Haldimand OPP is reminding the public to never provide personal information to anyone soliciting over the telephone or internet after receiving fraud complaints from local residents in Haldimand County.

Since January 1, OPP has responded to nearly 40 fraud complaints from local residents. In most of the reports filed, complainants said they were called by someone alleging to be from a financial institution, bank or the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) who were asking for money to be transferred.

Some complainants were defrauded of money, some provided personal information, while some realized they were being scammed before they provided any information.

OPP reminds the public that CRA will not solicit personal information over the telephone or internet, nor will they ask you to send money.

Fraudsters will falsely identify themselves as government employees or financial institution representatives and often target the elderly to solicit banking and other personal information, even telling victims that they could face criminal charges for outstanding funds they claim are owed to the government.

One tactic used is there is notification by phone or email from the “CRA” claiming there is a refund pending. In order for the recipient to receive the refund they must provide personal information.

If you did not initiate the call or contact, don’t give out any personal information. Give yourself some time to research the agency that contacted you. You may have been a target.

Every year, thousands of Canadians fall victim to fraud amassing losses in the millions of dollars. Regardless of age, gender and location, everyone can take basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud.

In most cases, the CRA will use registered mail to contact consumers – not email or phone. Contact the CRA directly to confirm you owe back taxes or are entitled to a refund. The CRA would never request payment by money service business, iTunes gift cards or bitcoin.

Never provide personal information over the telephone, by text or email. Any documents containing personal information that need to be discarded should always be shredded or destroyed rather than just put in recycling or garbage.

If you’ve shared personal information, contact Equifax and Trans Union to place fraud alerts on your account.  If you’ve shared banking information with the scammers, contact your financial institution to place alerts on your account.

For more information on fraud, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit http://www.antifraudcentre.ca

The OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre partners – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Competition Bureau of Canada – are sharing tips and links to various resources online to help the public recognize, reject and report fraud on social media by using the hashtags #DontBeAVictim and #OPPtips.