In today’s uncertain economic times, many Albertans are keeper a closer eye on their wallets. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of fraud schemes trying to get people to part with their money. Although the province’s economic performance is expected to improve as the global economy recovers, individuals should still be aware of the potential risks of becoming a victim of fraud.
Fraud is a serious problem that accounts for billions of dollars in stolen cash, property and credit cards worldwide. It can also take its toll on a person’s credit rating, finances and personal life. According to Statistics Canada, Alberta fraud rates are 42 per cent higher than the Canadian average and Alberta also has the highest rate of fraud-related crime charges in the country. A 2008 study by McMaster University determined that identity theft has affected 1.7 million Canadians, and to resolve the related issues, victims spent $150 million and 20 million hours – that’s a cost of roughly $88 and just over 12 hours per person.
Fraud Prevention Month is recognized in 24 countries around the world and throughout March, activities across the province will remind Albertans to take some important steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud and to ‘Recognize it. Report it. Stop it.’ Regional Fraud Prevention Month launch events were held this morning in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
In an effort to increase awareness, law enforcement, government ministries and other organizations have formed the Alberta Fraud Awareness Coalition. The Coalition partners include: the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner; Service Alberta; Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security; the Bank of Canada; Canada Post; the RCMP; the Medicine Hat Police Service; the Lethbridge Regional Police Service; the Calgary Police Service; the Edmonton Police Service; and the Alberta Motor Association.
For more information on fraud-related crimes visit www.ama.ab.ca/fraud and www.servicealberta.ca, and for information about a public shredding event in your area visit www.ama.ab.ca/shredding. If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact your local police or call Phone Busters, the Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre toll-free from anywhere in North America, at 1-888-495-8501. For more information about booking a fraud prevention session in their community, the public can contact the AMA Crime Prevention Coordinator at (780) 430-5431.