Disasters bring out phone scammers

City of Vernon Community Policing Office warns people to beware of calls soliciting funds for relief

Rachael Zubick

People want to help out when disasters strike.

At the same time, there are people who want to take advantage of people’s kindness and generosity.

The City of Vernon Community Policing Office is asking residents to do due diligence should they get phoned asking for donations to help victims of B.C.’s wildfires or hurricanes and flooding in the United States.

“People have to be really careful who they are dealing with and do their homework,” said Rachael Zubick, community policing office coordinator. “When we have massive disasters, people want to help but there are also people who prey on heart strings.”

Zubick said while there haven’t been local reports of people trying to scam North Okanagan residents for donations, it has been happening around the province.

“Phishing scams and telephone solicitations will increase during disasters,” she said.

If you get phoned by a person claiming to represent an organization looking for funds, be sure to ask a lot of questions of the caller.

“If your questions are not answered appropriately, say you’ll call them back after doing your research,” said Zubick. “If you really want to help out an organization, do your homework.”

Anybody who feels they have been scammed or tried to be scammed can call the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre at 705-494-3182.

The City of Vernon Community Policing Office will host a free seminar on frauds, cons, scams and personal safety on Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Schubert Centre.

“It’s about fraud awareness and everything you need to know about protecting yourself against fraud,” said Zubick. “And even though it’s geared for older audiences, the seminar is good for anybody and everybody to attend.”

If you’re interested in attending, please register through the community policing office at 250-550-7840.