So it’s 7:00a.m. or 8:00 or 9:00 or any time; you’ve just climbed out of bed, plugged in the kettle to make your first “cuppa”. Consciousness is courting you through your morning fog, inviting you to engage your day… and the phone rings.
“Who can that be this early? (or whatever time of day)” you ask. Number is local, or some 800 number) so you maybe worry, certainly wonder, if it’s important. So you answer and wish you hadn’t.
An automated voice authoritatively commands you not to hang up, informs you they are the Canada Revenue Agency or RCMP or some other official government agency, and tells you your criminal case for tax fraud (or something similar) is going before the Grand Jury (yes, they do say that) unless you push a number on your phone to respond… and if you do respond you soon wish you hadn’t.
These are among many kinds of spoofing/spamming phone calls so many of us have received over the past few years, sometimes several times a day. They claim to be some official Canadian government agency, or they congratulate us for being a faithful airline customer or Hotel guest, and to win your reward just push a number on your phone, or phone back for your prize. Indeed it inevitably in an unpleasant reward/prize.
“Spoofing” is when fraudsters channel their number through someone else’s legitimate phone number so you don’t know who is actually calling or where from. The phone call is predatory and CBC News reports this fraud has bilked Canadians out of 24 million dollars from January to October 2019 alone. We’ve all received these calls. They’re intimidating, confusing, threatening, upsetting, and singularly unpleasant.
The CRTC (Canadian Radio/Television and Telecommunications Commission) has now required our telephone companies block these calls and implement technology to trace the actual origin of the fraudulent phone call. This is to be activated by September 2020. CBC reports that Bell and Rogers will implement call blocking technology. Telus is offering advanced filtering and call-management features. The Canadian Anti-fraud centre suggests this will not stop all these nuisance calls but will help.
How do you know it’s fraud and predation phoning you? The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre suggests:
- You hear an automated voice which directs you to push a button or number on your phone.
- The caller is authoritative, demanding, threatening, bullying, intimidating.
- The caller demands personal information or financial information.
- The caller asks for money in the form of gift cards, bitcoin etc (untraceable)
(Oh yes… if they tell you your criminal case is going before the Grand Jury? Canada doesn’t have Grand Juries)…
What do you do if you suspect a scam? The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre recommends:
- Hang up.
- Do not give personal information or financial information.
- DO NOT RETURN the phone call to any number the caller gives you.
- Report the call(s) to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (Phone: 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca The more calls reported, the better they can be tracked and addressed.
And if you have been caught in one of these scams you will likely feel embarrassed, angry, devastated. Don’t be shamed into hiding in silence. Report what happened to the RCMP. Your money likely won’t be recovered, but you will be pro-actively helping to limit these devastating scams. And let your faith community know if you are suffering as a result of being defrauded. Rev. Sharon and our Wardens are here for you.