• James Armstrong

Hudson senior resident targeted by credit card thieves


PHOTO COURTESY PEXELS

Credit card fraudsters were on the prowl in Hudson recently targeting a senior citizen and using her card for cash withdrawals both locally and in Laval.

It came as a serious shock and surprise to Susan Mercer when she found out on Monday, February 5 that her credit card account was no longer functional and that someone had used it for a series of purchases and cash withdrawals at several automated banking machines (ATMs).

“I went to look for the card that day, couldn’t find it, so I reported it as lost or stolen to MasterCard,” said Mercer. The really frightening part of the ordeal was her realization that the thief or thieves had access to the Personal Identification Number (PIN) for the card.

“I have never given that to anyone, not even to a member of my family,” she told The Journal. The last time she remembered using the card was five days earlier while shopping at the IGA in Hudson Wednesday, January 31.

“I called them to see if they had found it, but they hadn’t,” said Mercer noting she hadn’t been pushed or jostled by anyone during that shopping trip.

“They (the thieves) started off immediately with a cash withdrawal in Hudson and the rest of the transactions took place in Laval. Most of it was on the 31st,” said Mercer.

Reporting to police

Although the credit card was replaced, Mercer was confronted with a variety of administrative problems when she attempted to activate it. “That was when I went to see Amanda Doran at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) in Hudson,” she said. With information provided by the bank regarding the amounts and locations of the various fraudulent transactions, Mercer reported the events to the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

“There was a very nice young woman from the SQ who came and took my statement,” said Mercer adding that the police, in the course of their investigation, would have access to the closed circuit video footage of the various fraudulent withdrawals of cash at ATMs in Hudson and Laval. In the end, the problems were resolved and Mercer was issued a functioning credit card.

“It was the stress of the situation and the feeling of being violated, that was the worst part,” she said.

Outwitting the fraudsters

BMO Assistant Branch Manager Amanda Doran was sympathetic to Mercer’s stolen card situation.

“I haven’t heard of a case like this before, in Hudson,” she told The Journal on Monday, February 26. “I don’t know how they gained access to the PIN but I do know there are many warnings out there about keeping your PIN covered when entering it into a machine,” she added noting that a four digit PIN needs to be difficult to guess and, similar to passwords, should be changed on a regular basis. Doran wasn’t aware of any recent trend in targeting seniors for credit card theft.

“I think the biggest ones for senior citizens to watch out for are the telephone scams,” she said referring to calls from fraudsters impersonating Canada Revenue Agents or the ‘Grandson Scheme’ where a caller pretends to be a grandchild in trouble, needing money immediately.

Mercer also noted the proliferation of online e-transfer scams indicating an individual will receive a transfer of money by following the enclosed web link. “People willingly hit the link and give the fraudsters all their information,” she said pointing out that, as a rule, if you are not expecting money to come in from someone, then it’s unlikely someone is sending you money. “You can always verify with your bank or the institution involved instead of clicking on the link,” she said.

A national problem

According to Fraud Facts 2017 published by the Competition Bureau of Canada, it is estimated that from January 2014 to December 2016, Canadians aged 60 to 79 lost almost $28 million to various scams. The document also says fraud is a crime that threatens every Canadian regardless of age, education or income and that it’s extremely important to report it to the authorities.

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. For more information, consult www.competitionbureau.gc.ca.

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