I just called to say, “I’m scamming you!” Beware of phone fraudsters

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by Morinville News Staff

The next time a local business phone number pops up on your screen, it might just be a call from Westjet. But why would WestJet call you from the local hardware store? They wouldn’t.

Morinville and area residents have been receiving calls recently that appear to be coming from local numbers. When the caller answers their phone, they find it is a pitch from someone posing to be Westjet or other reputable and well-known firm.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) says the practice of disguising one phone number for another is called spoofing. It is a practice that has been common in email for years. Fraudsters disguise their email address for that of a company their proposed victim may do business with, banks being one of the most common.

“A spoofed number can appear as a string of digits such as 000-000-0000 or 123-456-7890, a random number or another company or person’s real number,” the CRTC writes on their website.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers similar caution to Canadians. “This is a phone number that has been programmed into the system, so your call display indicates a different number than the originators,” the centre writes on its website. “Although this does not mean the offer you are receiving is illegal, you should certainly have a “red flag” approach to any offer.

“Why would a legitimate company try to obscure their identity?”

When callers answer spoofed calls, they are usually told they have won a prize and to push a number on their keypad to claim the prize. That is when they are asked for personal info, including credit card numbers. It is the phone equivalent of the email phishing scams, whereby fraudsters try to get their victims personal information.

The scam is not new, nor is Westjet the only company the fraudsters claim to be from. Telus has been warning its customers about spoofing since as early as 2013.

Anyone who has received a spoof call is asked to file a complaint with the CRTC or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/english/reportit-howtoreportfraud.html

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