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7 clues to help you spot a scam

September 28, 2022

Fraudsters use a variety of strategies to trick people: phishingromance scamsphone scamsget-rich-quick scams, etc. While these approaches differ, they often rely on manipulation to make you let your guard down. Here are a few clues that will help you spot them.

It’s easy to think that fraud and scams only happen to other people or that you won’t fall for them. However, fraudsters are continually improving their methods and can be quite clever and convincing.

Having a few examples of possible fraud in mind can make it easier to spot them. Without necessarily knowing all the tactics used by fraudsters, consider the signs below as red flags to ask yourself questions and check the legitimacy of the message with reliable sources.

1. It’s unexpected

Did you win a contest you never entered? Receive a notification or text about a package you didn’t order? Get a call that there’s a problem with your computer and it needs to be fixed? Ask yourself, “Did I make this request?”

Desjardins sends emails and text messages

We use email and text to communicate with you, but only to provide you with factual information. For example, you may receive a message or an alert that your account statement is available or that your credit card balance is high. You may also receive a text message asking you to confirm a login attempt on your account and transactions made with your credit card.

2. It’s really urgent (and there’s a reason for that)

Whether it’s a matter of accepting an offer quickly, sending a payment or providing information, the time frame is very short and could lead to immediate consequences if no action is taken. This pressure is designed to cause panic and quick action, without giving you the time to question, research and recognize the deception.

3. The tone is threatening… or particularly courteous

A story that plays on fear, coupled with insults or threats (a very large transaction that could fail, professional dismissal, reporting to the police, etc.), seeks to arouse strong emotions and confuse you. Conversely, some techniques (like romance scams.) use courteous and affectionate language to exploit emotional vulnerability.

4. It’s not normal to be asked for this

If you’re asked to provide personal or confidential information (password, personal identification number [PIN], social insurance number, etc.), ask yourself why based on who you’re talking to. Never disclose your information if you didn’t initiate the call. It’s also abnormal to be asked to hand over or drop off your credit and debit card in your mailbox (as is the case with the fake advisor and mail carrier scams).

What to do when in doubt

In the case of a suspicious phone call, write down the name of the person you’re talking to and end the conversation. Don’t rely on the caller ID or the number you were given. Contact the company or the government agency yourself, using the contact information from official websites or a reliable external source (Canada 411, Autorité des marchés financiers, Registre des entreprises, professional order, etc.). If the communication proves to be fraudulent, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

5. The source of the message seems fishy

Is the message full of errors or typos? Is the email address from a free email service or a name that looks like the company’s name but with extra characters? Such clues suggest that the message is a phishing attempt.

Whether it’s received via email, social media, text or phone, stop and ask yourself questions before clicking a link, opening an attachment or following up on a message from people or companies you don’t know or that shows other signs of a potential scam.

6. It sounds too good to be true

Unless it’s an auction, ask yourself whether it’s normal to be offered way more than the asking price for something you’re selling online. The same goes for being offered highly sought-after new or nearly new equipment (video game console, performance bike, smartphone, etc.) at a ridiculous price. Making “easy money” only comes at the expense of a victim. When an offer seems too good to be true, trust your gut.

7. It’s top secret

An executive in your company gives you the inside scoop on a major transaction that no one should know about? Someone in trouble asks you for money and insists that you not notify the authorities? These tricks are designed to prevent you from talking to anyone who might recognize the scam and warn you.

Security section in AccèsD

This section tells you how secure your AccèsD account is and suggests ways to better protect yourself. It’s a centralized tool for managing your password, security questions, devices and 2-step verification too.

Check out the Security section

Some victims may feel embarrassed or even ashamed after being duped, and may not dare to talk about it. This shouldn’t be the case, and it’s important to tell those around you and to notify the authorities. Fraudsters are constantly tweaking their tactics to manipulate and ensnare their targets.

You can also contact us to get support or to discuss the situation privately by calling 1-800-CAISSES (1-800-224-7737).