What should be done to stop scam phone calls?

Canadians have been experiencing an influx of scam calls, causing frustrations with telecom companies, government agencies and law enforcement to increase, with demands to stop these fraudsters.

What is the scam?

CBC News discovered that fraudsters have been “spoofing” phone numbers from federal government departments, or police, to scam Canadians. 

The calls have included fraudsters saying that individuals are in legal trouble, owe the government money, have had their social insurance numbers compromised or have been a victim of a crime.

Where are these calls coming from?

On Nov. 17, New Delhi police reveals that 32 people had been arrested from a call centre that had been scamming Canadians out of money through fraudulent phone calls related to social insurance numbers.

Police in India’s capital said they busted a “swanky international cheating scam call centre” called CyberCell, which has now been shut down.

“It was learnt that they are cheating innocent peoples based in abroad (Canada) on the false pretext of saving them from non-existing Social Insurance Number (SIN) violations,” the statement reads.

What are government agencies and police doing to stop these scams?

The Canadian Revenue Agency has been warning Canadians to be more cautious of these scams.

The government department’s website includes examples of sample telephone scam calls, including various voicemails that are often left instructing individuals to return the call and disclose personal information.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has also alerted that the toll free phone number for the department is spoofed, telling Canadians to not return the call.

Local RCMP divisions are also notifying Canadians that these scams, are occurring advising that individuals do their research before disclosing any personal information to someone over the phone.

What are telecom companies doing to combat this type of fraud?

Telecom companies are rolling out new technologies to block these calls, following a directive from the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) in 2018. It dictates that measures must be implemented by Dec. 19.

“We're testing the new universal network-level call blocking technology on our network and will be ready for full implementation by the CRTC's deadline,” Bell Media told CBC News, while Rogers said it will introduce Universal Call Blocking to stop calls that don’t align with international numbering systems.

How are Canadians responding?

People around the country have been taking to social media to share their annoyance with this spike in scam calls.

What should you do if you get a call from a fraudster?

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, less than 5 per cent of frauds are actually reported.

Scams can be reported to the department over the phone at 1-888-495-8501 or through the online reporting system.

Remember to gather all the information you can about the fraud so you can thoroughly report what occurred, including keeping a log of your phone calls.

If you did exchange money or personal information with a scammer, report the incident with local police and your financial institution as soon as possible.