Most of us know intrinsically not to send money to strangers, but a surprising number of Canadians are subject to money transfer fraud every year.
Here, Western Union shares three common scams along with some tips to stay safe and prevent yourself from being victimized:
- Grandparent scam. A victim is contacted by someone who pretends to be a close family member or a person of authority, like a medical professional or attorney, stating that there is an urgent emergency. This person asks for a money transfer to be sent immediately so that the issue can be resolved. However, once the money has been received, the fraudster goes silent. To stay safe, let ‘trust, but verify’ be your motto. Before sending money to solve what seems to be an emergency, first verify that it is in fact an emergency. Call or text your family member in question, or another family member. Prepare a list of questions to ask ahead of time to verify their identity and whereabouts.
- Robocall scam. A robocall is an automated, pre-recorded audio message. Robocalls are often used to perpetrate immigration or tax scams. In these calls, the victim is informed that they are behind on payments and are threatened with jail time or deportation if they don’t make a lump-sum payment via money transfer or a pre-paid credit card. This, however, is untrue.To stay safe, if you think you’re being called by a robocaller, hang up the phone. Don’t press any buttons on the call that can “redirect you to a live operator” and don’t dial any other number they suggest.
- Rental property scam. Many renters use online tools to look at apartments. In these scams, the property “owner” offers a rental at a competitive price and requests a money transfer to cover a “deposit.” The “owner” claims there is a need to move quickly, but once money is sent, is never heard from again.To stay safe, never pay for a property you found online using a money transfer or send money to anyone you haven’t met in person. Also avoid any listing that pressures you or requires you to act immediately.
Fraudsters can be convincing. If you do send money to someone and you realize it’s a scam, alert the authorities and report it to the money transfer provider — the transfer could be stopped if it hasn’t been picked up. Find more smart security tips at www.wu.com/fraudawareness.