Bob Groeneveld has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with Langley readers for the past four decades, give or take a few months.

Odd Thoughts: Just shut up and hang up

Scammers aren’t as much fun to play with since spoofs and phishing have grown more sophisticated

by Bob Groeneveld

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“The following is regarding an enforcement action which has been executed by the Department of Justice against your social insurance number. Ignoring this would be an intentional attempt to avoid initial appearances before the magistrate, judge, or exempt jury for a federal criminal offence. So before it goes to a federal court house where you could get arrested, kindly press 1 and speak to an officer now.”

If that sounds familiar to you, you probably already know to keep your mouth shut and hang up immediately.

Either that, or you’re living in somebody else’s house now, only you don’t know it because the new owner has your name and all your numbers – unless he’s already sold it to someone else and pocketed the money.

On a positive note, the guy who bought your house from “you” without your knowledge probably got a steal of a deal.

Real estate transactions are probably the most dire results of “kindly” pressing 1. You might only lose your life savings, or have one or more of your credit cards maxed.

That “kindly” cracks me up, though. I love that they are so polite while they’re attempting to saw your legs off just above the knee joints. I suppose an international thief faking a message from a Canadian authority would expect nobody to believe them if they weren’t polite.

However, polite or not, the three or four calls a day I received through the course of about a week and a half – and I’m assuming I’m not the only one – weren’t coming from the Department of Justice, or any other Canadian government agency.

The DOJ is aware of them, and its website says they’re working on it. In some cases, the call display even shows up as “Police” or “Service Canada” or something else that seems legitimate.

This particular scam is one of the biggies faced by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre which is where you can report the scam, if you wish to do so – and you should, particularly if you’ve passed along any information about yourself, or if there is anything in the opening phone call that suggests the scammers know more about you than they would if this were just a random robo-call.

There was a day – in my cocky youth – when I would have been tempted to reply to the call, just to toy with the scammers a bit. But I’m older and wiser now, and the scammers have grown more sophisticated.

Some of them have developed techniques by which they can take advantage of smart alecks who figure they can out-con the cons. It has been suggested that some will record your voice, and then use snippets of the recording to compromise you.

So really, if you get a call from anyone about your social insurance number, or bank accounts, or passwords – nobody legitimate cold-calls you for any of that sort of personal information – just shut up and hang up.

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In a past life, Bob Groeneveld was editor of the Langley Advance and the Maple Ridge Times. Now he writes when and what he feels like. He has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with readers for more than 40 years. Visit with him on Facebook.

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