Realistic vacation scam making its rounds in Ontario

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Published July 1, 2024 at 4:22 pm

vacation scam hits ontario

It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to taking a break from daily routines for some much-needed rest and relaxation. However, planning a getaway has become more challenging with rising prices, including flights and accommodations.

Sometimes, that one phone call may sound enticing, offering free or discounted vacations. But beware—they’re often scams designed to steal your money.

According to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre— a trusted source for alerting the public to emerging scams— reports of a new scheme offering vacations.

Fraudsters will call, text or send an email pretending to be legitimate representatives of popular airlines such as Air Canada, Air Transat, and WestJet.

They will proceed to tell the recipient that they have won a free trip or have the opportunity to receive one for a discounted price.

If you try to claim the vacation, the scammers ask for the following to book the trip:

  • Your personal information may be requested including your name, address, age, Social Insurance Number, and banking details.
  • A deposit is often required to secure or guarantee that you will receive a prize, gift, or benefits the fraudsters are promising.

Victims may find themselves either paying more for a low-quality trip or, in most cases, receiving no trip at all.

To protect yourself from such scams, here are some tips from the anti-fraud centre:

Avoid giving out personal information:

  • Be cautious of unsolicited calls asking for your name, address, birthdate, social insurance number, credit card, or banking information.
  • If you didn’t initiate the call, you can’t be sure who you’re speaking to.

Exercise caution with upfront fees:

  • Many scams require payment before providing goods, services, or prizes.
  • It’s illegal for companies to demand payment before providing a loan.

Know your rights regarding prizes:

  • There are no prize fees or taxes in Canada.
  • Legitimate prizes do not require upfront payment.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says if you’ve been a victim of a scam, fraud, or cybercrime, you should promptly contact your local police.

It is also recommended that you report the instance of a scam, fraud or cybercrime (whether you are a victim or not) to the fraud centre.

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