Cst. Paul Mittelsteadt, community policing officer for Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, said local RCMP are currently dealing with “a huge uptick” in complaints involving scams. (Black Press Media File)

Cst. Paul Mittelsteadt, community policing officer for Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, said local RCMP are currently dealing with “a huge uptick” in complaints involving scams. (Black Press Media File)

Significant rise in scam complaints received by Vancouver Island RCMP detachment

Sidney/North Saanich community policing officer offers a variety of ways to avoid being scammed

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP are dealing with “a huge uptick” in complaints involving scams, according to the detachment’s community policing officer.

Const. Paul Mittelsteadt said the detachment receives calls daily about a range of scams.

“It’s growing in nature (and) we have made it a priority to educate the public on what to look out for,” he said. Many people do not know what to do when approached by scammers, he added. “Many people freeze.”

To help prevent frauds, local police have stepped up public messaging on the Saanich Peninsula. Mittelsteadt recently contributed a piece to Sidney’s Town Talk newsletter, identifying several categories of scams – telemarketing fraud, identity theft, charity scam, medical fraud, prize scam and business investment opportunity.

RELATED: Town of Sidney warns of phone scam mimicking municipal phone number, message

On North Saanich’s website, he offers three tips to the public to avoid scams.

First, individuals who feel on the verge of being victimized should take a step back and reach out to a trusted person or an official source for advice, Mittelsteadt wrote.

Second, people should not respond to unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls that make urgent or coercive demands. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is usually fake,” he said.

Third, individuals should not feel pressured into providing personal information or money.

RELATED: North Saanich senior in 80s loses $88,000 to cyberfraud

Writing in Town Talk, Mittelsteadt said individuals should follow four steps if they suspect they or someone else has become a victim of identity theft or fraud, or if they are unwilling to provide personal or information.

They are: contact local police; contact financial institutions; contact Canada’s two national credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on credit reports; and always report identity theft and fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

While scams have been a historical part of the criminal repertoire, Canada’s large and growing number of seniors makes them a prime target.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused a spike, as more than 9,700 Canadians reported falling victim to a scam between March 6, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021. One such fraud is the so-called phishing scams, which involve requests for personal information by email and text that look like they are from the Government of Canada. Federal departments and agencies do not solicit personal information via emails or texts.

RELATED: Sidney business owner warns of power-disconnection scam


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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