The Medicine Hat Police Service is reminding Hatters to remain vigilant through the Holiday Season and New Year, as phone and email scams are a common community issue.
“This year, consistently we have seen a variety of different scams come through the Medicine Hat Police Service and through our community,” Sgt. Adam Gregory of the Community Support Unit told the News. “The types of scams we’ve been seeing in Medicine Hat are usually through phone or through email, and they typically are a fraudster asking for private information in an attempt to gain money or gift certificates from our community citizens.
“We’ve seen these scams with fraudsters pretending to be government officials, members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the police, cell phone providers, credit card companies or lottery companies.”
While Gregory admits some of the scams are sophisticated and appear legitimate, he encourages the public to stay vigilant and ask questions before providing personal information, gift cards or funds.
“None of those agencies – and very few companies in general – would ask us to go out and purchase gift cards and give the numbers to them. That is a very high indicator it’s a fraud,” he said.
Another common scam is a call or email announcing the recipient as a lottery or contest winner.
“You’re not going to win something you didn’t apply to win,” said Gregory. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
“Fraudsters (usually) are not targeting specific people or specific groups. They reach out to anyone and everyone they can in hopes someone falls for it. They are very sophisticated. These aren’t untrained people … They copy websites, they copy legitimate businesses to appear real. They’re very sophisticated.”
Gregory reported that MHPS deals with fraud concerns daily, but hasn’t noticed an overall increase throughout the Holidays; rather the numbers of frauds reported in Medicine Hat have remained relatively constant throughout the year.
“I don’t think there’s any shame in being a victim to this,” said Gregory. He encourages anyone who believes themselves to be a victim of fraud or is concerned about a possible fraudulent situation to contact MHPS.
“If you have concerns, reach out to other people – friends, loved ones – or call the police service and run the situation by us and we can identify whether it’s something fraudulent or whether it’s legitimate … What we want is to prevent (scams) as much as possible, to save our citizens’ money … That’s the only way we can stay on top of the trends and work as a community to prevent them.”
For concerns related to fraud or possible fraud, contact MHPS through their non-emergency number at 403-529-8481.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News