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Photo: James Morgan

Scam alert! Telephone “spoofing” tries to steal your personal information and money

A Grenville resident recently contacted The Review and said that she had received a telephone call with a recorded message stating that her Social Insurance Number (SIN) had been compromised and she needed to act immediately.

“It’s a straight-out extortion scam,” said Senior RCMP Intelligence Analyst Jeff Thomson of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

The individual who reported the call had it traced to a local number in Grenville, but the person to whom the number belongs does not even know the call was made.

Thomson explained that using a process called “spoofing,” hackers use a local number to trick people into thinking the call is from a reliable, familiar source in their community.  The recipient of the call is more likely to take the call seriously if they see it is from a local number.

People whose telephone numbers are fraudulently used in spoofing scams do not usually know their number is being used, and they do not face extra charges on their monthly bills.  However, they often find out from other people in their community that their number is being used.  Thomson said they contact the fraud centre after others tell them that they have received questionable calls from their telephone numbers.

The SIN scam, along with similar ones involving the Canada Revenue Agency, Service Canada, and the RCMP, get recipients of fraudulent calls to disclosing their personal information, financial records, and often convince them pay thousands of dollars that is really being stolen from them.

“It’s one of the top-reported scams right now,” Thomson said.

As precautions against telephone scams, Thomson recommended a three “R” approach.  Recognize fraudsters are attempting to steal identity and money, Recognize the scam so you can reject it, and Report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and/or police.

Thomson said telephone spoofing scams are usually international in scope with different parts of the operation set up in two or more countries.

To report fraudulent scams, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Eastern time at 1-888-495-8501, or go to https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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