By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele
March is Fraud Awareness Month, a campaign that educates and helps protect Canadians from fraud, the act of trying to steal money, property or a service through dishonesty or trickery. Each year, as part of this campaign, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Bureau works with its partners to provide resources and education about the importance of staying protected and reporting suspicious activity.
Providing students with the tools they need to protect themselves is a priority for Mac’s Money Centre, especially since students and recent graduates are often considered to be a target. From leaving laptops unmonitored in the library to using free public Wi-Fi while accessing personal information or applying for a job posting on classified websites like Indeed or Workopolis, there are many everyday tasks that can put a person at risk.
As recent events have shown, international students have become a notable target for fraud, with scammers applying pressure and scare-tactics on international students to share their information; scare tactics include the threat of deportation, arrest, and passport status. In these cases, international students are encouraged to remember that immigration will not get in contact through phone or door-to-door, and will not require immediate funds.
For Mac’s Money Centre, Fraud Awareness Month is an opportunity to empower students to develop a stronger awareness of fraud schemes so that they can confidently identify and handle potential scams. On Monday, March 19, 2018, Mac’s Money Centre will welcome the Hamilton Police for a presentation, where students can attend to learn and ask questions; food and refreshments will be provided.
One of the key takeaways from this presentation will be the power of awareness and confidence. Many fraud schemes involve creating a sense of urgency and awareness; for students who are uncertain about situations that have higher financial stakes or that involve sharing personal information, it is recommended that they take a moment to reflect, examine the situation, and seek advice before making a decision.
“There is sometimes a fine line between outright fraud and scams; but, they’re in the same category. Scams such as free products and giveaways can sometimes be just as financially risky,” says Gina Robinson, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Student Success Centre. “If it’s too good to be true, it likely isn’t true. Have confidence and go with your gut when things don’t feel right. Report when you come across a situation so that scammers know you’re onto them.”
In a potential fraud situation, students or members of the McMaster community on-campus should get in contact with McMaster Security (dial 88 on any on-campus phone); members of the Hamilton community, including students living in the Westdale area, should get in contact with the Hamilton Police.
To attend the Fraud Awareness Month presentation, students can register on OSCARplus.