“We’re basically getting it out to the public that if there’s any unusual email requests, or promises of large amounts of money, or emails that seem out of sorts, or people calling saying family members are in trouble, you need to send money, that type of thing — basically the message is if it’s too good to be true, it’s not true,” said Cst. Dave Gyepesi of the Taber Police Service.
“We just want people to call the police to authenticate these types of things.”
The campaign is being conducted in conjunction with Crime Prevention Month, and Gyepesi has already been hitting the streets to get the message out to the public.
“We’re going door-to-door right now, so I’ve been walking downtown, doing all of the businesses downtown. We’re handing out the pamphlets for them to put in the windows, but we’re also going to the financial institutions and sitting down with the managers. We’re figuring out that the banks have a pretty good handle on these types of things, and they’re picking out some of the fraudulent activities.”
Gyepesi noted employees of financial institutions are trained to recognize the warning signs of potential suspect transactions.
“For example, if the little old lady goes into the bank that usually only takes out $200 every couple of weeks, and now she’s taking out a large sum of money — although there’s FOIP issues, they’re trained to ask certain questions, and maybe get some triggers in their brains that it’s not real.”
Restricting any personal information is a good rule of thumb in avoiding many types of fraud, according to Gyepesi.
“If it’s too good to be true, it’s not going to be true. If you have to give out any personal information whatsoever — be it bank account numbers, PIN numbers, social insurance numbers — those kinds of things, just don’t do it. Tell people, if they call, that you’ll get back to them. You don’t have to call them, because sometimes you call them back, and you get charged for that type of thing. But you can call the police and take your time and authenticate things.”
The prevalence of recent fraud-related activities in the community is hard to determine, as it is a crime which is often off the grid for law enforcement due to issues surrounding the reporting of incidents.
“It’s hard to tell, because a lot of times it’s unreported,” said Gyepesi. “The times when we find out about it is when people are out significant amounts of money. What we would like to see is those people calling us before they make those actions. We’ve already prevented some, the banks have prevented some, but we want to get it out there so we can prevent others.”
The Taber Police Service, in partnership with the Taber Community Action and Prevention Society (TCAPS), is distributing a series of pamphlets and fridge magnets throughout the community to try to raise fraud awareness.
“People can call the police if they have any questions,” said Gyepesi. “Family members need to look out for each other. If they have elderly parents or grandparents, they need to go and talk to them.”
If you or anyone you know have recently been a victim of fraud, or are suspicious of a phone call or email, Gyepesi encouraged members of the public to contact the Taber Police Service at 403-223-8991.