Recognizing Fraudulent Phone Calls

If you have experienced financial loss due to fraudulent activity or a scam please file a report with your local police department. If you want to report a suspicious activity or pass along information please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

How Can I Recognize a Scam?

  1. It sounds too good to be true - You’ve won a big prize in a contest that you don’t recall entering. You’re offered a once-in-a-lifetime investment that offers a huge return. You’re told that you can buy into a lottery ticket pool that cannot lose.
  2. You must pay or you can’t play - “You’re a winner!” but you must agree to send money to the caller in order to pay for delivery, processing, taxes, duties or some other fee in order to receive your prize. Sometimes the caller will even send a courier to pick up your money.
  3. You must give them your private financial information - The caller asks for all your confidential banking and/or credit card information. Honest businesses do not require these details unless you are using that specific method of payment.
  4. Will that be cash… or cash? Often criminal telemarketers ask you to send cash or a money order, rather than a cheque or credit card. Cash is untraceable and can’t be cancelled. And, crooks also have difficulty in establishing themselves as merchants with legitimate credit card companies.
  5. The caller is more excited than you are - The crooks want to get you excited about this “opportunity” so that you won’t be able to think clearly.
  6. It’s the manager calling - The person calling claims to be a government official, tax officer, banking official, lawyer or some other person in authority. The person calls you by your first name and asks you a lot of personal or lifestyle questions (like how often do your grown children visit you).
  7. The stranger calling wants to become your best friend - Criminals love finding out if you’re lonely and willing to talk. Once they know that, they’ll try to convince you that they are your friend – after all, we don’t normally suspect our friends of being crooks.
  8. It’s a limited opportunity and you’re going to miss out - If you are pressured to make a big purchase decision immediately, it’s probably not a legitimate deal. Real businesses or charities will give you a chance to check them out or think about it.
  9. What can I do to protect myself? Remember, legitimate telemarketers have nothing to hide

Remember, you can Stop Phone Fraud – Just Hang Up!

If you’re in doubt, it’s wise to ask the advice of a close friend or relative, or even your banker. Rely on people you can trust.

Criminals will say anything to part you from your hard-earned money. Be cautious.

You have the right to check out any caller by requesting written information, a call back number, references and time to think over the offer.

Legitimate business people will be happy to provide you with that information. After all, they want the “bad guys” out of business too. Always be careful about providing confidential personal information, especially banking or credit card details, unless you are certain the company is legitimate. And, if you have doubts about a caller, your best defence is to simply hang up. It’s not rude – it’s smart.

Worried About a Friend or Relative?

Watch for any of these warning signs:
  • a marked increase in the amount of mail with too-good-to-be-true offers
  • frequent calls offering get-rich-quick schemes or valuable awards, or numerous calls for donations to unfamiliar charities
  • a sudden inability to pay normal bills
  • requests for loans or cash
  • banking records that show cheques or withdrawals made to unfamiliar companies
  • secretive behaviour regarding phone calls.
If you suspect that someone you know has fallen prey to a deceptive telemarketer, don’t criticize them for being naïve. Encourage that person to share their concerns with you about unsolicited calls or any new business or charitable dealings. Assure them that it is not rude to hang up on suspicious calls. Keep in mind that criminal telemarketers are relentless in hounding people – some victims report receiving 5 or more calls a day, wearing down their resistance. And, once a person has succumbed to this ruthless fraud, their name and number will likely go on a “sucker list”, which is sold from one crook to another.

For Your Protection

  • Do not rush into something involving your money or property.
  • Never give your credit card numbers out over the phone, nor any other information unless you are absolutely sure of who you are dealing with.
  • Be wary of something-for-nothing or get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Never sign a contract until you and your lawyer, bank, or other expert has thoroughly read it.
  • Never turn over large sums of cash to anyone, especially a stranger, no matter how promising the deal looks.
  • Do not hesitate to check the credentials of a salesman or public official.
  • Report all suspicious offers to the police immediately, before the swindler leaves town in search of other victims.
  • Arrange for incoming cheques to be sent directly to your bank.