These home service scams are making its rounds in southern Ontario


Published May 12, 2024 at 5:12 pm

Carleton Court

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre—a trusted source for alerting the public to emerging scams— is raising alarms about an uptick in schemes related to home services and equipment.

According to the CAFC, fraudsters contact victims through social media advertisements, telemarketing calls, and door-to-door sales.

The CAFC  is particularly cautioning the public against offers claiming to provide grants, equipment, or services significantly below market value which can often be misleading or fraudulent.

Here are the latest scams making its rounds in southern Ontario:

Home services and equipment

Fraudsters will offer their victims unusually low rates on home services such as air duct cleaning, furnace or boiler repairs, paving, and general home maintenance.

However, if these services are completed, they often result in low-quality work, invalid warranties, and repairs that could pose potential risks to homeowners.

Internet, cable or cellphone service providers

In this scenario, fraudsters will pose as representatives from internet, cable, or cellphone service providers and may contact individuals with offers that seem too good to be true.

These scammers typically ask for personal information such as Social Insurance Numbers and driver’s license numbers, which they then use for identity fraud, including ordering cellphones under the victim’s identity.

In some cases, they may even send a cellphone to the victim, claim it was the wrong model, and instruct the victim to send it back, directing it to an address controlled by the fraudsters.

The CAFC advises that if you receive such a call, hang up, look up the company’s official number, and call back to verify the claim.

Assistance with government documents

Scammers create websites charging fees to assist with obtaining government documents such as passports and birth certificates or booking driver’s road tests. They often claim to offer faster processing times or other guarantees.

The CAFC says it is important to note that the forms required to receive these government identifications are free, and no service can legitimately expedite the process.

Immigration services

This is another case where scammers set up fraudulent websites and online advertisements that claim to offer inexpensive immigration services or even guarantee high-paying jobs.

Many of these sites are designed to mimic official government websites.

Individuals are advised to be cautious of any site requesting payment for application access fees or deposits before the application process begins.

Pardon or criminal waivers

In other situations, scammers create fake websites to charge the victim fees to assist with receiving a pardon or criminal record waiver, often promising expedited processing times or other guarantees.

The CAFC says it’s important to understand that the forms needed to apply for a pardon are freely available, and no service can legitimately accelerate the waiver process.

Scammers often claim that a virus has infected your computer through alarming website pop-ups urging an urgent call or via unsolicited phone calls, sometimes pretending to be employees from well-known companies like Microsoft.

They may assert that your computer is sending out viruses or has been hacked and request remote access to fix the issue.

During this, they might run programs or alter settings. Ultimately, they will ask for payment to repair your computer, usually through credit card or direct bank transfers.

The CAFC provides the following tips to safeguard individuals from falling victim to such scams:

Do Not Be Pressured: Avoid being swayed by high-pressure sales tactics. If a telemarketer pushes you to make a quick decision

  • Request detailed information in writing.
  • Feel free to hang up.
  • Be cautious of urgent requests that manipulate your emotions.

Conduct Thorough Research: Always ensure that any organization you engage with is legitimate.

  • Check if Canadian charities are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Verify collection agencies through the appropriate provincial agency.
  • Search online for the company’s contact details and call them directly to confirm any claims.
  • For credit card-related queries, call the number on the back of your card.

If you receive distress calls from family members, verify the situation by talking to other relatives.

Be Cautious with Personal Information: Be wary of unsolicited calls asking for personal details such as your name, address, birthdate, Social Insurance Number, or financial information.

  • Remember, if you did not initiate the call, you cannot be sure of the caller’s identity.

Verify Before You Act: Be alert to misleading advertisements and emails.

  • Always confirm the legitimacy of the company and its services before engaging.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, fraud, or cybercrime, should contact your local police as soon as possible.

It is also recommended that you report the instance of a scam, fraud or cybercrime, whether you are a victim or not, to the CAFC.

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