Protecting yourself against scams

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by Cyndy Batchelor, FMA, BCom
Financial Advisor, O’Farrell Wealth & Estate Planning|Assante Capital Management Ltd.

How many times have you received a phone call to have your ducts cleaned, a text from the Revenue Agency or an email claiming you have an inheritance in the past week?  

Recently my mom was targeted by what is referred to as the “Grandparent Scam”. She received a phone call and the caller said “Hi Grandma it is me”, to which she of course replied with one of my kids’ names.  Now having some personal information, the caller was able to hold a conversation with her. He told her he was in trouble and needed her to send funds immediately to be bailed out of jail for being caught with his friend who had pot in the car. Luckily, my mom is tight with her money and had the presence to tell “my kid” to call his dad to meet him at the police station. My grandfather immediately phoned my son to ensure all was indeed ok (it was!) and relay the story. My kid delightfully informed my parents that since pot is now legal, he would never have been arrested for having it in a car (even I did not think of that!), and if they were carrying enough pot to be arrested, then $1000 was not going to get them out of jail. In the meantime, we have now extended our safe word to my parents – I let them know if they ever thought my kids (or us!) were calling, to ask for the safe word. If we cannot deliver the safe word, then it is not us on the other end of the phone.  

This is only one type of scam that is currently being used. You may get asked to provide advance payment for services, have your credit cards or other personal information used without your consent or knowledge, or end up the victim of a romance scam. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it likely is. If someone you meet online asks for money or personal information, it is time to abandon ship.

What can you do to protect yourself?

– Credit Monitoring – there are several free credit monitoring sites, sign up and check frequently

– Malware and antivirus protection on your devices

– Don’t store your credit card information on any sites (this includes vendors)

– Use complex passwords & clear your browser history 

– Don’t click on any links in texts or emails and review senders

– Create a safe word

– Don’t use unsecured public Wi-Fi

You should also ensure you have a Trusted Contact Person on file with your financial institutions. A trusted contact person (TCP) is someone your advisor can reach out to if they are concerned you are being financially exploited or are making poor decisions because of diminished mental capacity. For example, they may notice transactions or financial decisions that are unusual based on your past behaviour. If you need to add or update a Trusted Contact Person, please reach out to your Financial Advisor. 

Cyndy Batchelor is a Financial Advisor with Assante Capital Management Ltd. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Assante Capital Management Ltd. Please contact her at 613.258.1997 or visit ofarrellwealth.com to discuss your circumstances prior to acting on the information above. Assante Capital Management Ltd. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

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