There's a new scam in town and Canadians are being tricked into giving away their money by fake government officials. If you get a call out of the blue from a government department you might want to a little cautious. Government of Canada scam calls are so high-tech it now shows official government numbers on call displays.
Scammers have been trying to swindle Canadians for years and new scams keep on popping up all the time. The latest phone scam has people pretending to be official government employees saying you owe money and threatening legal action.
You might think you're good at recognizing when a call is a scam, you might even Google the phone number once it pops on your screen. But that might not be good enough to fend off scammers anymore.
Scammers have found a way to make official government phone numbers appear on your call display even though the call isn't coming from any real government department or agency.
After you pick up and they tell you how much money you owe and how much trouble you're in, the scammer will tell you that you'll be getting a call from the police. A few minutes later that same scammer spoofs the call again to make it look like the call is actually coming from local police.
"It's hitting lots of Canadians," said Jeff Thomson from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to the CBC. "So it's a huge impact. We've seen a huge spike in the reporting on this fraud."
Some of the calls are even from people claiming to be RCMP employees and saying that your social insurance number has been compromised.
I get scam calls from the "CRA" pretty much every day right now! The language is very threatening. Scammers spoofin… https://t.co/OQ1k9yiERH— Aarti Pole (@Aarti Pole)1573047322.0
This type of scam has been going on for years but it's never been as sophisticated as it is now.
The old one had scammers claiming to be from Canada Revenue Agency but the new one has scammers impersonating dozens of government departments.
"These calls are very alarming. The callers will present themselves as a government official. They will sound very official. They will use a badge number. They will say they are an officer or special agent or an official-sounding title to give themselves some credibility," said Thomson.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has been tracking how many people report these fake government scams and how much money Canadians have been conned out of.
From 2014 to 2018, there have been more than 75,000 reports of these scam calls and Canadians have been defrauded out of more than $15 million.
So far in 2019, 297 people have been victims of the scam but there have been 2,639 reports of scam calls. Just over $1 million has been lost this year.
"Wary Canadians who receive a suspicious incoming phone call frequently disconnect the call and call the government to verify the legitimacy of the call. Legitimate phone calls from government departments can be dismissed as fraudulent, leading to the recipient of the call not receiving important information," Isabelle Maheu, spokesperson for Employment and Social Development Canada, which includes Service Canada, told the CBC.
Other government departments and agencies that are being spoofed as part of the scam include Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Correctional Service of Canada and Canada Border Services Agency to name a few.
The government of Canada has a page dedicated to protecting yourself from scams which you can find here.