Scam-Avoiding Tips from a Private Investigator
In a world currently dominated by fear and uncertainty generated by the Coronavirus and its effects, scammers are finding new ways to exploit and abuse unsuspecting individuals. Private investigators (PIs) have dealt with an increase in online scams throughout 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and the resulting increase in online presence across generations and across the world. PIs have shared that these trends require increased vigilance and awareness of your online activity and communications.
One common Coronavirus-related scheme currently involves receiving an email claiming that you have become eligible for the vaccine and that you can reserve your appointment time by confirming your identification. Confirming your identification often requires sharing personal information including your name, address and bank details. Under no circumstance will any healthcare body require you to share your bank account information. Other common coronavirus-related schemes involve using scare tactics and misinformation in order for you to reveal your personal information over the phone, over email, through text or social media.
Another avenue through which a scammer uses the Coronavirus to steal money is by posing as the government and offering an extra stimulus cheque. This kind of scam will require you to share your bank account information so that they may deposit the money you are “owed” or so that they may withdraw a “one-time processing fee”. Conversely, many fake charities have sprung up during the pandemic and ask you for money to help those who have been most affected, whether it be for hospitals, shelters or foodbanks. Before clicking any link or sharing any information, call the Investigation Hotline for a quick and free expert advice.
The following are tips from a private investigator to help you avoid scammers in today’s climate:
1) To avoid phishing schemes that often come in the form of an email, never open any attachments unless you are 100% sure of the sender. If you are not certain, delete the email immediately and report it to the organization that the email was impersonating;
2) Use biometric security such as touch ID or facial recognition on all of your devices and accounts whenever possible;
3) If anyone asks for bank account information, even when they are telling you they want to send you money, do not provide them with such and report them to the authorities;
4) If you receive a phone call or email from the CRA asking for personal information in order to pay outstanding taxes, do not give it to them. This is a very common scam. Instead, log in to your CRA account through the official government website and communicate through those means only;
5) Educate your elderly family members and friends of the dangers of the grandparent trap, where scammers will impersonate the individual’s grandchild asking for money;
6) If you get a text message claiming you have won something, asking you to enter a draw or asking for personal information, do not open any attachments and delete the message immediately;
If you become the victim of a scam, do not worry. You are not alone. A private investigator is well-versed in the world of scams and the experts at Investigation Hotline can help you deal with the difficult aftermath of such scams. Investigation Hotline private investigators can help you find the scammer and can even help you get back your money through use of modern investigation techniques and legal acumen. So remain vigilant and practice safe online activity, but know that we are always here if you need us.