Scammers, fraudsters and phones, oh my!
Senior Project Manager, TELUS Wise
It may seem like the oldest trick in the book, but phone scams continue to be on the rise as fraudsters use new tactics and get increasingly creative. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports that as of June 30, 2021, there were 28,517 victims of fraud with over 105 million dollars in losses this year alone.
Phone scams on the rise
A lesser known scam that’s increasing in frequency is the delayed disconnect. Fraudsters target individuals with a home phone and call posing as the credit card fraud department. They don't ask for personal information, but ask the person to hang up and contact the number on the back of their credit card to discuss further.
Naturally, individuals contact their financial provider immediately. What they don't realize is that the initial call hasn't fully disconnected. The fraudster is still on the line, playing a pre-recorded dial tone. When the victim dials the number, they do not connect with their legitimate credit card company - instead they are unknowingly connected to another person involved in the scam. If the scam goes as planned, victims end up sharing their credit card number, CVC or other private information. If you receive a call on your home phone asking you to contact your financial institution, it’s recommended you wait 10 minutes or longer before calling back or alternatively use a cell phone to contact your bank.
When it comes to phone scams, you should also be wary of unknown callers from foreign countries. Fraudsters are using robocalls to dial numbers but only let it ring once. This scam preys on human curiosity and if the individual calls the number back it is a premium rate phone number that may result in additional charges on their phone bill. Unlike a normal call, part of the call charge is paid to the service provider of the premium number.
Other common phone scams include:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN) scams: a person is advised that their SIN is linked to a fraudulent account or criminal activity and asked to confirm their SIN or other personal information, resulting in identity theft
- Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Service Canada scams: a person is advised that they have outstanding taxes owed. This CRA article explains how you can ensure a caller claiming to be from the CRA is legitimate and not a scammer
- Phone scams targeting the Asian community: a person receives an urgent message from the Beijing Police, INTERPOL or Chinese consulate demanding payment, or a call that asks for personal information in order to complete delivery of a package sent to you
Many of these scams are threatening in nature, indicating that you’ll be arrested, fined or even deported if you do not speak to the caller immediately or action their requests. The scammers may pressure you into verifying personal information or sending copies of your ID or passport, or demand payment via money order, pre‐paid credit cards,gift cards and even Bitcoin.
Preventing unwanted calls
Many phone scams use “call spoofing” to mislead victims and trick you into answering your phone. This refers to the process of changing the Caller ID information that is displayed when a call is made - either to disguise the number they're calling from and/or display a number you’re used to getting calls from. The number may look like a business, a contact or very similar to your own number. Technology that enables call spoofing is readily available; do not assume that phone numbers appearing on your call display are accurate.
To avoid “call spoofing” and help prevent unwanted robo-calls, take advantage of the call control features offered by your home phone or mobile device carrier. You can typically find information about such features by doing a Google search. If you are a TELUS subscriber you can learn more here: Call control for mobile devices explained, and Home phone Call control explained.
Top tips from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) to protect yourself:
- If a call does not seem right, hang up
- No legitimate institution will threaten you over the telephone
- Never provide personal information over the phone to an unknown caller
- If you provide personal information or suspect you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact Equifax and TransUnion to place fraud alerts on your accounts
If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report it online at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.
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Visit telus.com/WiseOnlineSecurity to learn more.