Phone, internet scam warning issued

A national reporting service provides advice

The Houston RCMP detachment has issued a general warning about the dangers of providing personal information to unknown callers or via the internet which could result in the defrauding of unsuspecting individuals.

The warning follows reports of individuals in the Houston/Granisle area being taken in by experienced scammers who gradually developed fraudulent personal relationships leading to monetary loss.

With crimes of this nature being difficult to trace and prosecute as they could very well involve overseas perpetrators, Houston RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Mark Smaill said locals should be vigilant regarding unknown callers or email/internet solicitations and demands.

“Revenue Canada, that’s one we’ve heard about after the fact,” said Smaill of an extensive scam in which callers demand payment of unpaid taxes or face prosecution.

“This is a difficult one, especially if it involves sending gift cards,” he said. “These people know exactly what they’re doing when they make contact.”

Smaill encourages people to reach out to the detachment so that it can record complaints.

But he also encourages people to report unwarranted solicitations and demands to the federal Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Its website, https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca, contains an extensive list of known scams, tips on prevention and an on-line report system.

It warns of identity theft, advising those who have been victims to report incidents to their financial institutions and to tell friends and neighbours so they also won’t become fraud victims.

“Scammers often target victims of fraud a second or third time with the promise of recovering money. Always do your due diligence and never send recovery money,” the centre states.

One way to avoid fraudulent calls as well is called “robocall blocking,” a method which blocks automated calls by fraudsters using sophisticated computer systems.

“Once the customer gets this feature, there’s no need for further action – it’s always active,” said Chris Armstrong from CityWest, a northwestern provider of internet, phone and television services.

“Another feature is called “selective call rejection,” which allows the user to block specified phone numbers. Once it’s active, they would dial *60 and follow the prompts to add the phone numbers they want rejected,” he said.

For either service, a CityWest customer would need to call 1-800-442-8664 to add the feature to their account.

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