How to Protect Yourself from Scammers
Unwanted calls may violate these rules, even if they offer a legitimate product or service.
Canadians should also be aware that callers can falsely claim to provide products or services. These scammers often claim to represent legitimate companies or government organizations in an attempt to trick you into buying products or services that you don’t need or that don’t exist, or into giving them your financial and other personal information.
Scammers of all kinds can obtain your telephone number fraudulently or from public lists, such as a phone book. As a result, you can receive scam calls even if yo have an unlisted number, or you have registered your number on the National DNCL.
How to avoid unwanted calls
Register your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call List. To register, call 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or visit www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca.
How to protect yourself from scams
To protect yourself from scams:
- NEVER give an unsolicited caller access to your computer. If you receive an unexpected phone call about your computer system’s security status or performance, and the caller requests remote access to your computer, hang up – even if the caller claims to represent a well-known company or product.
- Don’t give out personal information. Do not give out credit card or online account details over the phone, unless you made the call and the number you are calling came from a trusted source.
- Protect your computer. Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. But research first, and only purchase software from a source you know and trust.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, that you have given remote access to your computer to a suspected scammer, or that your computer has been hacked:
- Alert your financial institution. If you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately and let them know.
- Get further assistance. Contact the Canadian Identity Theft Support Centre at http://idtheftsupportcentre.org/ or by dialing 1-866-436-5461.
- Get qualified computer help. If you have computer problems, seek help or advice from a qualified and reputable computer technician.
- File a complaint. You can report unwanted telemarketing calls at www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/plt-cmp-eng or by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (3625).
- Contact law enforcement. If you think the call might be part of a fraud scheme, contact law enforcement authorities or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (formerly PhoneBusters) or call 1-888-495-8501.
How to recognize suspected scams
The CRTC is aware of several suspected scams, and is publicizing them as a preventive measure. Current suspected scams include:
- Scammers selling anti-virus services. Unsolicited phone calls and pop-up internet advertisements that claim to provide computer anti-virus services but are actually designed to gain access to your personal computer.
- Robocalls offering to consolidate your debts or lower your credit card interest rates.Calls from Automated Dialing and Announcing Devices (robocalls), often from locations outside Canada, that offer debt reduction services.
- Callers falsely claiming to represent the CRTC. Callers falsely identifying themselves as CRTC employees and requesting remote access to your computer.
Beware of telemarketers selling computer anti-virus services
The CRTC is aware of a scam designed to gain remote access to Canadians’ personal computers or to convince them to pay for anti-virus software they may not need. If you fall victim to the scam, you will waste money, and your banking and other personal information might be at risk.
How the anti-virus scam works
The anti-virus scam starts when someone calls you and offers to provide computer anti-virus services, or when you respond to a “pop-up” anti-virus advertisement on the Internet.
In either case, the scammer is not selling a real product, but trying to gain remote access to your computer and to get your credit card information. The scammer will say they need remote access to provide the supposed services, and will ask for your computer passwords and related information. They will also ask for your credit card information, so they can bill you for the supposed services.
The exact details of the scam can vary. For example, the scammer might:
- try to gain your trust by saying they work for Microsoft or another reputable software company
- tell you that your computer has been infected with a virus
- offer to scan your computer to detect possible viruses
- try to sell you anti-virus software they claim they will install remotely, or
- ask if your computer is running slowly or not working properly, and offer to improve its performance.
The scammer might even tell you that you have a PC, and then change their story if you tell them you have a Mac. They will say they need to access your computer remotely to “fix” it, and will ask for your passwords and other information to do this.
Sometimes, the caller will direct you to a website where you can purchase anti-virus software or a computer maintenance or warranty program.
Possible consequences of the anti-virus scam
In fact, the scammer is not selling a legitimate service or a product. They are trying to gain remote access to your computer for their own gain. If you fall for the scam, you not only waste money on nonexistent services, you might also suffer additional consequences.
For example, a scammer that has gained access to your computer and billed you for nonexistent services can:
- use your credit card information to make purchases on the card
- install malicious software on your computer, use it to gather your banking and other personal information, and then empty your bank accounts or perform other illegal transactions, or
- use your computer without your knowledge to send spam or viruses to other computers, including those of people on your email contact list.
What to do if a scammer calls
If you receive an unsolicited call offering anti-virus services, requesting access to your computer or asking for credit card information, hang up.
If you see an Internet pop-up advertisement offering anti-virus services, do not respond to the pop-up.
NEVER give an unsolicited caller access to your computer.
Although it is important to install and update anti-virus software on your computer, always buy this software from a legitimate vendor that you trust.
Beware of robocalls offering to consolidate your debts or lower your credit card interest rates
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) has received a high volume of complaints regarding ADAD (Automated Dialing and Announcing Devices) calls, otherwise known as robocalls. These calls offer to sell services to consumers to allegedly help them consolidate, reduce or settle their debt, or to lower the interest rates on credit cards.
Many of these calls originate from locations outside Canada. As a result, the CRTC is working with its international counterparts to stop the calls.
What to do if you get a call
If you get such a call, be smart, be skeptical, and hang up.
You can often get the services that these callers claim they are offering free of charge from legitimate financial institutions. So if you need debt consolidation or interest rate reduction services, call your bank directly, or contact a legitimate financial consulting business.
Beware of callers falsely claiming to represent the CRTC
The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is aware of scammers falsely claiming to represent the CRTC in order to gain remote access to consumers’ personal computers.
How the scam works
This scam involves callers falsely identifying themselves as representatives of the CRTC. They tell you that your computer is potentially at risk because of viruses, and request remote access to your computer to scan for and remove those viruses.
These callers do not represent the CRTC. They are trying to gain access to your computer to steal financial and other personal information for the purposes of identity theft.
What to do if you get a call
If you get such a call, hang up. NEVER give remote access to your computer in response to this or any other unsolicited call.
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