Phone fraudsters are getting more aggressive

Have you ever answered an unknown number out of curiosity? More times than not, it’s a crackly-voiced person on the other end, offering you some service or product that sounds too good to be true—and probably is. 

Driving the news: 18% of calls received by Canadians in the first quarter of 2023 were spam, with the average person receiving 3 spam calls per month, according to a new report from voice platform Hiya. 

  • Canadians receive significantly more fraudulent calls than our American neighbours (6.3% of all calls are fraud compared to just 0.73% in the States)—think someone trying to get your bank account number rather than a telemarketer pitching insurance.

 Why it’s happening: Companies use overseas phone banks where callers don’t have to abide by the Do Not Call List (DNCL), despite the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) handing out almost $150,000 in fines in 2015 to several companies that broke the rules.

  • One of the biggest fraud schemes the CRTC has tried to crack down on: Duct cleaning calls. A telemarketer will offer you rock-bottom pricing over the phone, but once a tech gets to your home, they will either upsell you or do a poor job.

  • Other popular scams revolve around cryptocurrency trading, romance scams or phishing scams that target vulnerable populations like older people or new immigrants who might not spot any red flags. 

Why it matters: Fraudsters don’t just disrupt your day with annoying phone calls—they cost you money! In 2022, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received over 90,000 reports totalling over $530 million—a 40% increase from 2021.

If you’re looking for tips to help you spot a fraudulent call, the CAFC has some handy tips to keep you and your information safe and secure:

  • Don’t give out your SIN, bank account info or personal details over the phone.

  • Chances are your telecom provider has tools or filters to help block spam calls—here’s a list of all the options and features companies offer.
  • There are also apps that can help for Apple and Android users. 

  • Be cautious, even if the voice on the other end sounds familiar. AI voice-mimicking scams are being used to ransom money from family members. Maybe set up a secret phrase only family will know so they can tell if you’ve actually been abducted.