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No embarrassment in being scammed! Credit Union wants residents to arm themselves with knowledge

Diane Larouche Ellard, Marketing Coordinator of the Biggar and District Credit Union, is hoping people report fraud when it occurs, and that they never feel embarrassed. We live in an increasingly online world, and equipping ourselves with knowledge is often the best defence against financial predators.
“We don’t understand how much fraud there is out there, and how easy it is for the criminals,” Larouche Ellard explains.
Financial institutions can save you from losing your hard-earned money, but in some cases they only go so far. Arming yourselves with knowledge is key, she adds.
“There are tools we are developing and implementing that are great, and we wish people would use them more,” Larouche Ellard says, pointing to Credit Union specific products like “Alerts”, an online guard against account fraud, or “Lock’N’Block”, an anti-fraud tool for your Member Card which allows you to - through your smartphone - lock or halt all activity on your account. Many banking institutions have similar tools, and like the Credit Union, they monitor accounts for suspicious activity.
In most cases, the sooner you act the better, she says, adding that many are embarrassed by “being had” when they shouldn’t be ashamed.
“There should be no shame because it’s not their fault. It’s so prevalent. The more people report it, the better. Sometimes there are ways we can recover the money,” Larouche Ellard says. “If you have a question, whether you are a member of the Credit Union or not, if this doesn’t seem or does seem like a valid offer, come and see us because we’ve seen it all and we will run it through our ‘sniff test’.”
Scams are constantly evolving, but Larouche Ellard says you still see the “old classics” - the Grandma scam, the Nigerian Prince - taking peoples hard earned cash. She adds that of thousands of phone calls a crook makes, it only takes one successful call to make their scam profitable.
“They are trolling out a hundred thousand [scams]. If one per cent respond - or less than one per cent! - they’re still making money,” she says. “Fraudsters will only do what works . . . they have no conscience.”
Larouche Ellard says there are things to look for: typos, poor grammar, incorrect or odd referencing of a person. Generally, if it seems strange, it is probably a scam. To be sure, bring it in to the Credit Union, contact the police - do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your money. If it is legit, the added attention and diligence will be understandable to legitimate organizations or government departments.
“You can give anything 24 hours. Sleep on it. Go and talk to somebody, a relative, a financial institution - doesn’t have to be us, but we welcome coming in whether they are our members or not. Talk to the RCMP. [Scams] impacts our whole community. Yes, it may be embarrassing to ask. It’s a whole lot worse if something has happened to you.
“There is no harm in just asking,” Larouche Ellard stresses.
If it’s too good to be true - or too bad to be true - then it probably is. Trust your instincts, then back it up with solid information from your bank or police.
“We encourage people to just stop, take a breath, and get some advice,” Larouche Ellard encourages.
An “Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention” session will be held April 10 at the Lionel Jones Library at the Town Office from 5:30 to 7 p.m.