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Graphic of female senior holding mobile phone to her ear while ominous man steals money from her purse.

How to recognize a telemarketing scam


Reported incidents of fraud in Canada have steadily increased since 2012. And seniors, specifically, have been duped out of almost $28 million between 2014 and 2017.

Of cases where seniors are targeted, telemarketing scams make up the majority of fraud cases, says S/Sgt. Daryl Creighton, White Rock RCMP, who spoke at a workshop on safety for seniors, in White Rock, B.C. this spring.

This is followed closely by coercion scams, where victims are convinced they owe income tax or are persuaded into accepting prizes or taking part in investments.

Watch out for these five red flags to avoid becoming a victim.

They're rushing you into something

Creating a sense of urgency by coercing you to do something immediately is one of the most common tactics scammers use to pressure you into handing over money or information.

They threaten you

If you resist doing what you're told, they scare you with arrest, jail or deportation, or other threat tactics. In most cases, you'll be advised not to tell anyone about the call.

They want you to pay up

The request could be for shipping fees, a tax on a prize or service, booking or maintenance fees, medical bills, legal fees or even a ransom. Victims are often asked to pay using alternative methods including Western Union money transfers, gift cards, prepaid credit cards and even cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

They're asking for personal information

Information that is useful to scammers includes your birthdate, health card number, social insurance or passport numbers, banking and credit card information.

They're claiming to be someone you know

The caller claims to know or be a family member or friend who is in some kind of urgent trouble and needs you to send money as soon as possible. Confirm their identity by asking personal questions that only your loved one can answer.

To read more on the scams being used in Canada today, and for information on how to report a scam, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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