Phone based scams have schemed millions out of Canadians. Such phone scams are targeting both Android, direct lines and iPhone users. The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has issued a public safety alert regarding a recent string of fraudulent phone calls which have already cost five Toronto-based victims a total of more than $5 million CAD.
However, phone scams can take various forms and often involve tactics such as impersonating government officials, financial institutions, or utility companies to trick individuals into providing personal information or making payments.
To stay informed and protect yourself from scams, consider the following general tips:
- Be Skeptical of Unknown Callers:
- If you receive a call from an unfamiliar number, especially if it’s an unexpected call from a government agency or a financial institution, be cautious. Legitimate organizations usually communicate through official channels.
- Verify Caller Identity:
- If someone claims to be from a government agency, utility company, or financial institution, ask for their name, title, and contact information. Hang up and independently verify their identity through official channels.
- Avoid Sharing Personal Information:
- Be cautious about sharing personal or financial information over the phone. Legitimate organizations won’t ask for sensitive information like your Social Insurance Number (SIN) or banking details over the phone.
- Check for Official Communications:
- If you’re uncertain about the legitimacy of a call, contact the organization directly using official contact information. Do not use contact details provided by the caller.
- Use Call Blocking and Filtering Services:
- Consider using call blocking and filtering apps on your smartphone to identify and block potential scam calls.
- Educate Yourself:
- Stay informed about common scams and tactics used by fraudsters. Many government websites provide information on current scams and how to protect yourself.
- Report Suspicious Calls:
- Report suspicious calls to your local authorities or the appropriate agency responsible for handling scams and fraud.
It’s crucial to note that scam tactics can evolve, and scammers often target individuals by exploiting current events or trends. To get the most recent information on phone scams targeting Canadians, check with relevant authorities such as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Additionally, local news sources may provide updates on recent scams in your area. Always prioritize your safety and verify the authenticity of any unexpected calls.
Recent Phone Based Scams
The prevalent phone scam
The victims are contacted by an individual posing as a retailer who informs them of “a fraud offence in progress which involves the use of their credit card account.” Victims are then advised to call either 911 emergency services or their financial institution to report the incident and protect their account. When the victim hangs up and attempts to contact one of the aforementioned institutions, the fraudster stays on the line and redirects them to a cohort, who impersonates a 911 call taker or bank employee and advises the victim to transfer their funds into a specific account for “safeguarding” until the incident can be resolved and actually doing so results in the scammers taking off with the money.
According to Toronto Police Service the exact details of the scheme vary from case-to-case, but there have been instances of the callers displaying some knowledge of the victim’s financial information. Toronto police also states that, based on evidence, the scam is being conducted nationwide and hundreds of thousands of individuals have already been targeted.
The one ring scam
The fraudsters behind the so-called “one ring scam” place calls that appear to originate overseas and hang up quickly. Curious victims return the anonymous missed call and inadvertently agree to fees that get piled onto their monthly bill.
According to Marian Henry with the Better Business Bureau of Manitoba and Northwest Ontario the charges, which are similar to ones you would receive for calling a 1-900 number, can cost hundreds of dollars per minute. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has said the calls have targeted people across Canada.
The callers are often greeted by waiting music or a pre-recorded message or online. When you do call back, it puts you through to a pay-per-call type of scenario where there’s a cost involved to initially be connected, as well as a cost-per-minute once you’re on that call.
The longer you are on the call obviously the more expensive the call could end up being, sometimes $400 a minute.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has said the calls have targeted people across Canada. The agency advises against returning missed calls from unfamiliar numbers and said it is important to check phone bills for unusual charges.
Blocking suspicious numbers is not enough to protect against fraud, and reminds people to be vigilant whenever an unknown party initiates contact over the phone.
The numbers tend to change all the time, so blocking the number isn’t really helping. You could receive 10 calls in a week and they could all be from different phone numbers.
The other phone scam that are prevalent in other countries
Many other phone scams are prevalent in various other countries where a caller will call on your Android and tell you that they are calling from government insurance companies and you need to provide your life, pension, health insurance numbers and other details. Then will ask you to provide the means you pay your premiums, and ask for your credit card number or bank account number. Then will tell you that government has launched a complaint department if you do not receive your premium receipt by mail. Will put down the phone after assuring you that a complaint has been registered as you are not receiving receipt by post mail. Soon you will find that money has been withdrawn from your bank.
In some instances the scammer may pose as speaking from NGO or a society doing welfare for Canadians and will ask you to fund the society and take your credit number to do the process and dupe you of your valuable money.
So what you need to be alert of ?
- Remember always that 911 is for emergencies where people or property are at risk.
- 9-1-1 call-takers will not forward your call to a police investigator.
- If you are in doubt about the security of your personal funds, attend any branch of your financial institution and make inquiries in person.
- Financial institutions will NEVER advise you to transfer funds to external accounts for security reasons.
- When contacted via phone by people claiming to be police officers, bank employees, or officials, take reasonable steps to ensure their claim is truthful.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious calls to your phones be it cell phone or home phones.