Tips for protecting yourself against phone scams

Telephones connect you to the ones you love and trust: a grandchild, a childhood friend, a daughter or son who lives miles away. But sometimes, the person on the other end of the line isn’t someone who has your best interests at heart.

The Better Business Bureau found that scams cost Canadians $61 million last year, CBC News reports

You may think that you’d never fall victim to a phone scam – that you’d recognize that something fishy was going on before any damage was done. But the power of fraudsters is that they have scamming down to a science, with a thorough understanding of the tactics used to take a quick conversation from “Hello” to “Here, take my money.”

The person on the other end of the line may not be someone you can trust.

A good way to protect yourself is to familiarize yourself with the most common types of scams perpetrated against Canadian seniors. If you can recognize the signs, you can stop the scam in its tracks and come away unscathed. Here are a few of the most common phone scams:

“Grandchild in Trouble”: This nasty scam plays to your emotions to convince you to comply, explain the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The criminal calls pretending to be your grandchild and tells you that they have been arrested far from home and need bail money. They ask that you do not contact any of your relatives, because they (the “grandchild”) don’t want to get into trouble. The criminal then asks you to use a wire service to send several thousand dollars for bail money.

“Charity Scams”: The scammer pretends to be from a charity and asks you for a donation. The RCMP notes that typically, the name of the fake charity is very similar to that of a well-known organization, making it all the more likely you’ll believe it’s legitimate.

“The Prize Scam”: The caller tells you that you have won a valuable prize, but that you first have to send them a payment to cover taxes and transportation and legal fees.

“Bank Inspector Scam”: The criminal calls pretending to be a bank inspector and tells you that they need your help to catch a bank employee who is stealing money. They ask you to withdraw a specific amount of cash from your account so that the inspector can check the serial numbers.

Stay safe with these tips 
Never send money through wire services, or send checks to someone you do not personally know. And as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons notes, steer clear of sharing personal or financial information over the phone, unless you are talking to your bank and they have first verified your identity. Also, keep in mind that real bank employees or police officers will never ask you to help with an investigation or send money. If you receive a suspicious call, immediately hang up and call the police, and if it’s related to your finances, your bank.