OUR VIEW: Just ask, to avoid scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And once a person and their money are parted, it’s exceedingly difficult to get it back.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s an expression worth remembering now — and as we get closer to the busy shopping season, a time when what we might receive at Christmas starts to cloud our minds. In fact, it’s something everyone, of any age, should have etched into their brains, as incidents of fraud and scams press on, seemingly unabated.

That may sound a tad harsh or pessimistic.

It should be a good thing if someone steps up and wants to hand over thousands of dollars — or a bridge — for seemingly no reason. Or at least for no reason a person would reasonably expect to have anything to do with them. Unfortunately, windfalls like that are usually pipe dreams.

Whether it’s greed, a simple feeling of not wanting to upset people or for some other reason, folks fall for scams all the time. And so, the scammers keep calling, emailing and writing, hoping for a response — just enough to encourage the behaviour.

And once a person and their money are parted, it’s exceedingly difficult for the authorities to get it back.

Yet, police and financial institutions fight hard to try to prevent scams and the people who run them from taking advantage of people. Even so, we cannot rely on them. Individuals must be on guard — for the day will come when someone will try to weasel our hard-earned cash from our pockets.

When that happens, and the whole thing makes you curious or uncomfortable, just ask questions. Ask them who they are. Ask for their phone number. Ask for their boss. And then ask to phone them back.

And if you are still not feeling good about it, just hang up. It’s the equivalent of walking away from panhandlers on the street.

Police continually tell us the best way to find out if something is a scam or not, is to call the agency purported to be offering the windfall. Contact them directly and ask if the offer is on the up and up. Most times, if it’s a bank or Canada Revenue Agency, they’ll tell you it’s a scam and you should ignore it.

There are people out there who want to separate us from our money for nasty reasons. It’s up to us to know the difference between them and the legitimately good people out there. Sometimes, all it takes to be sure is to ask.