The 19th annual Fraud Prevention Month campaign for March 2023 focuses on the tools fraudsters use to trick consumers, and provides Canadians with some tools to help protect themselves.
As in previous campaigns, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Competition Bureau are collectively leading the campaign. Officially titled “Tricks of the Trade: What’s in a fraudster’s toolbox?”, the campaign is designed to expose fraudsters tricks, tools and tactics, and help consumer recognize them. As in previous years, most of the work is online, with the #FPM 2023 social media hashtag being used to share information.
CAFC figures suggest that $530 million was lost to scams and fraud in 2022, an increase of 40% over 2021. However, CAFC also notes that actual figures could be nearly 20 times that, as it estimates only 5% to 10% of fraud losses are reported.
Materials released at the start of the campaign include details of some of the most prevalent fraud methods that capitalize on the inability of consumers to verify who is on the other side of online transactions. These include:
Spoofing – when a fraudster uses techniques such as caller ID to convince consumers they are speaking with people, or organizations they know.
Urgency – when pressure is used to trick consumers into sending money.
Emotional Manipulation – a variety of scams fall into this category, including those that included fraudulent romance, emergencies and charities.
Threats – when fraudsters threaten consumer with arrests, fines or other scare tactics to obtain money and encourage silence.
The materials also address technological tactics, such as pop-up boxes on computers that mislead recipients into thinking they have won prizes, and links to malicious sites where computer security and personal data can be threatened.
The campaign’s initial blitz of messages contained very little information about efforts other participants are undertaking to reduce Canadians’ exposure to fraud risks. There is a notice that the CAFC and National Cybercrime Coordination Centre are working to develop a new national cybercrime and fraud reporting system, that is expected to be operation in 2023-24 to improve public reporting of cybercrime and fraud.
Victims of fraud or cybercrime are encouraged to contact their local police and CAFC via its online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.