January 22nd, 2021

Gov’t imposter scams preying on Canadians

By Submitted Article on August 14, 2020.

Submitted by the Better

Business Bureau

A BBB investigative study found that complaints about fake calls from Service Canada increased in the first six months of 2020. >

Scammers use fear and intimidation to trick victims into turning over personal information or money, often in the form of gift cards. According to the study scams have become more diverse and more sophisticated. Many scammers have taken advantage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by posing as the Public Health Agency of Canada, our local Alberta Health Services >officials, and CRA representatives who expedite economic impact payments, or contact tracers employed with provincial government. >

In many cases, scammers insist they are law enforcement officers and threaten to arrest people immediately if they do not pay money, usually with gift cards. They may tell consumers their Social Insurance Number (SIN) has been compromised, associated with a crime, and may threaten to deport recent immigrants or arrest people for improper filing of their taxes.

Other scam callers lure victims with the promise of a “free” government grant, which they claim will be awarded if the victim pays a fee with a gift card or prepaid debit card. In reality, there is no grant. >

BBB offers the following tips if you are ever contacted by an imposter:

– Be wary of telephone calls claiming to be from the government. No matter how official they seem or even how scary the situation sounds – hang up. The longer you stay on the line, the more likely you are to become a victim. If the government needs to reach you, they will typically send you official documentation in the mail first. >

– Do not wire money, purchase gift cards or make any payments. The Government of Canada does not accept payment over the telephone for any reason. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a red flag.

– Resist intimidation tactics. Never share or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or social insurance number with anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Scammers can use your information to commit identity theft – charging your existing credit cards, opening new credit accounts, writing fraudulent cheques, or taking out loans in your name.

– Contact the government agency directly. If you feel pressured for immediate action by a caller, hang up the phone and contact the government agency directly to confirm if there is actually a problem with your file. >Visit http://www.canada.ca/

en/contact.html to access the Government of Canada contact directory.

How to complain about government impostor scams:

– Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: >In Canada, contact CAFC about all government impersonation scams at 1-888-495-8501 or >online.

– Contact your cellphone carrier, >which may offer >free services >such as scam call identification and blocking, ID monitoring, a second phone number to give out to businesses so you can use your main number for close friends or a new number if you get too many spam calls.

– File a report >with BBB >Scam Tracker. Read the full study at >bbb.org/fakegov.

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