Sylvan Lake officials and RCMP are warning residents of a scam affecting some in the area.
According to RCMP, scammers are contacting the public through phone calls and identifying themselves as employees of the Town. In some cases they are using legitimate names and titles of Town employees.
The caller asks residents to take a “Town of Sylvan Lake survey” where they are asked to give up personal, private information. The scammers are asking for information such as birth date, social insurance number or banking information as part of the “survey”.
“Every year we see Sylvan Lakers lose thousands and thousands of dollars to scammers. Sometimes scammers try to build trust by being kind or building a relationship by contacting their victims several times – other times, scammers threaten or intimidate,” said Sgt. Andrew Shepherd, with the Sylvan Lake RCMP.
The Town of Sylvan Lake does not call residents for bill payments. Bill payments through the town are never done over the phone, through email or e-transfer.
Any outstanding payments are always done through personal banking or in person, according to a press release from the Town.
The Sylvan Lake RCMP have given a few tips to protect yourself and others in your life:
- Never give your personal or banking information out over the phone unless you initiated the call, and it is an established, credible organization you know you can trust.
- No legitimate government agency or business will demand payment in gift cards or prepaid credit cards. Only scammers use this untraceable payment method.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming you owe money, independently verify the information by hanging up, looking up Canada Revenue Agency (or the appropriate agency), and calling them directly. Do not call back to a number given out by the person calling you.
- Don’t give in to pressure to act immediately, whether the caller is claiming you owe money, offering a deal, asking for a donation or saying you’ve won something – any legitimate business or agency will give you time to think.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Ask questions, demand proof.
- No lottery demands a payment up front before you can claim your prize.
- Refuse high pressure appeals. Legitimate businesses won’t push you to make a decision on the spot.
By using “number spoofing,” scammers can make it look like their call is coming from a local number or the number of a business or agency, thus misleading you as to where they are located.
“Everyone needs to take responsibility to educate and share these types of warnings about fraud, especially those you think are more vulnerable to scams,” said Shepherd. “When in doubt – call the RCMP at 403 858 7200.”