TD Explains: How to help protect yourself from phone scams

Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their attempts to target Canadians, and the landline scam is quickly gaining popularity.

How it works 

While there are variations, law enforcement indicates that the fraud, which targets landlines, begins with a fraudster calling a potential victim and disguising themselves as an employee of a business or financial institution. The fraudster then attempts to persuade the person answering the phone that there is fraudulent activity on the individual's bank account or other financial product. The fraudster using call spoofing and landline technology appears to be calling from a legitimate number (call displays may show the name of a company or financial institution) and advises the customer to hang up the phone and call their financial institution to verify this situation.

READ: 5 ways to protect yourself from financial fraudsters

Although the victim "hangs up", the landline does not terminate the connection. Fraudsters may be exploiting a lag time between when the victim hangs up and when the call is actually disconnected.[1]  When the victim places a call to their financial institution, they are unknowingly still connected to the fraudster who then pretends to "answer" the call. The fraudster impersonates an employee or an investigator for the business or financial institution and uses a range of tactics to influence victims to send cash or to transfer money to different addresses and accounts.   

As fraudsters leverage new technologies and tactics to create more sophisticated scams, it's important to have conversations with friends and family members to help them better understand how to identify, report, and avoid becoming a victim of fraud. [2] 

Learn more: How to protect yourself

  • It is important to know that when calling a financial institution, unless dialing the number of a specific employee, customers will be connected to a system of automated directories before speaking to an agent.  Financial institutions will not prompt you to provide banking information or passwords.
  • Know the signs. Fraudsters are creative and prey on victims of all ages. But when you are contacted and asked for your credit card/banking info or to transfer money, it’s best to just say no, no matter what the request. Financial institutions will never ask you to transfer money to external accounts for security purposes.

Remember that everyone is at risk

One in three Canadians have been personally victimized by financial fraud. According to a February 2019 TD Fraud survey, only 18% of Canadians consider themselves very savvy when it comes to being able to identify and detect financial fraud.

If you or someone you know have been a victim to a scam, report it to your local police, as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.