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OPP raising cyber security awareness for Fraud Prevention Month

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch, Serious Fraud Office Ontario (SFO) and its Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) partners are launching their annual Fraud Prevention Month campaign.

During the month of March, the OPP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), CAFC and the Competition Bureau of Canada are joining police services across the country to promote public awareness to help prevent all Canadians from becoming victims of fraud, according to a release from OPP, dated Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021.

OPP say this year the Fraud Prevention Month campaign will highlight five important topics pertaining to online safety, security and fraud prevention:

  • Buying and Selling Online;
  • Online Financial Scams;
  • Securing Your Accounts and Your Identity;
  • Email Scams; and
  • Online Scams.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Canadians shop, conduct business, learn and interact with each other. As a result, a significant shift has been made to utilize technology, which has resulted in considerable positive changes, OPP say. However, this has not come without a cost. This past year numerous Canadians, businesses and organizations have fallen victim to the destructive toll of cyber enabled crimes.

In 2020, the CAFC received 19,473 fraud reports from 9,858 Ontario victims who reported losing approximately $47 million to fraudsters, according to the release. Moreover CAFC received, 67,294 reports from Canadian consumers and businesses that reported losses totalling more than $104.2 million. OPP say this figure only represents the losses related to approximately five percent of fraud victims who report the crime to police or the CAFC. 

Fraudsters have embraced technologies to engage, target and exploit victims, often with devastating financial and emotional effects, OPP say. All Canadians can take basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud. 

OPP share some basic online tips to help you stay safe:

  • Create strong passwords;
  • Avoid opening unsolicited emails or clicking on suspicious links or attachments;
  • Restrict the amount of information shared publicly;
  • Show caution with regards to social media; and
  • Update technical security software.

“Fraud Prevention Month is about the fraud prevention community working together to create greater awareness and to highlight the various ways that all Canadians are being targeted by fraud. By emphasizing the education component, Canadians can be better prepared,” OPP say in the release.  

If you do fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, individuals are urged to contact their local police service and the CAFC by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online by way of the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.

The public is encouraged to engage in the conversation to help recognize, reject and report fraud by using the hashtags #FraudFriday, #FPM2021 #kNOwFraud, #Take5 #Tell2, #SeriousFraudOfficeON

For more fraud facts and figures and a downloadable booklet (PDF), visit The Competition Bureau of Canada website at https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/home or by visiting http://www.opp.ca and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

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