How to protect yourself from being scammed

Have you received a call from Canada Revenue Agency or other government agencies saying that they will arrest you if you don’t call them back?

This is a typical scam call. Receiving a direct call is one of the main ways you can be targeted by scammers. They claim to be from government agencies and threaten dire consequences if you don’t call them back. When you do call, they will ask for money. Mass Marketing Fraud doesn’t discriminate. Everyone is a target.

The chart below shows data from the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC), and how tens of millions of dollars each year are lost to fraud.

Data based on this year from Jan.1 to June 30, 2019

According to this data, 121 people encountered fraud incidents every day and on average each person was defrauded by about $5,500. However, that is only what is reported to police.

Lisanne Roy Beauchamp, an operations supervisor of CAFC said, “It is estimated that the total number of complaints, victims and dollar loss presented in this report represents less than 5% of the total number of actual victims.”

According to the official website of the Canadian government, their employees will:

  • Never ask people to deposit money into a personal account 
  • Never ask people to transfer money through a private money transfer service
  • Never threaten you
  • Never use a free email such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo Mail to contact you
  • Never ask you for any sort of payment by telephone

Some Chinese students have also received a phone call or a voice mail from someone claiming to be from the Chinese Embassy. Danica Tu, one of these students, says the call she received said she had been involved in a domestic case and needed to call them back as soon as possible. According to the Chinese Embassy of Canada, they would make this type of notification by phone.

So how do you protect yourself?

  1. Don’t answer any unknown calls. 

Beauchamp, said, “If the call isn’t from a family member, a friend or a call you’re waiting for; we recommend that you let the call go to voicemail. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message. If there are any requests for personal information or financial information, we recommend you end the call. Wait a few minutes and callback a trusted number to confirm if there are any notes on your existing file or a matter that needs to be addressed.”

2. Try to Google the phone number.

If this number is a public number of a company or organization, Google will tell you which company it is. If Google can’t find it, you may also see other people leave a message saying that this number has also been calling them, then this might be a scam call. Don’t call back the number.

3. See where the call is coming from.

A staff member of Fido who did not want to be named, says when each call comes in, you can see the phone showing where the location of the call is. This is important because if you have never been to this place, you should not answer the call.

Location of a phone call will show under the number

If you need to report an incident of fraud you can call CAFC by this number, 1-888-495-8501.