Watch out for scammers claiming they’re from Canada Revenue Agency, police warn

Theft, identity fraud could result

Red Deer RCMP are warning Central Albertans to be on the look-out for telephone scammers claiming to be calling from Canada Revenue Agency.

The kind of fraud had been on the decline after Interpol busted several criminal operations in India, but seems to be on the up-swing again.”There might be some copycats,” said Const. William Lewadniuk, of Red Deer RCMP’s fraud division.

While the scammers once called people directly, they now seem to be using pre-recorded automated messages, claiming the persons they have contacted owe tax money, and urging them to call back immediately.

Lewadniuk said older people and newer immigrants are often targeted with fear-inducing language, such as warning this is an “urgent” or “serious” matter. They usually ask for personal information, such as bank account, social security or credit card numbers that can be used for identify thefts, and ask to be paid in money — or gift cards, which are impossible to trace.

As with any kind of telephone call that demands money, Red Deer RCMP urge citizens to independently verify the claims of any caller by hanging up, looking up the phone number for Canada Revenue Agency (or whichever organization the caller claims to represent) and calling them directly.

Do not call back a number given out by the person calling you.

Though scammers may use “number spoofing” to make it look like they’re calling from a local phone number or the number of a business or agency, the scammers are usually located outside of Canada, making it impossible for RCMP to locate them.

“All we can do is to warn people to ask questions, be skeptical of phone calls from anyone who is demanding money, and urge people to educate themselves about these very common scams,” says Corporal Karyn Kay of the Red Deer RCMP.

“Be alert to red flags such as anyone demanding payment through gift cards or pre-paid credit cards.” No legitimate government agency would make this request.

RCMP also caution:

· Avoid giving personal information over the phone, unless you initiate the call.

· Ask for written information about the person, government agency business or charity. Confirm the validity by looking up their phone number and website yourself rather than using the information they offer you.

· Do not send any money or fees to claim a prize;

· Be wary of heart-tugging appeals.

Learn more about recognizing and protecting yourself from fraud at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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