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Scammers using local phone numbers on the rise

The North Bay Police Service has been getting an increase in reports of telephone scammers using local phone numbers. 

Cst. John Schultz, community safety coordinator, says there has been a roughly 20 percent increase in what he calls “caller ID spoofing” compared to last year.

“If they’re using some updated technology, [scammers] can put whatever phone number they want. In fact, there have been examples where they put police numbers in,” Schultz said. 

Schultz says scammers will use local numbers while trying to defraud victims so their story becomes more believable. 

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“These scammers hit everybody,”  he warned. “They’re after your hard-earned bucks.”

Schultz, who spent a decade working for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, would normally be touring the area’s old-age residences, giving educational seminars to seniors to prevent phone scams. 

This year, Schultz says police have compiled a handbook with the same material which has been distributed to the homes. He believes fraud education should be talked about more frequently. 

“People should take the time to talk about it like you talk about sports or hockey or whatever,” Schultz said. “Everyone is trapped at home right now so go on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website and look at what scams are out there.”

In 2020, Canadians were defrauded $104.2 million, comprised of nearly 40,000 victims, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. 

However, despite there being more than double the number of victims who were defrauded in 2020 compared to the previous year, it showed only a $200,000 increase in money lost. 

“With some of the attempts, they know it’s a scam, so the education is working to a certain extent,” Schultz said. 

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s guidelines to avoid being scammed include:

  • Don’t be afraid to say no
  • Do your research
  • Don’t give out personal information
  • Beware of upfront fees 
  • Protect your computer and accounts
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