When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s the worst telephone problems were wrong numbers, kids playing tricks with possibly the odd harrassing call. The funniest one my Mom, Dad and I received was from someone calling for a taxi. We weren’t a taxi company but we had almost the same phone number as the cab company, except for one number. The taxi calls were annoying but not dangerous.
Not so nowadays. Telephone fraud is running rampant. Sometimes I think it gets forgotten with all the online scams and frauds. But phone fraud is real and sometimes connected to your computer.
We seniors have to be especially vigilant as we are prime targets for these fraudsters. I am a former journalist with a jaded suspicious outlook on life, so I am vigilant. And angry when these buggers call me. Often it is a recorded message – even when you mistakenly pick it up and don’t let it go to voice mail.
The past week it has been two calls in particular – coming repeatedly during each day.
One is the fake Canada Revenue Agency call that if you don’t call them back you could be arrested. If you call the number they will want you to pay thousands of dollars and they use the arrest threat. I haven’t called them back because I had heard of this scam before. In fact my friend across the street was getting them last week too (do they target by geographic region?) and after four calls he phoned the Toronto Police Services. So beware calls from this number with the message to call the same number back 855-888-5927. This is not the CRA. I haven’t called the police yet because my online research shows they and other regulatory organizations are well aware of this fraud and this number.
The second call (again recorded) claims to be from the CIBC (bank), a Mississauga, Ontario branch and the caller (a woman) even has the nerve to state “this is not a scam.” But the kicker, what alerted me was the start of the call where it mentions the name of the person they are contacting. It wasn’t my name and the name was inserted into the recorded message. They gave a reference number (8581721) you are supposed to use when you call them back at 866-751-2167. I didn’t call them back but I did put a complaint (online) into the National Do Not Call list. I also finally put my name and number on their list for those not wishing to be called by Telemarketers – although there are some exceptions of who can still call. And it takes a month to be effective – telemarketers have to update their lists you know.
Third one I’ve been phoned on is the Microsoft computer fraud. First off it is not Microsoft doing this – Microsoft may be guilty of other things, but not this one. I believe the way this fraud/scam works is that after the caller says he is from Microsoft, he tells you there is a problem with your computer and you have to give him your password. I didn’t let the fellow get any farther than stating he was calling from Microsoft. The first one I called him on his scam and he hung up. The second one stayed on the line a bit longer saying “It’s Microsoft.” Not likely. Microsoft doesn’t call you. I finally told him if he didn’t stop calling I’d call the police and I hung up.
What can you do when you get a suspicious phone call?
Never give out any personal information, including passwords.
If you are suspicious, you can hang up – but if you can get their phone number that is even better. Then you can go to http://findwhocallsyou.com/ and type in the phone number. Or chances are there are many more who have complained about the same number. Scroll down their numbers and click on the comments. The fake CRA one is listed.
Call your police department.
If in Canada, there is the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre run jointly by the RCMP, OPP and Federal Competition Bureau.
Get on a national do not call list.
Don’t answer the phone, but take note of the number and time of call. Chances are the most insistent fraudsters will leave a message in your voice mail.
More information on what to do and what not to do is at the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre
And yes, details about the tax scam is on their site. So are details about other current scams – phone and online and who to report to about them. There is information on how to contact them as well, to report a fraud instance, online or call 1-888-495-8501. The website is updated daily.
Unfortunately we can’t go back to simpler phone times. And if I sound like an old you-know-what longing for past days, you got that right. Our world today is not really nice in many ways. So be vigilant while trying to enjoy what is good – like books, gardens, food, friends and family (not necessarily in that order).
Only Child Writes