It’s National Fraud Prevention Month as declared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Government of Canada. After almost becoming a victim of a speaking scam, I’d like to share my thoughts on how you can spot a scam so you’re not a victim.
1. Separate yourself from the situation
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to fall for the charm of the scammer. They seem helpful, empathetic and professional. Get off the phone or leave your computer quickly. Take a walk, take a showever, anything so you can separate yourself from the spell being cast on you.
My dad tells people who call him that he has to check with his board of directors before he makes a decision (and then hangs up the phone). His board of directors are me and my 2 sisters. In his mind, if he wants something, he’ll go out and get it. He doesn’t need someone calling him to tell him what he needs. Take on my dad’s mindset and you’ll be safe.
2. Talk to a family member or trusted friend
Don’t make your decision in isolation. Speak to someone about what you’re going to do. When I chatted to my mom about the speaking scam, she made a wise comment. She said “Leesa, when you usually speak overseas, you typically tell me months in advance. This one seems so quick.” She was right. Reputable event planners start organizing their events at least a year.
3. Ask questions and plenty of them
Scammers will get irritated with you if you start asking LOTS of questions. Remember, speed is what they’re after and if you ask them TONS of questions, you’re taking them away from being able to scam others. In my case, my assistant and the scammers were emailing each other for 2-weeks just to finalize which airport I’ll fly from. This delay actually saved me from parting with any money.
4. Doubt, just a little
I said to a commenter that when you grow up in a society where people are generally nice, where your physical security isn’t at risk on a daily basis, where you pretty much get what you want through honest means, you don’t live with suspicion or malice towards anyone.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to start doubting everyone out there as that’s no way to live. What I am saying is stop being so naive. There will be a point in your lifetime where you’ll meet a sociopath who’s only intent is to make you separate from your hard earned cash.
5. You do not need to answer every phone call
I have call display and if I don’t recognize the number, I’m not answering the phone. Get into the habit of only answering calls from numbers you recognize. If you don’t have call display, get it. If you can pay $8 a month for that service to avoid being scammed out of thousands of dollars, I’d say it’s a wise investment.
Scammers rely on speed and pressure to get you to part with your money. Follow my tips above so you too can avoid becoming a victim.
- Fraud Prevention Month Events compiled by the Competition Bureau
- Fraud Prevention Month Tips compiled by RBC
- Canadians under estimate fraud risk – Advisor.ca article
- How to Protect Your Identity offered by CIBC