Nfld. & Labrador·The Lowdown

How to protect yourself from scammers

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary offers tips on what to watch out for, and what to do if you become a victim.

Police stress caution when dealing with people online or on the phone

RNC Const. James Cadigan said never provide personal information to someone over the phone or online. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Did you know that, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, less than five per cent of mass marketing fraud is reported?

Here's The Lowdown from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary about how to protect yourself from scams, and what to do if you become a victim.

Const. James Cadigan says if someone requests your personal information — that should set off an alarm bell.

Do not follow instructions to buy iTunes or Google Play gift cards. That is almost always a scam.- Const. James Cadigan

"Never provide personal information over the phone or through any Internet or online system," he said.

"If you do receive a call requesting bank information or any other personal information, request to call that person back at a number that you are familiar with."

Cadigan says never send money to people you meet online, and always be cautious when dealing with online or email correspondence.

"Do not follow instructions to buy iTunes or Google Play gift cards," he said. "That is almost always a scam."

And if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The Lowdown: Protecting yourself from scams

3 years ago
Duration 2:06
CBC Investigates speaks with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary about how to spot a scam, and what to do if you become a victim.

"If you do receive information that you've won a lottery or cash prize of any kind, companies will never ask that you make a deposit or provide a payment to hold that prize for you," he said.

If you receive a strange email or message from a friend or family member, Cadigan suggests you contact them directly.

"There is a chance that their computer may have been compromised," he said.

Canada Revenue Agency scams

Cadigan said there are things to keep in mind when taking calls from someone claiming to work for the Canada Revenue Agency.

"The Canada Revenue Agency will not threaten or use nasty language," he said, noting that it will also never leave personal information on an answering machine.

"They will not ask for personal information over text or email, and will not ask for payment by prepaid credit card."

What to do if you've been scammed

If someone suspects they've been scammed, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre suggests to first gather as much information as possible, including documents, receipts, emails, and text messages.

The incident should then be reported to local police.

"It's important that [the RNC has] the opportunity to follow up on these scams, to gain as much information as possible," Cadigan said.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also suggests calling them about the incident, as well as alerting the financial institution that's involved: a bank or credit union, a credit card company, a money-service business, or an internet payment service provider.

It also advises that a victim of identity fraud should place an alert on his or her accounts, and report it to both credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says you should also share your story with friends, family members, and co-workers, because education is key in keeping someone else from falling prey to a scam.

The Lowdown is a series from CBC NL Investigates about consumer news you can use. If you have a story idea, email us:

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Jen White

CBC News

Jen White is a reporter and producer with CBC News in St. John's.