Phone scammers are defrauding countless unsuspecting people.
Last year, vulnerable Canadians lost $95 million to scammers.
Odds are you received a scam call in the past week1. These calls are growing. Last year, there were over 3.4 billion2 in the U.S. alone. As a result, phone scams are a top consumer complaint3.
Phone fraud is real
Phone scammers use telecommunications products/services to illegally get money from customers. They often use automated “robocalls” to call thousands of numbers a second. This brute-force approach helps them identify vulnerable people. These fraudsters are convincing, and use psychological tactics to exert control. They threaten arrest, loss of employment, asset seizure, and removal of children.
Elderly people at risk
You might laugh phone scams off as a trivial nuisance. If you have aging parents, you shouldn’t. Scammers believe seniors have significant money sitting in their accounts5. Additionally, elderly people can make poor decisions due to changes in cognition4. (Those experiencing early-stage dementia are at high risk.) Heightened anxiety among aging people can also increase their vulnerability.
Dealing with robocalls
Many seniors use a landline as their primary phone. These phones can’t use apps like Google Assistant to filter out robocalls. Some receive countless calls over the course of a day. Others outright avoid picking up their phone—and miss important calls (e.g., from doctors). The least fortunate get tricked by spammers, and lose their hard-earned savings.
A heartless crime
Phone scams cost ordinary people billions6 of dollars a year. (It’s estimated that only 5% of scams are reported7). Some individual Canadians have lost over $100,000.8 This is just the beginning, though. Those defrauded by scammers are at increased risk of identity theft. They also suffer from shame, regret and the fear of stigmatization. Some victims of these crimes have even committed suicide.9
Law enforcement, policy makers, and others recognize the devastating cost and impact of phone scams. Each is working to put an end to these crimes.
Police are combating scam operations. Recently, the RCMP and Indian Police raided an operation10. They acknowledge that education is key.
Policy and regulation
Regulatory groups are taking action. For example, the CRTC is mandating11 network-level call blocking. This will block calls with invalid ID data.
Some independent operations (like Telgard) are also taking action. We’ve seen loved ones defrauded of funds, and want to protect our them.
- Yes, It’s Bad. Robocalls, and Their Scams, Are Surging (The New York Times)
- The Rise Of The Phone Scam Crisis (Forbes)
- Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Texts (Federal Communications Commission)
- Why seniors are susceptible to phone scams and fraud, and how to stop them (USC News)
- Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors (National Council on Aging)
- Phone scams cost Americans $9.5 billion per year (KJRH)
- Scams and Older People (Neighbourhood Watch)
- ‘They’re nothing but financial terrorists’: 60,000 Canadians have complained about the CRA phone scam (CBC)
- Driven to death by phone scammers (CNN)
- Police raid Indian call centres linked to ‘CRA phone scam’ that have victimized Canadians (CBC)
- Phone companies must block calls with ‘blatantly illegitimate’ info, says CRTC (CBC)
Telephone scammers represent a significant threat. 10 minutes of preparedness—now—could save you, or someone you love, from unwanted anxiety and risk.
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