Sherri Batyi of Agassiz woke to a phone call from someone from her credit card company at 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Or at least that’s what the caller wanted her to believe.
“It really sounded like it was from the bank,” Batyi recalled. She said the caller claimed there was a fraudulent charge on her credit card account in an effort to secure her credit card number. When Batyi hung up with the caller, she called Visa directly using the phone number on the back of her card to confirm the scam, which the company confirmed.
This call fostered concern in Batyi for members of the community, especially for seniors who recently took over paying the bills when a partner has passed away.
“It’s so easy for people to get scammed,” Batyi said.
Credit card scams like Batyi experienced are ever-present and scammers have continued their activity even during COVID-19 throughout Canada, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB recently reported a five per cent increase in Scam Tracker reports related to the coronavirus pandemic. Of those reported almost 60 per cent of victims lost an average of $75 in addition to their banking and other sensitive personal information.
Almost half of the scams reported in the last three months originated through websites. The scams have lately been focused on selling masks, sanitizer, bogus streaming subscriptions and pets. Other scams impersonated government agencies, banks and businesses claiming to offer COVID-19 relief benefits and even job opportunities.
Scammers have also taken to social media under a number of premises, including false investment opportunities, people looking for a friend and fake business profiles.
“Scammers are opportunists, and they continue to use the crisis as a way to fleece consumers out of hard-earned cash,” said Karla Laird, spokesperson for the BBB serving Mainland B.C. “Now more than ever, consumers need to double check every text message, email and website. With constant exposure to text-based communications, it is easy to let our guards down, but now is not the time.”
The BBB offers a number of tips to protect yourself from scams.
Only buy from reputable stores and websites. Buy directly from sellers you know and trust.
Be wary of unsolicited calls, texts, emails and social media messages. Government agencies do not reach out to you through these channels. Scammers tend to call out of the blue and impersonate the government to, for example, gather basic information to see if you qualify for a grant with the ultimate goal of securing your banking information.
If something sounds off, contact the company or check the website.For example, if you get a call or a text about a possible job opening, be sure to contact the company or check their website to verify the job opening exists.
For more information and tips, please visit www.bbb.org/mbc/covid19.
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