Canadians suffered historic losses from scams in 2021: Competition Bureau Canada
Canada’s Competition Bureau says Canadians lost a record amount to scams in 2021, with a 130% increase from losses in 2020.
Nicola Pfeifer, senior competition law officer at the Competition Bureau Canada, says even this figure is lower than the actual amount, as it is estimated that only 5% of losses from scams are reported.
“Last year was a historic year for reported financial losses,” says Pfeifer. “$379 million was lost to scams and fraud in 2021. This is a 130% increase from 2020.”
The most common types of scams in Canada are online shopping scams, with almost a third of all reported scams falling into this category.
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However, the Better Business Bureau, in the Canadian Risk Report, states that the riskiest type of scam is cryptocurrency.
This is due to the high average amount lost through such scams.
The BBB reports that an average of $1,500 is lost to cryptocurrency scams, compared to an average of $125 lost to online shopping scams.
BBB encourages anyone who has been scammed, or encounters a scam, to report it using its Scam Tracker tool, as well as to report the scam to the police.
“An important tool we use to assess scams that affect consumers is our BBB Scam Tracker, launched in 2015,” said Simone Lis, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau. “This online platform allows consumers and businesses across North America to report attempted or successful acts of fraud they have experienced. These fraud cases are investigated and published for the public, allowing others to identify scams and avoid losing money.
Lis says this tool can also be used for anyone who is unsure if they are being scammed. Users can search for the name of the company they are in contact with and see if other users have flagged it as a probable scam.
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When people come across something online that they might not be sure about, pause to assess the situation.
“The golden rule is to take five. Five minutes, five hours, five days, five weeks. Don’t be in a rush,” Pfeifer said. “Scammers who contact companies will almost always tell you that what they want you to do is urgent and they are eager to exert pressure.”
“Be aware when someone is trying to pressure you. Stop for a moment and think before parting with your money or personal information. It can make all the difference.”
According to the BBB report, 62.8% of people who say they have been exposed to a scam are women, but men report being scammed 48.5% of the time, with a higher amount of losses due to scams.
Men report a median of $369 lost to scams, compared to $188 for women.
The BBB has 10 tips to avoid being scammed:
- Never send money to someone you haven’t met.
- Do not click on links or attachments from unknown senders.
- Don’t believe everything you see or read.
- Take precautions when shopping online.
- Be very careful when dealing with people you have met online.
- Never share personally identifiable information with people who contact you unsolicited.
- Don’t have to act quickly.
- Use secure and traceable transactions.
- Work with companies that have proper identification, licensing and insurance whenever possible.
- Be careful when sharing on social media.