Be on the alert for the rise in phone and online scams. Do not be fooled

As we explained in the previous week’s column, March is Fraud Prevention Month, and particularly today that we are still in the middle of the pandemic, it is very important to be attentive to the signs of online and telephone fraud that have spread in this quarantine season.

During the month of March, there have been many government and private institutions, as well as the police throughout the country, that have made warning calls about the increase in telephone fraud carried out by unscrupulous people who pose so much as institutions from the government as well as from commercial companies.

Most of these phone scams begin with a call to a landline or cell phone from a potential victim. The caller poses as a representative of a commercial company, such as a warehouse, and tells the victim that their credit card is being used fraudulently. He then asks you to contact 911 or your financial institution to alert you of the attempted fraud.

The scammers supposedly hang up the phone, but in reality they continue on the line, and the victim dials either 911 or the number of their financial institution, but in reality the person they connect with is another scammer posing as a police officer or an investigator. banking. This new scammer asks the respective security questions, such as date of birth, his mother’s maiden name, etc., as well as asking for the credit card number and the three-digit security code found on the part back of credit cards. Once this is done, the scam is practically done.

Other scams that have increased in recent months are practically the same as we already know: supposed calls from Canada Revenue and the Immigration Department.

Some time ago I wrote a column in which I specifically referred to the scams that are carried out through alleged calls from the Department of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship, in which, for example, they ask victims for personal information.

In the case of people whose cases have already been concluded, my statement is very simple: there is absolutely no reason why the Department of Immigration is calling them requesting that type of information.

In the case of people who are still carrying out their immigration processes, there are times when immigration officials call to confirm if the client is indeed residing with the person who is sponsoring him, as well as they can call him to send additional information.

But an Immigration Officer will never call asking for the person’s full name, date of birth, social security number, address, mother’s name, name and code for online services, driver’s license number, identification number. PIN (PIN), credit card details (number, expiration date or all three security numbers), bank account information or passport number.

Immigration Officers cannot ask for this information because most of it already appears in their file and therefore there is no reason why they are asking for it over the phone.

Precisely due to the proliferation of this type of call, on several occasions the Department of Citizenship and Immigration has published warnings on the subject.

Many times the scammers ask for additional information that is supposedly required to complete their file with the Immigration Department, but also more directly they can request a sum of money to supposedly prevent the person from being deported.

They try to scare by citing laws that the victim allegedly violated, and threaten her with arrest warrant, jail, loss of immigration status and deportation if she does not pay.

The affected people can be citizens, permanent residents or people with any other type of status or in the process of obtaining one, since criminals use public information to scare whoever answers their phone call.

One of the most used techniques is to tell the affected person that they need additional information in their file since the laws have changed, and that if they do not update the information immediately they run the risk of being deported.

If in a given case the immigrant who receives the call replies that he is a citizen and therefore cannot be deported, the criminals can “explain” to him that a new legislation passed gives the government authority to immediately deport those who do not. are Canadian citizens by birth and therefore have dual citizenship.

But if you receive any such call, be sure that the caller is not an official from the Immigration Department, but rather a criminal who is trying to take money from you.

In cases when they ask for information, it is for identity theft, with which criminals can have access to their bank accounts, or to open one, to transfer the balance of money from the account and keep it, make loan requests, credit cards and other services using your name, making purchases, etc. They also do it to obtain a passport or receive government benefits.

Obviously this can cause big problems for the person whose identity is used for criminal purposes.

In this sense, if you receive a suspicious call, if you have doubts that the person who is calling you is really an Immigration officer, you can tell the supposed official that before answering a question you are going to confirm that the person who is calling effectively represents the Department of Immigration. Immigration. Thus, you can then hang up, allow a few minutes to pass to make sure that the call has actually been cut off, and call the information number of the Immigration Department, which is 1-888-242-2100. There you should ask if an officer is actually calling you, and if so, ask to be called back.

But if unfortunately you did not realize that the call was a fraud and gave the information, you must make sure to monitor all your accounts, including credit cards. You should also report it to the police, financial institutions, credit card companies, and credit bureaus (Equifax Canada: 1800-465-7166 and Trans Union Canada: 1877-525-3823).

Other warnings to prevent theft and use of identity are not responding to unsolicited emails, not responding to phone calls that try to obtain personal information, not carrying all the documentation in your wallet but carrying what is absolutely necessary, periodically reviewing your credit reports, your bank and credit card statements, and report any irregularities immediately to the respective institutions.

Also, during transactions it is safer for you to swipe your card at the machine than for the cashier to do it, never lose sight of your credit card, always have it in your hand, and always cover your personal identification number when you are. using a debit or credit card at an ATM.

Memorize all your identity numbers for card payments, never write them on the same cards, and familiarize yourself with the collection cycles for all your payments.

Also remember that trash cans are a gold mine for identity thieves, so be sure to tear up any personal or financial documents before throwing them in the trash.

If you change your address, be sure to inform the mail and all financial institutions (banks, credit companies, etc.) about your new address, and always be attentive to your accounts. Follow all these tips to avoid unpleasant surprises

And if you have questions about calls you are receiving from the Immigration Department and you do not know what to do, if they do come from the government entity, immediately consult your advisor or your immigration lawyer, he or she will tell you what you should do.

Vilma C. Filici