A few weeks ago, I was blitzed by scammers. I must have received half a dozen calls in 24 hours from various barking idiots telling me the Canada Revenue Agency was on my case or that my social insurance number had been compromised.
I hang up right away when I get calls like this, but some people don’t. CBC recently reported on a Cornwall, Ont., woman who lost $4,000 to a “SIN scam” that involved a phone call from someone who identified himself as an RCMP investigator and directed her to secure her savings by transferring the money onto gift cards.
Scam phone calls, e-mails and texts are a constant problem and getting worse. New technology allows scammers to fabricate caller IDs so they appear to be calling from police departments, for example. Canada’s telecom regulator has asked telecom providers to introduce measures that block these scams, but they won’t take effect immediately.
What can you do to protect yourself in the meantime? Veteran personal finance writer and consumer advocate Ellen Roseman offers some suggestions that include letting unknown callers leave a message and asking your wireless provider about call management features that may let your route unknown or spam calls to your voicemail.
I’m starting to wonder if it’s smart to just hang up on anyone who claims to be calling from the government or police forces and asks you do anything out of the ordinary. A thread on Twitter recently shows that CRA does occasionally call people by phone.
They do . . . call people. They've called me about my own return, more than once!— Alexandra Macqueen, CFP (@MoneyGal) December 6, 2019
But surely CRA and the police know that scammers are running amok out there, and that people have been briefed to not give out any personal information. At the first hint of unusual requests or bullying behavior, put the phone down because you’re almost certainly talking to a crook. You can always call the agency in question directly to see if they really need to reach you.
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Rob’s personal finance reading list…
You and the new federal government tax cut
The Liberal government’s first major post-election move is to gradually raise the basic personal amount, which is the amount of money you can earn before you have to start paying taxes, to $15,000 in 2023 from $12,069 in 2019. Here’s how this move might affect your after-tax income.
Tips to cut holiday season financial stress
I have rejected many such lists for inclusion here because they’re lame and a waste of your time. But I liked this one because it addresses the issue of what people might think of you if you’re a frugal spender during the holiday season.
Condo insurance rates are soaring
If your condo fees increased a lot this year, chances are good that global warming is a root cause. Property insurers are either dropping out of providing commercial insurance for condo buildings, or boosting their premiums. The reason is that losses due to severe weather events are on the rise. Home owners are seeing the same premium trend in their home insurance premiums.
Best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
The RewardsCanada website keeps a list of credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees, which usually set at 2.5 per cent. Here’s a list of top picks from among the cards on that list.
Q: Can the out-of-country insurance your credit card supplies be enough for a month holiday in Spain?
A: I’m going to presume here that you mean out-of-country medical insurance, and then advise that you read a column I wrote recently on this topic. The headline answers your question directly: Taking a vacation? Think twice about relying on your credit card’s travel medical insurance
Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.
Today’s financial tool
Find out how different blends of stocks and bonds would have protected your portfolio in the worst stock market crashes of the past few decades.
In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories
- Finally, the cost of getting a reverse mortgage in Canada is getting cheaper
- U.S. tax-filing requirements that Americans living in Canada should know
- Gordon Pape’s Buy and Hold Portfolio continues to blow past expectations (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
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