Falling Victim to Telephone Scams

Tips to recognize a telephone scam

telephone scamEvery year, thousands of Canadians lose money to telephone scams.  From just a few dollars to your life savings, telephone scams can deplete you of your financial resources and set you up for a lifetime of bad credit and financial heartache.

Scammers are creative and will say just about anything to cheat unsuspecting Canadians out of their hard earned money. This is the case with a new scam that preys on our fears of getting into trouble with the taxman.

According to a recent report from the CBC, scammers are now posing as agents from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Some of the tactics these fraudsters are using include:

  • Informing individuals that they owe tax money and must pay up;
  • Threatening to freeze assets if money is not payed;
  • Threatening police action;
  • Using aggressive and forceful language to scare taxpayers into paying the fictitious debt; and
  • Threatening to confiscate taxpayer’s passport and social insurance number.

While many may recognize these calls as nothing more than a targeted scam, the RCMP is warning Canadians that telephone fraudsters can be “very persistent and will continue until they find a victim to prey on.”

Even though this is just one of the countless telephone scams investigated by the RCMP, the lasting financial effects of telephone fraud are something the team at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada deals with every day.

“Telephone fraud isn’t limited to race, ethnic background, gender, age, education or income,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at Consolidated Credit. “Everyone is a potential target, and the negative effects financial fraud has on its victims and their credit can last for years.”

The fact of the matter is, financial fraud can not only deplete unsuspecting Canadians of their hard-earned money, it can also destroy their credit rating – making it next to impossible to get a loan, buy a home, lease a vehicle, and in some cases, get a job.

To help Canadians avoid falling victim to these telephone predators, Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit offers these tips to recognize a scam:

Pay to win. If you receive a call saying you’re a winner and the caller requests money to collect you supposed winnings, it’s a scam. Legitimate organizations will never require you to pay to collect your winnings.

Wire money now. Organizations, such as the CRA would never require payment via wire transfer.  If a caller is asking, or demanding, a wire transfer they are trying to prey on you and steal your money.

Threaten police action. The CRA and other creditors do not threaten to call the police if you do not pay immediately, over the phone.  In fact, no legitimate organization would ever threaten police action.  If a caller makes these types of threats, hang up and report the call to PhoneBusters.

Fast talking. Scammers who operate by phone don’t want to give you time to think about their pitch. They just want you to say yes!  If a caller is speaking fast and not giving you time to ask questions, they are most likely working an angle to cheat you out of your money.

Shipping and handling. One of the more devious ways fraudsters get a hold of you financial information is by requesting you pay the shipping and handling on a prize you have ‘supposedly’ won. If a caller mentions that they will just put the shipping and handling on your credit card, hang up and file a report.

Personal information. It is amazing what a scam artist can do with just a little of your personal information. Under no circumstances should any upstanding organization or business request your personal information over the phone.  This includes bank accounts, credit cards, social insurance number and PIN numbers.  Anyone who requires this info from you over the phone is most likely running a scam.


“While financial fraud really knows no bounds, it is more often than not older people who fall prey,” adds Schwartz.  “Unfortunately older people are targeted because fraudsters assume they live alone, have a nest egg or may be more polite to strangers.  This is why it is essential that we are all aware of the red flags associated with telephone fraud.”

If you do fall victim to financial fraud as the result of a fraudulent telephone call, it is important to take action immediately.  File a police report, notify your creditors, contact your financial institutions, and ensure notes are filed on your credit reports.


Fraud is becoming a very prevalent crime in Canada, and is leaving countless numbers of consumers in a financial mess.  If your credit has been negatively affected as a result of fraud, or your debt is getting out of control, we can help!  Call 1-888-294-3130 today to speak to a trained credit counsellor and find out how you can get your budget under control.  You can also try our Free Debt Analysis online and a counsellor will reach out to you

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