Although you should ensure you are looking out for fraud each month, we like to pay extra attention in March because it is Fraud Prevention Month. 

Constable Larry Neufeld, Portage la Prairie RCMP media liaison officer, says there are many kinds of fraud. He says there are common frauds reported in our area, like identity fraud, personal information fraud, merchandise fraud, service fraud and emergency fraud.

"Personal information fraud usually starts with the victim receiving a phone call or an email from a business bank government agency stating that they require their personal information immediately to prevent further risk to the victim. They will demand your name, address, birth date, possible bank account information and social insurance number. Never provide this information over the phone, online or through unsolicited information requests."

Neufeld summarizes merchandise fraud as scammers creating fake identities to establish accounts on various selling platforms.

"They will advertise anything that can be sold or rented. This includes vehicles, animals, concert tickets, homes for rent, etcetera. They have people send the payment electronically, and then will remove the item for sale or rent, and the victim never receives the items purchased. This is becoming very common in our area, and creating a fake online account is easy. We always ask that if you're purchasing something online, wait to send payment until you see the product. And can take possession of the property. Also, meet the people in a safe place to exchange these items."

He shifts the focus onto the seniors in our community by saying seniors are normally the victims of service fraud. 

"The seniors will normally be contacted with the problem that their computer is having, and the victim gives the caller access to their computer to fix the alleged problem. This gives them access to bank accounts. Possible passwords. Several other services can be used, never giving access to your computer to somebody bring it to a local reputable repair shop. And if you suspect a problem with your computer."

The RCMP officer says that seniors are also targeted by emergency fraud. 

"Emergency fraud is when a caller will tell the victim that their family member has been in an accident or arrested and that they are a friend of theirs and need the grandparents to send money immediately to help the family member. The criminals can obtain this information by searching open-source profiles. Accounts on the Internet. They can find out family members' names and places where they live. If they are currently travelling, which helps them build the information they will use to scam the victim." 

He notes that one of the most common types of fraud is Identity fraud. 

"Identity fraud is used to commit another type of crime with personal information. Criminals can gain access to your computer's bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards using your name, and even get a passport."

Constable Neufeld shares that there are many ways to keep yourself safe and protected. 

" Do not provide your name to unsolicited calls. They should already have your name if they are calling you." He continues, "Be wary of unsolicited emails, text messages, phone calls or mailings asking you for personal or financial information. You need to initiate the call to know who you are talking to. Be aware of upfront fees. There are no fees on taxes on prizes you have won in Canada. Do not click on pop-up messages on your computer while browsing, and do not call the number. They provide. No legitimate company will call you and say your computer is infected with a virus. Shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the trash."

Neufeld concludes by saying not to be afraid to say no to anyone calling or texting and that if you have been a victim of fraud, then call the police or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.