CAA Member Clark Sinnott
CAA Manitoba clinics help members with fraud prevention.
There was a time when email scams were easy to spot: You'd get a poorly written note from a Nigerian prince who wanted to share his wealth, if you send him your banking details. But today, attempts to obtain sensitive information—a.k.a. phishing schemes—are even more insidious and widespread. According to the Better Business Bureau, the country's 10 biggest scams bilked Canadians out of approximately $121 million in 2018.
Scammers now target anyone—and not just by email. "We were getting constant phone scams," says Clark Sinnott, a 25-year CAA member. "Things about our Visa or Mastercard alert system, the Canada Revenue Agency and that infamous fix-your-computer scam." Sinnott hasn't fallen for the scams, but he worries about others who are vulnerable, like his late father. "One time, he got a cheque in the mail—I think it was for $100— and it looked so real. We took it to the credit union to confirm it was a scam."
Aware of scammers' ever-evolving techniques, Sinnott decided to attend a CAA Manitoba fraud prevention clinic, which he learned about from a CAA e-newsletter. He and his wife, Carole, settled in with about 30 other participants to learn how to respond to suspicious calls or emails—and what to do if you think you're a victim of fraud. Sinnott admits that he usually likes to have a "little fun" with phishers on the phone. But police officers from the Winnipeg Police Service's fraud division cautioned that it's best to simply hang up and immediately report the call to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Fraud clinics are just one of the ways CAA Manitoba helps members arm themselves with knowledge. Whether it's car seat safety or travel tips, members have access to important information about how to stay safe at home or abroad.
After the clinic, participants were given take-home material about fraud prevention, which Sinnott passed along to friends and family. "It's good information that everyone should know to protect themselves," he says, adding that when in doubt, stick to the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."