You work for RCMP ‘E’ Division Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement. Tell us what your Division does to help keep us safe from fraudsters.
RCMP in ‘E’ Division (British Columbia) consists of Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Policing levels, all of which work to enforce a gamut of Criminal Code offences including fraud and other financial crimes. Enforcement is an important component to keeping the public safe as it may lead to prosecution and disruption.
The ‘E’ Division Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement (FPPE) unit, as well as the RCMP’s ‘E’ Division Provincial Community Policing unit and the various RCMP’s Municipal Crime Prevention units work to identify, mitigate, and prevent the emerging crime trends on National, Provincial and Municipal landscapes.
FPPE unit is divided into four major pillars – Financial Integrity, Drugs and Organized Crime, Cyber Crime, and Border Integrity. I am responsible for Prevention and Engagement under the Financial Integrity pillar. Prevention, being on the one end of the spectrum, is a proactive approach that the RCMP have used to fight against fraud and other criminal offences to keep communities safe. To that end, we conduct analytical work to stay abreast of the fraud typologies, create products for awareness, and engage with public and private entities to distribute prevention messaging to the public in general and certain vulnerable demographics such as senior
What is one of the biggest challenges you have in helping seniors learn about scams targeted at them?
Reaching the seniors who need to be aware of the fraud scams is one of the biggest challenge we face.
Is there a COVID scam that caught your Division's attention?
Yes. Actually, there were many. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic and they range from fraudulent sales of PPE to ‘health’ products and services that claimed protection or cure of COVID.
The scams that look like legitimate opportunities from one of our trusted friends are tough to spot. You know the ones that come in via social media or email telling us about government grants, etc. Any suggestions to help us know when these are fake?
It is important to source the information that you see on the internet, whether it is from mass media or social media. I would check out the government agency’s website responsible for the supposed ‘grants’. Don’t click the link provided by the email or in the social media post. To ensure you get to the legitimate government site, you can Google it and find it from there. Read the website address to make sure.
If we are the victim of an online scam, how do we prove and fight it?
The online space is massive and fraudsters employ many schemes. Most of the schemes involve some form of trickery with the goal of obtaining your information or your funds. Remember phone numbers, emails, and websites can be faked. If you have any concerns about your account, contact the company or agency directly through the publicized phone number or web address.
Also, remember to practice good habits – keep your software updated, employ a virus/malware protection, and make sure your passwords are unique to the account and that they are at least 16 to 20 characters.
You should activate your online banking for your accounts. If you haven’t and with enough information, fraudsters may be able to activate your accounts and gain control.
Should we pick up calls from unknown numbers?
This depends on your comfort level. However, if it is important, the caller would leave a message. You can also search the number on Google and it may show a history of suspicious activity.
Fraudsters will phone posing as bank or government employee trying to convince us there is a problem with our bank account or SIN number. It can be hard to hang up in case the call is legitimate. What advice do you have if we find ourselves in that situation?
Most of these calls begin with a recorded message. Just hang up and if you are using an Android phone, ‘block’ it and mark it as ‘spam’. If you have any concerns with your account, contact your financial institution or government agency directly. If the call was received on a landline phone, ensure you have properly hung up before dialing again.
Government agencies and financial institutions do not call you and then ask you to provide private and sensitive information like your PIN or password. Nor will they threaten you and demand payments right away and in Bitcoin.
Fraudsters leave voicemails, emails, or text messages saying we must call our bank, government agency, or the police urgently, and they leave a return phone number. What advice do you have if we find ourselves in that situation?
Do NOT dial that “return phone number”, or click that link in the email or on your text message. If you have any concern with your account, contact them directly with the number on your statement or on the back of your card. For government agency, go directly to their website and locate the proper number from there.
What are the top things seniors should do to avoid being the victim of a scam?
1. Stay informed on fraud trends by visiting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.
2. Always double-check the source of the information. Fraudsters can mimic a legitimate website, phone number, email address, and official letters.
3. Talk to someone you trust if you are not sure. Scammers will try to pressure you into handing over your hard earned money.
Have you ever seen the RCMP Musical Ride?
Yes. I think it was about 10 years ago when they last came.
The RCMP is going to be 150 years old in 2023. Any big plans?
No, but if the Musical Ride comes back I will be there with my family. What better way to celebrate.