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A Scam for Everything, Even Traffic Tickets

Shadowy menace lurks behind victim of traffic ticket phishing scam

Scammers are at it again. This time, they’re using traffic tickets to suck you in.

This past November, several news outlets reported on e-mails that Calgarians received from scammers claiming to be from the Calgary Police Service.[1] According to the reports, these scammers said they were sending traffic tickets via an e-mail attachment and instructed victims to open the attachment in order to view the ticket and pay the fine.

In reality, this was nothing more than a phishing scam which was targeting way more than just Calgary. The same scam hit major cities across Canada, targeting a wide range of unsuspecting Canadians in the hopes of swindling some quick cash and/or valuable personal information.

Yet while scams like this seem painfully obvious to those of us reading or hearing about them, they can be much harder to spot for people who are in the midst of being targeted. For these unfortunate people, the truth doesn’t show itself until after the fraudsters are finished.

Because this scam has become more common and hit so many people, we here at Calgary’s Traffic Ticket Agent thought it could help to clarify how the authorities distribute traffic tickets and to give some tips on things you can do to avoid this type of scheme in the future.

Remember: Cops never e-mail traffic tickets. Not ever.

There are only 2 ways in which the police distribute traffic tickets:

  1. In person
  2. Mailing it to your home through Canada Post

There is not a single Canadian province or territory in which the police are allowed to e-mail traffic tickets to you – not even Newfoundland.

The authorities will never e-mail you a traffic ticket. They will either pull you over then and there to hand you a ticket or they will have recorded your traffic violation and will send the ticket to your home address using our trusty national postal service.

Again – under no circumstances will they e-mail, text, fax, or pigeon courier your ticket!

Spotting the scheme.

Yet while there are absolutely deceptions out there that seek only to part you with your money, just as many are seeking something far more valuable from you – you’re personal information.

These schemes come in a plethora of different shapes and sizes, but will all share at least 1 of the following 2 traits:

1. Try to get money from you.
Whether it’s a fake traffic ticket in your e-mail’s inbox, a random plea for money from a relative, or the promise of getting more money in exchange for “lending” the hoaxers some funds up front, these crooks will in some way ask you for money.

As soon as they ask (if not before), be sure to look deeper into what they’re asking. Does it seem strange in any way?

• Tip: Take a step back and consider the request more carefully. Ignore any sense of urgency – people in a rush make poor choices, and con artists take full advantage of this.

If you’ve taken a closer look and you’re still not sure, contact someone who can help you like the police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

2. Try to get personal information from you.
These types of scams are called “phishing” and their objective is to get your personal information. This information can be anything from usernames and passwords to bank account numbers and SINs.

In a way, phishing scams are more insidious because the objective isn’t always as obvious as being asked for money. They can also look and sound remarkably genuine, making it hard for even the savviest target to see through.

• Tip: The simple answer to avoiding phishing schemes is to never share your personal information with strangers, especially when prompted via e-mail, phone, or text message. Also be highly suspicious of any website or phone call that requires you to enter sensitive information such as your social insurance number or banking information.

Scams are plentiful and always evolving.

E-mail scams are big business – both for the scammers and for those who fight them. But swindling people out of their hard-earned cash is nothing new and deceiving people for personal profit is as old as humanity itself. Now, however, thanks to the miracle of the World Wide Web, fraudsters and phonies have an entirely new medium through which to access their unfortunate targets.

When it comes to internet scams, or even phone and in-person cons, the best defense is a strong offense. As in, don’t be afraid to ask “offensive” questions and to be on the offensive when a website, e-mail, or phone call starts asking for your sensitive information or money.

And remember: A little bit of caution can really go a long way so when in doubt, don’t. You could be saving yourself a huge headache down the road!

Have any questions, or maybe you got a traffic ticket that needs defending? Don’t hesitate to contact us for help with your Calgary traffic ticket woes.

 

[1] http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/email-scam-targets-calgarians-with-phony-traffic-tickets-1.2821657

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