Landline telephones are being abandoned by many Canadian households in favour of mobile service but an old scam is leveraging the old technology to pull in new victims.
Calgary police have issued a warning to citizens to watch out for suspicious phone calls from scammers posing as bank officials and say the scam is a reoccurring trend.
The new twist is that it targets landlines as they remain live after one person hangs up unlike cellular phones, which disconnect when one person terminates the call.
Police say the scammer calls the landline and then tries to persuade the person who answers that their help is required to find fraudulent activity on their account.
The victim is then told to buy things, usually gift cards, with their debit or credit card to help 'bank officials' determine the difference between real and fake activity on the account.
If the victim questions the caller, they are told to hang up and call the phone number on the back of the debit or credit card to validate the call.
Because the landline does not terminate the connection when one person hangs up, the line is still open. When the victim places the call to their bank, they are really still connected to the scammer who then answers the call as the bank or an investigator for the bank.
After that, the scammer will try to get personal and financial information from the victim for the 'investigation.'
Police say they have received reports that the scammers are posing as police investigators in some instances.
Investigators say over $600,000 was lost to scams like this in 2018, which is a 60 per cent jump over the year before.
Police say 17 cases of bank fraud involving phone scams have been reported so far this year and the amount of money lost is more than $73,000.
People are reminded to take note of the following tips so they don’t fall victim to scams like this;
- A legitimate financial institution will never call a person and seek their assistance in conducting an investigation, especially if the "investigator" requires the victim to make a purchase at the direction of the caller.
- Ensure the phone line has truly gone dead and wait for a dial tone before calling a verified phone number, especially if directed by an unidentified caller.
- Be cautious of what information you provide to a caller. A scammer will often prompt you to provide them with information and then use that information later in the call to appear legitimate. Never give out personal information to people you don't know and trust.
- If in doubt, if something doesn't seem right or if the caller is pushing you to do something, hang up and speak with a trusted friend, family member or co-worker before doing anything. An objective perspective will often shed light on fraudulent activity.
- Gift cards will never be used by a legitimate business as a method of payment.
- No legitimate business will request you to send cash by mail.