Watch Out for Phone Fraud

Watch Out for Phone Fraud bb3 Nov 21, 2013

By Staff Writer

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Think you can't fall prey to a telephone scam? It's more common than you might imagine.

More than 14,000 people reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) that they were victims of fraud in 2012—and telephone solicitations were the most prevalent.

"It's a big mistake for consumers to think they can't be scammed," says Daniel Williams, senior call-taker supervisor for CAFC. "It can happen to anyone."

Bad Deals

Keep watch for two of the most popular telephone scams reported to CAFC:

  • Computer doom. "Microsoft" calls because they've detected issues on your computer. Give them remote access, and these scammers will disable your protection, do some damage, then voila! "They're knights in shining armor who can repair the damage—for a fee," Williams says.
  • Fake interest rates. You receive a phone call from your bank or credit card company letting you know that for $695 (or a similarly high fee) you can secure lifetime lower interest rates on your credit cards. The problem is, the call isn't from your bank, Williams says.

Good Ideas

Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. To further protect yourself:

  • Watch for tricks. If the call starts out as an automated notification that you've won something (say, free airline miles) then turns into a sales pitch (for a time share vacation, for instance), it's probably a scam.
  • Do your research. Your caller has an amazing offer for you, but you must act now. Don't respond to high-pressure tactics. Instead, hop online and search for a description of the offer plus "scam" and see what comes up. "You'll hit very similar stories quite readily," Williams says.
  • Call the company. Just told that you won $2.5 million from Publishers Clearing House? Before you agree to pay a fee to get your cheque, hang up, look up the company's number yourself and call directly to confirm.
  • Just ask. Your "grandson" calls and says, "Shh! Don't tell Mom and Dad! I'm in Montreal and need bail money fast." Before you wire him thousands of dollars, call his house to check out the story. Odds are, he’s home watching TV, not stuck in jail somewhere.

More Information

Looking for more fraud-protection tips? Try:

If you are a victim of fraud, report the incident to your local police and notify CAFC. And talk with your State Farm® agent about safeguarding your personal and financial information with Identity Theft Insurance.