We have all been getting calls that come up on our telephone display as a local number or as ‘Canada Revenue Agency’, ‘Border Services’ or ‘RCMP’. When we answer, the recording or person on the line says there is an urgent matter and a scary, dire situation!!!! Con-artists can now clone telephone numbers of real government agencies and trusted businesses when they call you to make the call coming in on the call display look real.
We have also been receiving simple emails that that says something like “Hey, do you have a minute”? It is a test to see if your email is active and if you respond, they will try and engage you in an urgent matter and a dire, scary situation!!! Con-artists know how to make emails look like they are coming from friends, trusted businesses and government agencies as well.
The caller or emailer is meant to scare us into doing whatever we can to resolve the problem and it all sounds very real, very urgent and the consequences are terrible for us or our family. The scenarios vary, but the usual story is that our bank account or social insurance number has been compromised. It is going to affect our credit or ability to travel. It is a simple mistake and easy to fix but if we don’t do it now, the police will come and arrest us or the CRA will access our bank accounts and take all our money. The people on the line are highly trained and sound very, very convincing.
The catch is – it isn’t real. Canada Revenue, the bank or credit union, the border services department and the RCMP would never call you or email you for these sorts of things. They cannot do that. And they would never require you personally to do something about this. They certainly would never require you to take out money and send it somewhere. They would not need remote access to your computer. They certainly would not need you to buy gift cards or put money in a bitcoin machine at a gas station. And if there was a problem with your bank account, taxes or social insurance number you would never need to keep it a secret and ask you to help fix it yourself.
If you are getting these calls or emails – hang up or delete the email. If you are unsure, and these callers make the situation sound very real and convincing so it is not your fault if it feels like something that might be real, go in person to your bank and speak to the teller or manager about what is happening. Explain the situation and tell them about what the caller is asking you to do. You can also call the non-emergency line at the RCMP in your area (Kamloops 250-828-3000) and explain what is happening and what you are being asked to do. You can also talk to your family or close friends.
Whatever you do, do not keep your fears a secret and do not hand over any money or buy any gift cards. Also, never give someone remote access to your computer or online banking or investments.
You need to protect your hard-earned money. Retirees are often the target of these calls and emails, because they often hold investments and have cash readily available. Retirees are also nice people and want to do the right thing. Successful con-artists know how to sound official and professional. They know many retirees worry about their retirement savings and they do not want any negative involvement with CRA, the police or border agencies.
Many people do not report these frauds because they are embarrassed that they were convinced by it or are confused about what has happened. If you think this may have already happened to you, or is happening to you now, reach out now to the RCMP or to your bank directly, in case there is still something that can be done to get your money back or prevent it from happening again.