In Viewers choice Cheryl Martyn mentioned the Microsoft scam that’s popped up again. I thought I’d try and address telephone/email scams in a general sense and give everyone some thoughts and tools to assist themselves.
Almost everyone knows that anyone can make a phone call and have it come up with a “Blocked Number”. With the introduction of VoIP services there are now simple ways to also “spoof” your phone number and change what shows up on the recipient’s end. Until the CRTC gets a handle on VoIP carriers and starts enforcing proper identification rules this is a problem we continually deal with. Just because someone calls you and their Caller ID looks legitimate doesn’t mean it is. Never give your information to someone calling you without verifying who they are.
What everyone should know is that legitimate businesses understand this and will never call you out of the blue and request your private information. Even our work cell phones show a blocked number when I, as a Police officer, call someone.
As a legitimate caller I’m prepared and have a plan for anyone I’m calling to verify my identity. When someone isn’t sure I’m actually a Police officer I’ll ask them to call our main switchboard. I’ll provide the non-emergency number and tell them they can verify that number online and in the phone book. Then they call our switch board and verify my identity before our conversation continues.
Any legitimate business calling you and wanting to discuss this will be prepared and have a plan to do the same. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone calling you to provide their public phone number for you to call in and verify. No legitimate business expects you to provide information over the phone without some sort of verification.
When you call your credit card company, you’re making the call, you’re calling the number on the back of your credit card, you can trust that you’re calling a known party. Turn incoming calls around the same way. If someone is requesting your information ask them for their public telephone number, confirm it online or in a phone book then you call them.
That should address the majority of telephone scams. As for email never send private information through email.
Of course the most secure way to deal with private information is in person. Banks, etc all provide physical locations for you to go to and deal with a real person.
Hope that helps!