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  • Do You Know Who’s Calling? Phone Scams Prey on Ontario Residents

woman wary of phone scams

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Even in a market that does a lot of face-to-face business, or for businesses that have moved to an online presence; a considerable portion of business is still done over the phone. Like any platform, getting a call from a business can be a regular occurrence. However, Ontario Energy Group advises consumers to beware of scams over the phone, possibly even more so than in a face-to-face meeting.

In Ontario, one of the most common phone scams is the “1-900” scam, and it’s almost too simple to be true. Essentially, the victim will get a phone call from a scam artist, often with a 1-900 number, though 1-976 and 1-809 are also common in Ontario. Once you’ve answered the call: you’ve already been scammed.

1-900 numbers have been used by legitimate businesses for years for information services, and reputable ones do inform you ahead of time that your call will be charged. Scammers simply use the number as a charge to your phone bill and you may not even hear anything on the other end before you’re disconnected. For a single call, you can expect to be charged, on average, around $35. If you see a 1-900 or similar number calling, be careful about picking it up. These numbers are used for incoming calls; scammers use them for outgoing calls.

Another very common scam in Ontario is the popular “Vacation Offer” scam.  These scams call consumers unsolicited, letting them know they’ve won a free cruise, or a vacation, or any similar free and exciting offer. These scams request you pay a one-time processing fee to complete the offer.

And unless you recently entered into one of these offers, this payment is simply to get ahold of your banking information. Despite being one of the most well known and oldest phone scams in use today, Ontario residents fall prey to this scam around 450 times per year.

In a future article, we’ll discuss some of the particulars of phone scams and how to know what information is safe to share, and what could compromise your safety down the road. In the meantime, Ontario Energy Group advises you to:

  • Always check a number before you answer it.
  • Never make a forward payment on an unsolicited call.
  • If you’ve been called by a suspicious number, use services like Canada411.ca and see if there have been complaints about the number.
  • If you know you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to the authorities as soon as possible.

If you’ve ever been the victim of a phone scam, or from any other scam, we’d like to hear from you. Ontario Energy Group’s Consumer Watch raises awareness for consumers and homeowners all over Ontario.

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