Be alert for new phone scam

Ever innovative thieves would like to separate you from your cash.

  • Feb. 11, 2014 2:00 p.m.

Have a you received a phone call from an area code or phone number  you don’t recognize? Don’t call back to see what you may have missed, that could be exactly what a criminal wants you to do. You could end up with unexpected charges on your next phone bill.

A phone scam in the U.S. may spread its reach to Canada, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The scam, which so far seems confined to the U.S. marketplace starts with a missed call you notice on your missed calls list. The number may have an exotic area code number, and there’s been no message left for you.

You call the number back, and from that point a couple of different scams can take over.

The one currently in play in the States has you dialling into a toll number, or transferred to a toll number, in a country that doesn’t have laws against initiating a call-for-fee service without first giving the caller an option to hangup and avoid all charges.

Telus media relations representative Liz Sauve said that although Telus security teams are aware of the U.S. scam, they haven’t had any reports of it in B.C. yet.

But there are a number of potential phone scams anyone can fall victim to if they’re not wary.

Hackers and fraudsters are able to have false data appear on your caller id screen – spoofing – intended to lull you into a sense of confidence in the caller’s purported identity.

“Spoofing is when fraudsters essentially disguise their phone number to make it look like a local number,” Sauve said. “Sometimes [a] respected company’s name is thrown in to try and provide credibility for a scam.”

Once credibility has been established, the scammer might try to get personal information from you, whether it be credit card information or other personal information, which the scammer could then use to rip you off – directly or through a complex identity theft scenario.

“If someone calls you and says they’re calling from Telus and they start asking for personal information, the best thing to do is to ask the person for their name and number, and hang-up,” Sauve said. “Go online or pick up the phone book and confirm you’re calling the company and speaking to a trusted representative.”

“We wouldn’t make a call like that and ask for personal information right off the bat.”

Any time you receive a call telling you you’re a winner if you just call back quick enough should be viewed with suspicion, especially if you’re asked for credit card information.

“When it sounds to good to be true, it probably is,” Sauve said. “[if you hear] ‘dial this number because you’ve won a vacation to Hawaii but first we need your credit card number’… the best advice is just not to return the call. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.”

“If you get a missed call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t phone it back. If someone you know is trying to get a hold of you, you’ll likely recognize the number or they’ll leave a message.”

See for more information, and for contact numbers to report suspicious calls to the Telus security team.


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