Consumer alerts: telemarketing

New scams pop up day by day and some offers are too good to be true. How do you know if the person or the organisation contacting you is who they say they are? This page reveals some of the fraudulent techniques used recently and how to protect yourself. Be careful about the following calls and emails. Here’s what’s happening and what you can do to prevent fraud.

Some offers are not what they seem.

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COVID-19 Scams

Warning:

Did you receive an email, text or call offering you a COVID-19 grant or personal protective equipment? Some individuals are taking advantage of the pandemic to collect personal information or install malware on your computer or mobile device.

What's happening? Fraudsters are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by sending emails and text messages and making phone calls to trick you into revealing personal information or installing malware on your computer or mobile device.

Reported scams

Based on the scam activity that has been reported, the CRTC advises Canadians to be aware of the following malicious activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic:

COVID-19 Relief Programs from the Government of Canada

Many bad actors are posing as Government of Canada representatives to obtain Canadians’ personal banking information. Scammers may insist that this personal information is needed to receive a refund or benefit payment.

You should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided. Protect yourself by knowing that the Government of Canada will never:

Fraudulent offers for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Fraudulent offers for PPE, such as face masks or thermometers, have been reported. Follow these tips to protect yourself:   

Think you've been scammed? Help fight fraud by reporting your experience to the following organizations:

Calls offering to lower your credit card interest rates

Warning:

Have you been offered a deal to lower the interest rate on your credit card for a one-time fee? Some individuals and agencies are calling Canadians and claiming that they are calling on behalf of reputable credit card companies and offering to lower the interest rates on their credit card.

Be aware that a significant number of these calls are misleading and fraudulent. The callers in question have not been authorized by any type of reputable credit card company or financial institution to make these calls on their behalf.

What's happening: A recorded message will inform you that your telephone number was selected to receive a special credit card interest rate by a reputable credit card company. The originators of these calls will display a fictitious telephone number (a practice known as caller identification spoofing). Some consumers have also reported that their own telephone number appeared on their caller ID.

Once you answer the telephone you are asked to "press 1" in order to speak with a representative. Once connected, they will claim that they are calling on behalf of reputable credit card companies, then proceed to offer to lower the interest rates on your credit card for a fee. Consumers have reported that once the fee is paid, they do not receive the interest rate that was promised.

What you can do: We encourage you to file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) or call 1-866-580-DNCL (3625). You can help us investigate these calls by providing as much information as possible, such as:

If you are not on the National Do Not Call List and want to reduce the amount of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive, we also encourage you to register your number.

If you receive a call and are not sure of the caller's true identity, you should not provide any personal information, including your telephone and credit card number. Finally, if you receive a call that you think may be fraudulent, contact your local police or the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), a national service jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau.

Emails and calls claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Warning:

Have you received an email or phone call by someone claiming to be affiliated with the Canada Revenue Agency, that you owe taxes and requesting immediate payment?

Be aware that these emails and calls are fraudulent and could result in identity and financial theft.

What's happening: Some individuals are sending emails and calling Canadians claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and that they owe a fictitious debt to the agency. An immediate payment is demanded, either by credit card or by convincing the victim to purchase a prepaid credit card and contacting them with the information. The language used in the emails and calls often threaten the victim with court charges, jail time and/or deportation.

What you can do: To help you identify possible scams, please note that the CRA:

If you have received a call and are not sure about the caller's true identity, you should not provide any personal information, including your telephone number. Given the fraudulent nature of the call, you should hang up and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501, a national service jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau.

If you want to confirm the authenticity of the call, you can contact the CRA at 1-800-959-5525 for business-related accounts or 1-800-959-8281 for individual accounts.

For any other unsolicited calls, we encourage Canadians to file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) or call 1-866-580-DNCL (3625). You can help us investigate unsolicited calls by providing as much information as possible, such as:

If you are not on the National Do Not Call List and want to reduce the amount of unsolicited telemarketing calls you receive, we also encourage you to register your number.

If you have received an unsolicited commercial electronic message, you can report it to the Spam Reporting Centre. Canada's Anti-spam Legislation (CASL) helps protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.

Penalties for violating the Rules and CASL

The CRTC takes violations seriously. If found in violation of the National DNCL or the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, individuals can be issued penalties of up to $1,500 per violation; corporations can be issued penalties of up to $15,000 per violation.

If found in violation of CASL, individuals can be issued penalties of up to $1 million per violation and businesses up to $10 million per violation.

Vacation offers from callers claiming to represent well-known companies

Warning:

Have you been offered a discounted vacation for a week's stay at a resort over the phone? Some individuals and agencies are calling Canadians and claiming to be affiliated with a well-known company, such as Air Miles, WestJet, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels or Air Canada.

Be aware that these calls are misleading. The callers in question have not been authorized by these companies to make these calls on their behalf.

What's happening: A recorded message will inform you that your telephone number was selected by one of the companies listed above. You are then asked to "press 1" in order to speak with a representative who will offer you a vacation. The callers also display a false callback number (a practice known as caller identification spoofing).

What you can do: We encourage you to file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) or call 1-866-580-DNCL (3625). You can help us investigate these calls by providing as much information as possible, such as:

If you are not on the National Do Not Call List and want to reduce the amount of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive, we also encourage you to register your number.

If you received a call and are not sure of the caller's true identity, you should not provide any personal information, including your telephone number. Finally, if you receive a call that you think may be fraudulent, contact your local police or the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), a national service jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau.

Penalties for violating the Rules

The CRTC takes violations of the National DNCL and the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules seriously. If found in violation, individuals can be issued penalties of up to $1,500 per violation; corporations can be issued penalties of up to $15,000 per violation.

Calls claiming to be Google

Warning:

Have you been contacted by a live agent or pre-recorded message regarding a Google business listing?

What’s happening: Google listing scams are a telemarketing scam from either a live agent or a robocall with a pre-recorded message, falsely identifying themselves as a Google representative, and informing Canadians that their Google business listing is about to expire, has incorrect / outdated information, or is poorly ranked in Google rankings. The caller (either an agent or the pre-recorded message) then requests money in order to resolve the issue. Google business listings are free and do not expire. Although Google does occasionally initiate calls to businesses, it does not make unsolicited sales calls from an automated system.

For more information visit: Protecting against fraudulent calls

What you can do: We encourage you to file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) or call 1-866-580-DNCL (3625). You can help us investigate these calls by providing as much information as possible, such as:

If you are not on the National Do Not Call List and want to reduce the amount of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive, we also encourage you to register your number.

If you received a call and are not sure of the caller's true identity, you should not provide any personal information, including your telephone number. Finally, if you receive a call that you think may be fraudulent, contact your local police or the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), a national service jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau.

Penalties for violating the Rules

The CRTC takes violations of the National DNCL and the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules seriously. If found in violation, individuals can be issued penalties of up to $1,500 per violation; corporations can be issued penalties of up to $15,000 per violation.

Calls offering you a free psychic consultation

Warning:

Have you received a live call in French that asks you to call 1-900 telephone numbers? These calls use various pretexts however are primarily to offer a consultation with a psychic.

What’s happening: The Psychic Consultation scam begins with a live call offering a free psychic consultation, which then requires you to call-back a 1-900 telephone number to receive the free offering. Upon calling the 1-900 number, Canadian consumers are the charged on their telephone bills in accordance with standard 1-900 telephone number billing practices. The callers also display a false callback number (a practice known as caller identification spoofing).

What you can do: We encourage you to file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) or call 1-866-580-DNCL (3625). You can help us investigate these calls by providing as much information as possible, such as:

If you are not on the National Do Not Call List and want to reduce the amount of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive, we also encourage you to register your number.

If you received a call and are not sure of the caller's true identity, you should not provide any personal information, including your telephone number. Finally, if you receive a call that you think may be fraudulent, contact your local police or the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), a national service jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau.

Penalties for violating the Rules

The CRTC takes violations of the National DNCL and the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules seriously. If found in violation, individuals can be issued penalties of up to $1,500 per violation; corporations can be issued penalties of up to $15,000 per violation.

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