The call came in the middle of the day. Buckhorn resident Theresa Kowall picked up the phone.
A voice on the other end told her he was conducting a survey, she said.
“And he says, ‘Um, do you mind if I ask you a few quick questions,'” she said. “I was skeptical, but I was in a good mood.”
The caller would go on to ask Kowall if anyone in her Buckhorn home was between the age of 18 and 60. She said the caller hung up when she replied, “No.”
“And I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve just set myself up,’ because I’m not 17 living on my own, so clearly I’m over 60, and I’m retired.”
Since that call, Kowall says she’s received other calls. Some don’t make any sense, she said, while others are clear attempts to hijack her personal information.
“Intelligent people are getting pulled into these scams, and now you’re afraid to even answer the phone because you don’t know what’s legitimate.”
Kowall isn’t alone.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said fraudsters do target seniors. The Canada Revenue scam took $898,000 from seniors in 2017 alone.
While extortion scams like that one are topping the organization’s list, the anti-fraud agency said phishing scams targeting residents through text messages and emails are almost as popular, and just as problematic.
“In traditional phishing emails, where it’s a financial institution like your bank, it’s very difficult sometimes when you look at them side-by-side and try to decide which one is real and which one is fake,” said Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre spokesperson Jessica Gunson.
Gunson said anyone who receives a call, text or email from someone asking for personal information or money should just hang up or hit delete.