Essex OPP cautioning residents over fraud reports

( file photo)

Ontario Provincial Police are asking Essex County residents to be wary after a series of fraud reports were received over the past few weeks.

The OPP cites reports from across the province of people losing money to telephone or internet scammers. Many of the scams involve phony threats of arrest due to tax problems, along with requests of people for banking information.

Among the tips police have to keep you from being ripped off are making sure you only carry the identification you actually need, such as your driver’s licence or credit cards, and not your social insurance number or passport.

You should never give out personal information over the phone or computer unless you know the caller personally and you have initiated the communication. Hang up on anyone you don’t know who calls and asks for this information. You are protecting yourself, not being discourteous.

Do not believe anyone who threatens you with arrest or a lawsuit, reply to any strange e-mail or spam, or sign a contract without reading it carefully or having an expert check it out.

If you are purchasing something online, police say you should use only secure payment sites like PayPal, go to a public place to pick up an item, such as the dedicated “safe trade” spaces at OPP detachments, and never agree to pay more than the arranged or advertised price. You should also shred any bank statements or old papers, and install anti-virus or firewall protection on your computer.

If you believe that you’ve been a victim of fraud, immediately contact your OPP detachment, or call them toll-free at 1-888-310-1122. Complete information about current fraud trends and tips to protect yourself can be found on the government of Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre website.