When a “bill collector” comes calling…

Barriere RCMP warn residents of bill collection frauds perpetrated by telephone

Barriere RCMP say they continue to receive reports of bill collection frauds perpetrated by telephone.

Typically, these scams involve a person claiming to be calling on behalf of a commonly used business service or government organization, such as BC Hydro or the Canada Revenue Agency. The scammer will usually claim that the victim owes money and they need to pay right away or face some sort of urgent penalty, such as arrest in the case of CRA, or the shutting off of utilities when claiming to be BC Hydro.

Sometimes, the scammer may even know details of the victim’s accounts, like balance, address, SIN, etc., all in an attempt to convince the victim that the call is legitimate. In order to extract money from the victim, the scammer will ask for payment in a variety of unusual forms, such as pre-paid debit or credit cards, gift cards, MoneyGram, Western Union, or Bit Coin. The scammer may even do internet research of your local bank’s business hours and make the call during times when the bank is not open, in order to pressure the victim to use one of these other methods of ‘payment’.

“The best course of action to take whenever you receive a cold call from someone claiming that you owe money is to hang-up, and contact the company or government entity directly via their telephone number in the phone book or official company website,” says Barriere RCMP Cpl. Rob Welsman. “Do not use phone numbers, email addresses, or website links provided by the scammer to contact the company, as these are fraudulent and will only lead you back to the scammer themselves.”

By contacting the business yourself instead of responding to a cold call, you can ensure that you are speaking with the real business or government entity. By making bill payments directly via your bank, you can receive the bank’s assistance in ensuring that your money is going to the legitimate utility company or government tax collection system.

If you work at a business that sells gift cards, pre-paid cards, or money transfer methods, you can help prevent scams. You can caution purchasers not to pay bills using these methods, especially if it resembles one of the above scenarios.

If you suspect that you have lost money to a fraudulent bill collector scheme, ensure you contact your local RCMP and your bank and/or credit card provider to report the incident. These organizations can assist you in trying to recover the lost funds or at least prevent further loss.

For more information on this and other types of scams visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Website

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