March is Fraud Prevention Month and Hamilton police want to make sure you stay safe.

The tips the Hamilton Police Service give citizens in order to avoid fraud may seem like common sense, but because fraud is still widespread in the community, the reminders are necessary, they say.

Constable Debbie McGreal-Dinning, media relations officer for the Hamilton Police Service, said scammers take advantage of people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels. She added that it's important for people to be aware of the wide variety of different kinds of scams out there.

"One of the best ways to combat this kind of fraud is to take measures to prevent yourself from being caught in the first place," said McGreal-Dinning.

She added that education and awareness are both key factors in avoiding fraud, and urges people to visit the police service's website to learn more about the different kinds of fraud.

The Hamilton Police Service website lists the following basic tips for avoiding fraud:

  • Never enter your personal, credit card or online account information on a website that you are not certain is genuine.
  • Check the website address carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with very similar addresses to established institutions such as banks and stores.
  • Never give out personal bank information over the telephone or on email.
  • Don't just throw out papers containing personal information, destroy them. You should cut up, burn or shred old bills, statements or cards.
  • Never agree to withdraw large sums of cash from your account and send it to a stranger for any reason.
  • If you are suspicious about a transaction, check with family, friends and/or the Police before sending any money to someone.
  • Lottery agencies will never ask a winner to pay any fees up front to receive a prize, lottery or sweepstake.
  • If the offer sounds suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Resist pressure to "act now" to get what sounds like a good deal or windfall.
  • Don't let people pressure you into making quick decisions about money or investments.