(ORILLIA, ON) – The OPP’s Anti-Rackets Branch, along with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, have issued a caution about service scams. These typically involve individuals using high-tech sounding jargon to offer telecommunications, internet, finance, medical, and energy services.
This category of scams may also include offers such as extended warranties, insurance, and door-to-door sales.
“It’s troubling for everyone to know that criminals use any means possible to extort money from hard-working people to further their criminal lifestyles,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum. “Always be skeptical of any offers to access your digital devices or for your personal information. And follow through by reporting those suspicions to police and your financial institution.”
Investigators have found two common scenarios.
In one, a telephone caller pretends to represent a well-known computer or software company, like Microsoft, or uses a name associated with Microsoft, such as Windows. According to reports the OPP has received, the caller claims a person’s computer is sending out viruses or has been hacked and must be cleaned.
The scammer will gain remote access to the computer and may run some programs or change some settings. They will then demand a fee for the services.
Although most often a credit card number is all that is needed to cover the payment, in some cases the scammer will transfer money using the victim’s computer through a vendor such as Western Union or MoneyGram.
In the end, the victim pays for a service that was never needed. The computer was never infected.
In another common scenario scammers will call to offer reduced interest rates on a victim’s credit cards or line of credit. They request personal information such as a Social Insurance Number, a mother’s maiden name, date of birth, and the credit card number with the expiry date of the cards.
The OPP also warns those who are using their computer when they were scammed that it is possible a virus or malicious software was installed.
The remedy requires a full system check using reliable security software. Those without security software, such as virus scanners and a firewall, should contact a computer professional. The scammers may have also gained access to their victim’s online passwords. These should be changed using a secure computer.
If payment to the scammer is made with a credit card or through an electronic funds transfer, victims should contact their financial institution or credit card company immediately. They may be able to stop or reverse the transaction.
Those who may suspect that they have become a victim of a service scam should contact their local police service. A complaint can also be filed through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
Additionally, those with any information concerning fraud operations or scam activity in Canada, should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online.