CRA scams down, but scammers masquerading as other Canadian agencies

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CALGARY – A consumer protection agency says fraudsters are taking advantage of Canadians by posing as government officials and using the COVID-19 pandemic as leverage. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​conducted an investigative study which found that while crooks shy away from typical Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) schemes, they target other government offices for deceive the victims.

“Many scammers took advantage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by posing as the Public Health Agency of Canada (and) our local Alberta health officials,” BBB said in a statement this week.

Some groups, which often involve robocalls transferred to call centers in India, still use the CRA to scam victims, but others even claim to be “contact tracers” with the provincial government.

“Scams by government impostors are constantly evolving. Using persistence and intimidation tactics, they prey on people by threatening to be arrested if the money is not paid or if personal information is not provided, ”says Shawna-Kay Thomas, specialist communications to BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, in a statement. “Consumers need to know how to recognize and avoid this costly fraud. ”

Many scammers involved in these scams use the normal scare and intimidation tactics to trick victims into sending them money in the form of gift cards. Some of the more recent scams offer victims “free” government grants that may be theirs as long as they provide a fee, usually paid for with a gift card or prepaid debit card.

The BBB says both Canadian and US authorities have worked to crack down on these scammers and that these efforts have worked so far. Robotic calls have declined in the past few months, but they still haven’t stopped.

If you are ever contacted by scammers, the BBB suggests doing the following to protect yourself:

  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls from people posing as government officials because the longer you stay on the phone with them, the more likely you are to be a victim. If you need to be contacted by the government, they will notify you first by mail

  • Never trust names, badge numbers or other identifying information, as scammers often use fake names for their purposes. “Call spoofing” can also allow them to trick your caller ID into displaying their number as a legitimate call.

  • If the fraudster reveals some of your personal information to you, it does not mean that it is legitimate. It could simply mean that your private data has been compromised and you need to hang up and contact the authorities immediately.

  • Never give money, gift cards or any other currency to people over the phone. The Canadian government will never accept payment over the phone for any reason.

  • Don’t fall for intimidation tactics, including threats of arrest, that try to push you into making quick decisions.

  • If you feel pressured or have doubts as to the nature of the caller’s intentions, hang up and call the government agency they claimed to be using immediately using their official phone number listed in the government directory. from Canada.

The BBB adds that there are a number of ways for citizens to report fraud, including contacting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center and filing a report with the BBB Scam Tracker.

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