Lorraine and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary yesterday. Such an amazing journey with my wonderful wife. We decided to spend most of the day at St. Armands Circle, a beautiful area near Sarasota, Florida. A perfect day except for the constant interruptions by scammers. Four calls in one day.
Three of them involved a Services Canada scam. This one is relatively sophisticated in that the telephone number appears to be valid and the voice recording that begins the conversation has a common Canadian English accent unlike the live voice that follows if you press the “1” button to continue. There you will come across the all too familiar accent from a scammer shop somewhere in India. The call tells you that your Social Insurance Number has been compromised. I hung up the first two times but after the third call, I pressed that “1” button and firmly asked the scammer to stop calling my number. Perhaps they will.
Concerning the Social Insurance Number scam, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued the following statement:
Beware of calls asking for your Social Insurance Number
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has been contacted by individuals who have indicated people are calling them with claims that their Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) have been compromised. The callers then ask the individuals to confirm their SIN over the phone and sometimes claim the individual needs a new one. The fraudulent callers often say they are from government departments. Sometimes the phone numbers appear to be legitimate. However, Service Canada and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have confirmed these calls are fraudulent and that fraudsters are masking their phone number with legitimate government phone numbers in an effort to gain access to personal or financial information.
The next scammer took a lot more time and energy. Here is part of the call:
“Hello, this is Linda from the fraud department of Scotiabank calling about a charge on your Scotiabank VISA.”
“We have flagged a transaction on your account. A charge for $900 was made to Amazon from Germany. Is this a charge that you recognize?”
“No. I have not made any purchases on my Scotiabank VISA in Germany.”
“Did you share your card number and your 3-digit code with anyone?”
“Do you have your card in your possession?”
“Okay. We will reverse the charge, cancel your card and send you a new card within 3 business days. You can still be reached at this number?”
“For security purposes, can you confirm your VISA card number and the 3-digit verification code on the back of your card?”
“I am not able to give you that information right now.”
As the call was progressing, I became increasingly suspicious and after a few more comments from this “agent” I ended the call. I then reached out to Scotiabank directly. And, of course, there was no charge to Amazon made from Germany on my VISA account. This was nothing more than a scam. However there were a few twists to this particular scam.
The “agent” had excellent vocabulary and sentence structure. Not typical of most scammers. The “agent” used a specific Canadian bank and credit card. The team at Scotiabank assumed that the scammer did not use the Scotiabank name. They were surprised when I informed them that the scammer was very specific in terms of the name of the bank and the type of credit card. The “agent” followed a script that was very similar to what you might hear when responding to a potentially fraudulent charge. It was a surprisingly authentic call.
Whether it is through email, text, or voice, the scammers are becoming more sophisticated making it challenging to discern a legitimate call. I treat all such calls as suspicious. Here is a comprehensive list of common scams and frauds courtesy of the U.S. government. And this one from the Canadian government.
There is little, if anything, that governments can do about scammers. The burden of dealing with scammers falls on the individual.