Local residents who receive a phone call that appears to be from London’s RCMP detachment are being warned by the Mounties that it may be a fraudster on the other end of the line.
In an advisory Friday, the RCMP says the detachment’s number has been used in recent caller ID spoofing incidents in which victims have received unsolicited calls that are coercive or threatening and claim to be from the police.
Police say that in some of the incidents, victims have been coerced into providing sensitive personal information, such as their social insurance number, or told they’re under investigation and threatened with arrest unless they transfer large amounts of money.
Caller ID spoofing is when caller ID information is altered by the caller, such as a telemarketer or scammer, to trick people into answering the phone, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
The information may be changed to make it appear to be a local call, or from a person or organization the victim already knows — in this case the RCMP. In other cases, the CRTC says the number that appears may even be your own, or one that can’t actually be called, such as 123-4567.
Caller ID spoofing has also been used by scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency staff, duct cleaning companies and more, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).
The agency says Canadians have also been subject to such calls during the COVID-19 pandemic from phony health-care providers offering home vaccination kits for an up-front fee, and from scammers “requesting urgent action or payment and/or offering medical advice, financial relief, or government assistance and compensation.”
“If you receive unsolicited calls that are coercive or threatening and claiming to be police or any other government department, don’t panic don’t react, hang up,” the RCMP’s advisory reads.
“Police services in Canada including the RCMP do not contact individuals via email or telephone for the purpose of collecting fines or money. Don’t give out personal information on unsolicited calls such as your name, address, date of birth, SIN or credit card information.”
People who suspect they have been the victim of such a call are asked to report the call to police or the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501.