Editorial: Stay vigilant, scammers adjusting their tactics

No one will ever accuse you of being foolish for asking for another opinion

Vancouver Island newsrooms get calls, emails and visits from seniors on a nearly-weekly basis, asking us to post another warning about the latest scam.

From emails, to phone calls, to visits from suspicious “jacks of all trades,” there never seems to be a shortage of criminals wanting to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens.

Sadly, the hunters often prey on the elderly – we suspect for a couple of reasons. Not only are the elderly generally less cognizant when it comes to the digital universe, but, perhaps even more so, they are being targeted because they are too trusting of others.

There are a couple of tips to follow that can help avoid what could result in financial devastation.

First and foremost, if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.

The emails from wealthy widows in faraway places are not as abundant as they used to be, but they still are coming from time to time, which indicates they are still effective. Keep this in mind: It is highly unlikely that you have a long-lost relative in Nigeria; no one has randomly selected you to inherit their millions.

When it comes to emails involving the Canada Revenue Agency, this is an easy one to debunk: The CRA does not use email. In what is likely an act of self-preservation, the CRA relies on good old Canada Post for its initial contact.

But the scammers have caught on to that premise, and have adjusted. We have received calls recently about authentic-looking letters, supposedly from the CRA, in authentic-looking envelopes, demanding payment of back taxes owed.

If you receive anything of the sort, it’s advisable you check with your accountant, or anyone within that profession, to determine authenticity.

In contrast to the “too good to be true” rule, also keep in mind it can work the other way: if it feels like you are being taken advantage of, trust that feeling.

Don’t hesitate to get a trusted second opinion. No one will ever accuse you of being foolish for asking.

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