The Winnipeg Police Service is helping Manitobans keep their identity safe with events this week during Fraud Prevention Month in March.
"When people have their identity stolen, it could take some time — weeks or months — before they discover that their identity was stolen," said Det. Claude Dasylva, who's with the police service's Commercial Crime Unit. "It's quite a bit of a problem."
Today, fraudsters find personal information by digging through people's garbage, phishing emails and romance scams, Dasylva said.
Phishing emails will ask you to click a link and lead you to a page that asks you for your personal information. For example, the email may say your bank account is frozen and the link will take you to a page where you fill in your account information. The people who set up this scam can then see your personal information.
The romance scams are where fraudsters go on dating sites, befriend victims over several weeks or months until they can ask the victims for money, for example, travel money to meet the victim in person.
"Unfortunately, at the end the victims are left heartbroken and at loss for a huge amount of money," he said.
Dasylva warns that if something on the internet or over the phone sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
He recommends shredding anything that has a name on it and talking to a friend, family member or the police if anyone is suspicious of a possible scam.
The Winnipeg Police Service is reminding people to never send money to someone you don't know in person and to avoid providing personal information online or over the phone in situations you didn't initiate.
The Winnipeg Police Service is holding a Twitter event on Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. for people who have questions. The hashtag to use during the event is #WPSFraudSquad.
Police are also holding a free paper shredding event at St. Vital Mall on Thursday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
If you have been a victim of a fraud, contact the Winnipeg Police Service at 204-986-6222.