Catching Scam Callers Isn’t So Easy

a shocked woman holding a laptop

Derek has the silliest ring tone I’ve ever heard.

Here’s a taste of it.

It sounds like his own little choir from overseas is telling him to answer the phone.

And probably like most people, he checks the number before picking up. And this is new to us – caller ID will now tell us when it suspects spam. (We have new phones and the old ones didn’t do it. Or perhaps Fido just signed on.) Those alerts are part of the STIR/SHAKEN technology that the CRTC is making telecom companies use to help protect us all. However, the phone companies are still upgrading their systems in order to fully implement STIR/SHAKEN.

It comes down to a simple fact that scammers are a step ahead of those who are trying to stop them. They’re greedy, possibly desperate, and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on our money. The authorities are always playing defense and struggling to catch up. And if they do get ahead, the scammers catch on quickly. It’s difficult for the good guys to win.

“They use robocalling technology and “spoofed” telephone numbers that make it appear as though the call is coming from nearby, and they tend to go after victims from certain ethnic communities, recent immigrants, teenagers and very often seniors.”

The Toronto Star

They’ve got scripts for tried and true shakedowns that range from “you’ve won a vacation” to “it’s your grandson and I’m stranded”. And there’s the old CRA standby that you’re going to jail for non-payment of income tax. It’s easy to think we’d never fall for it, but they work at least some of the time. People are distracted or busy and succumb to different tactics. It happens.

“According to the the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, 1,973 people lost a total of $20.6 million to phone scams in the first three months of this year. The actual figure is likely much higher as not all victims report their case to the Centre.”

CBC News via Yahoo

We all thought the Canadian government’s Do Not Call List in 2018 was going to help. And it did. Legitimate businesses have mostly stopped bugging us. But the scammers immediately found ways around it. And when you get a dozen or more of these bogus calls in a day, you can be sure that your number has been sold to evil-doers. Mine has. So has Derek’s.

It’s really tempting to answer one of these calls with an airhorn or a string of very bad words. But all that does is tell the scammer that this phone number is legit. And it’s ripe for reselling. Better to just let it go and if it is a legitimate call there will be a voice mail or they’ll contact you another way. Maybe one day, the good guys will get the upper hand but for now, it’s a no-win situation.

4 thoughts on “Catching Scam Callers Isn’t So Easy”

  1. Years ago, a lady in her 80s told me if she gets a phone call that asks her for donations, she just says she does not do solicitations over the phone & hangs up. I was impressed and I still use that statement. If I answer the phone and there is that slight pause, I hang up. I do not have caller ID on my home phone, but I do on my ancient cell phone. Why answer if you don’t know who it is? I think you are 100% correct – if the caller is legit, they’ll leave a message and you can initiate the response at your convenience. Thanks for the reminders to be careful. Cheers!

  2. If it’s the duct cleaners, I tell them I live in a tent. Some have actually said, oh, I’m sorry. Most just hang up. Either way they are gone and don’t get another ‘duct’ call for 6 months or so.

  3. I love Derek’s ring tone. That is awesome! It sounds like it was sung by the Monty Python guys.

    Out here in the country we still get scammers . . . going door-to-door! How low tech is that?

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