It it sounds too good to be true – or if the caller is suspiciously ominous – hang up.
Readers often contact the Trail Times to give a heads up about scam calls they’ve received, which have ranged from supposed long-lost relatives calling from jail needing bail, to “you’ve won a free cruise,” to the caller claiming to be from the government, usually the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Just last week a Trail senior was targeted, and afterwards she called to tell the newspaper about this disturbing call.
Her red flag was being asked to give out her SIN number over the phone, so she promptly hung up and reported the call to police.
The truth is, no matter the month or season, the Trail RCMP regularly fields these types of reports from locals.
“Frauds and scams continuously evolve in their content and complexity,” Sgt. Mike Wicentowich told the Trail Times. “Canadians are constantly subjected to frauds and scams like people pretending to be CRA and requesting personal information and money from those citizens. This time a year, people pretending to be CRA agents may increase as tax time approaches,” he added.
“(But) we receive about the same number of calls year round, and seniors have been noted to be particularly vulnerable to certain scams and frauds.”
The most important piece of advice from the RCMP is to never provide any personal information or banking details over the phone without verifying the legitimacy of who is on the other end. This advice pertains to any form of communication, including email, texting, and letters.
“And you cannot verify who is asking for the information without taking some steps to do so,” Wicentowich emphasized.
Most government agencies can be contacted through a secure phone number, a secure website, email, and in-person at local offices, he advised.
“If you are unsure about who you are speaking too, ask for the employee’s name and employee identification number, hang up, and verify the contact information,” Wicentowich continued. “Call that agency or company back to verify the employee’s information. Do not rely on any information provided by the person contacting you.”
The sergeant says members of the public can also call and speak to a police officer if they are unsure about who is calling them, and to ask for advice on how to proceed if they think they are a subject of a fraud or scam.
Additional resources on how to effectively deal with frauds and scams are available at Trail and Greater District RCMP office on Laburnum Drive.
“The Little Black Book of Scams” and “Fraud Awareness” can be picked up at the detachment’s front counter Monday to Friday during business hours, which are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.