KINGS COUNTY, NS – The RCMP is cautioning people to be on the lookout for a scam that's back in Kings County that cons people into making payments over phone or email.
Constable Kelli Gaudet with the Kings District RCMP has spoken with all detachments in the county, who’ve each received numerous calls regarding scammers phoning households.
She estimates that hundreds of calls have happened across the county since the problem started just over a week ago.
“The Kingston detachment alone has received 10 to 15 calls per day. We’re talking about a huge number of calls, and a large amount of people at risk as a result,” said Gaudet.
How the scam works
The scammers have been claiming they are Canada Revenue Agency representatives over the phone, with many telling the person who answered that they owe back taxes. After telling the person the money is due within the next 24 hours, they have also said RCMP will issue a warrant for the person’s arrest if they don’t pay up.
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And sometimes, the scammers on the phone even claim to be RCMP officers themselves.
“These scammers are pushy, belligerent, and are looking to rush people into giving them an immediate payment. That’s the first clue that there’s something wrong, since banks and the CRA do not ask for this over the phone,” said Gaudet.
“The next red flag is when they say RCMP will get involved, since we absolutely never get involved with collecting debts or taxes.”
Seniors not the only ones at risk
It’s a misconception that these scams target seniors, according to Gaudet.
This misinformation results from the disproportionate amount of seniors who report the incidents, but there is sound reason for it.
“Scammers do not normally know the age of who they’re calling. It just so happens these calls tend to occur during the day time, when seniors are at home,” she said.
With the aggressive nature and large number of these calls, Gaudet wants people to be on the lookout for anything sounding suspicious over the phone.
She offered several tips on how to do this:
- Never give personal information, most importantly banking information, out over the phone or on line unless you are 100 per cent sure of who is on the other line and feel comfortable doing so;
- Use strong passwords, change them frequently and don’t share them;
- Be aware of what you post on social media. Discussing or posting photos of travel can indicate you aren’t home, and break and enters can easily happen;
- If you are shopping on line, be sure you are on a safe site. Always make sure the address starts with ‘https’ and has a padlock icon in the URL filed, indicating the website is secure;
- Use caution when opening attachments on emails unless very sure of where they are coming from. These are quite often hackers or scams; and
- If a call ever feels suspicious, hang up, and call your bank or various institutions directly to confirm whether they called or not.
If such a call or email happens, Gaudet says to contact the local RCMP detachment immediately.