a woman who doled out $240,000 to a romance scam artist, who had befriended her on Facebook, over a period of two years. The same day that was reported to police, on Sept. 6, another Norfolk resident was scammed into sending an unknown male caller $1,500 in “unpaid taxes” to claim a lottery prize.

Police say singles, seniors and recently unattached people – often women – are among the growing number of vulnerable people to be victimized by criminals through similar schemes.

For more information on Consumer Protection Ontario, visit Ontario.ca/ConsumerProtection.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Staying a step ahead of salesmen, cheats and liars

Grand River Council on Aging hosting workshop series to protect consumers from online scams and identity theft

News Sep 14, 2016 by Sean Allen Brant News

It’s easy to give people your money.

It’s a lot harder to get it back.

That sentiment is how senior public education and outreach advisor with Consumer Protection Ontario Erin Webb opens most of her presentations to the public.

On Wednesday, Webb was in Brantford at the behest of the Grand River Council on Aging and the Safe Brantford initiative for a workshop on consumer protection.

From door-to-door salespeople to remote online romance scams, Webb has the inside track on the many different ways fraudsters are working to part seniors – and other vulnerable portions of the population – from their hard-earned money.

She said the fastest growing areas of scamming is identity theft – but she also said it’s one of the easiest to start taking personal steps to combat.

The three most useful pieces of information for a potential scammer are your birthday, name and social insurance number (SIN).

“But the key thing to remember here is that, with few exceptions, there are only two people who need your SIN: the government and your employer,” Webb said. “Other companies might ask for it, such as cellphone providers or credit card companies, but it’s optional.”

She said in some cases the bank would need your SIN for bonds or registered savings plans, but beyond that, no one should get your SIN.

“I keep mine written down in one place,” Webb said, pointing to her head. “I keep the actual card buried in the back of my closet. You don’t need to give it to people.”

With your SIN, name and birthday in hand, however, scammers can open credit card accounts or specialty store cards, spend all the available money and walk away.

But even without your SIN, there are ways for scammers to use your personal information to open credit accounts in your name.

Webb said to protect your trash, wallet, car and mailbox to make it more difficult for scammers.

“Never throw anything with your personal information in the trash,” she said. “People will go down the street, pick up bags of garbage and, even if your document is shredded, they’ll take it home and put it back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

“These people have a lot of time and not a lot of dignity.”

Webb said she recommends what’s known as a confetti shredder, which shreds documents into small circles like the discharge from a three-hole punch. But failing that, she said you can use a regular line shredder and then soak the paper in water to make a paper mache ball.

“I save up my shredded documents, take them to the cottage and burn them,” she said. “Whatever works for you and makes it impossible to steal.”

As for your wallet, she said to carry around as few pieces of ID and credit cards as possible. She said not to leave any bills or documents in your car.

“Also, get a locked mailbox if it’s at your home,” she said. “People will watch a street one day for the timing of the mail delivery, come back the next day and take it before you know it’s been delivered.”

Phishing, vishing (or voice phising) and skimming are also strategies for fraudsters to get personal information.

Phishing is done online through emails or websites that seek to recreate the look of a legitimate website such as a bank to fool people into entering personal information and passwords. Webb said if prompted by a company to take action online, to never follow a link from an email. Instead, she said to leave the email and navigate to a company’s website directly from your browser.

Vishing is a similar tactic only done over the phone.

“A popular scam right now is someone calling you claiming to be from the (Canada Revenue Agency) and needing you to pay or they’ll send the police,” Webb said. “But the government will never threaten to send the police after you and never ask you to pay them in iTunes gift cards.”

To watch for skimming, which is done when scammers install equipment to steal your debit card information and PIN, Webb said to never use a debit terminal or ATM if it doesn’t look or feel right.

Romance scams online are another rising concern for Consumer Protection Ontario. Webb said that $15 million was reported lost by Canadians to some version of the romance scam online in 2015.

“And that’s nowhere close to the actual number,” she said. “People feel embarrassed and heartbroken by these scams, so they don’t tend to report them.”

Webb said romance scammers can find you anywhere, from Facebook to online knitting message boards. Fraudsters tend to claim to fall in love quickly, encourage their victim to keep their online tryst a secret and will start with small requests for financial assistance to build trust and personal investment from the victim.

Romance scam artists will also try to make it so that it’s the victim’s idea to send the money.

But virtual scams aren’t the only concern, especially for seniors. Webb said aggressive door-to-door sales, especially for water heaters, can hook people into contracts to pay thousands more for a service they don’t necessarily need.

She said homeowners need show no courtesy to a door-to-door salesperson.

“You don’t have to be nice,” Webb said. “Tell them to leave your property and, if they don’t, call the police.”

Ontario has built in laws to protect against aggressive door-to-door sales, including a 10-day “cooling off” period to void any contract you sign in your own home worth more than $50. Webb said the buyer’s remorse period is 20 days specifically for water heaters because they are such a problem.

About a dozen seniors gathered at the Brantford Visitor and Tourism Centre for Webb’s morning session on Wednesday. She repeated the workshop in the afternoon at the Sherwood Restaurant and will repeat it again, twice, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for those interested in hearing all her tips and tricks.

There will be one session at Lorne Towers, 24 Colborne St. W., from 10 a.m. to noon and another at the Brantford Public Library, 173 Colborne St., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Grand River Council on Aging pushed to bring in Webb for the sessions following its most recent Age-Friendly Community Summit, which focused on respect and social inclusion.

“We decided to focus more on the financial security aspect because of the number of scams you hear about, not only to seniors, but for all ages in the community who may be vulnerable such as newcomers or those with special needs,” GRCOA president Lucy Marco said. “People need to know how to recognize these scams.”

Just last week, Norfolk County OPP reported the story of a woman who doled out $240,000 to a romance scam artist, who had befriended her on Facebook, over a period of two years. The same day that was reported to police, on Sept. 6, another Norfolk resident was scammed into sending an unknown male caller $1,500 in “unpaid taxes” to claim a lottery prize.

Police say singles, seniors and recently unattached people – often women – are among the growing number of vulnerable people to be victimized by criminals through similar schemes.

For more information on Consumer Protection Ontario, visit Ontario.ca/ConsumerProtection.