March is Fraud Prevention Month
ORILLIA, ON, March 8, 2012 /CNW/ - As their Fraud Prevention Month campaign continues, members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch want to ensure your online shopping and auction experiences don't result in emptied 'shopping carts' and bank accounts.
People use the Internet everyday for all types of activities, including buying and selling goods and services out of convenience -- sometimes at lower than retail costs. No matter how you choose to shop online, you could be exposing your personal information to fraudsters, which can result in identity theft, significant financial losses or severe credit card obligations. For example, scammers may sell a product - often at a very cheap price - just so they can steal your payment card or personal information.
In 2011, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre -- located in North Bay, Ontario -- received 2,479 complaints of online shopping fraud in Canada. Of those, 1,682 were identified as victims who reported a loss of more than $3.6-million, including perpetrators using e-mail, the Internet and text messaging to access victims.
Some of the more common ways that people expose themselves to fraud while shopping online include:
- creating an online profile that includes credit card or banking information; and,
- saving your passwords on a computer in a file that has not been encrypted, or protected by a key or password.
To guard against becoming a victim, police advise you to only use your credit card online on trusted sites and ensure that your online transaction is encrypted. Look for websites with addresses starting with "https" or a padlock image on the page. This will indicate that the information entered on these pages and the transmission of the information is secure. Check to see whether your credit card issuer has a fraud protection policy and how you can be protected. Also, check your statements every month and report any errors or unauthorized transactions.
If you or someone you know suspect you've been a victim of fraud while shopping online, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.
"Knowledge is power. Consumers can take some basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim, such as never giving out personal information over the phone or over the internet. Deal with companies or individuals that you know by reputation or experience."
- Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime
"If you are not familiar with the company or comfortable with online commerce or auctions, do some research. Always remember, if an offer sounds suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is."
-- Acting Inspector Scott JAMES, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch
Online Shopping Fraud - from a buyer's and seller's point of view, click here.
Glossary of Pitch Types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Merchandise: Any products purchased through classified ads over the Internet or Internet auction sites or through a catalogue or by mail order, and never receiving the items or receiving the product which is of inferior value, quality or it is not what it is supposed to be.
Sale of Merchandise by Complainant: Any incident involving an individual selling merchandise and receiving payment in the form of a counterfeit or altered monetary instrument (e.g. cheque, money order etc.) for more than the asking price. The victim is then directed to cash the cheque and send the extra amount back. Ultimately, the victim is responsible to pay back any funds sent after cashing the cheque and may lose the sold merchandise if it has been shipped.
MEDIA NOTE: This is the second of five weekly OPP media releases on various criminal activities as part of Fraud Prevention Month.
For further information:
Detective Constable Dave Felstead
OPP Anti-Rackets Branch