Phone scam using Bell name

If you get a phone call aggressively asking if you want to sign up for Bell Sympatico service that also asks for your personal financial information, hang up—it’s a scam.
Peter Farmer, Ontario director of communications for Bell Canada, said yesterday the company has been investigating telemarketing agents posing as Bell, offering reduced rates on Sympatico Internet service, aggressively pressing people for their personal financial information, and repeatedly calling them back.
“We’re presently working with ‘PhoneBusters’ to help identify who’s doing it,” noted Farmer, adding reports of this particular scam began back in July and seems to be targeting the 807 area code.
“These are not Bell representatives,” he stressed.
Farmer said there’s an easy way to differentiate between the real Bell and a fraudulent telemarketer trying to bilk the public: a request for personal financial information.
“As a responsible marketer, Bell will never ask you for personal financial or credit card information when calling you,” he explained. “The only time we will do so is when setting up pre-authorized payment of your bill at the request of the customer.”
Farmer said fraudulent companies like the one in question also use a great amount of sales pressure.
“These folks are highly pressuring the groups that they’re calling. That’s not something we would do,” he noted. “You get different degrees. There’s a legitimate sales process to close a sale, but it shouldn’t be abusive.
“It shouldn’t be ‘I’m going to call you 15 times’ kind of thing.
“It’s that kind of thing that people are noticing this group is doing that we would never do,” Farmer remarked.
Farmer noted fraudulent telemarketing is an all-too common problem.
“It’s one of those unfortunate things that people have to, first of all, be aware and be careful,” he said. “There’s definitely steps people can take to be careful to protect yourself and your information.
“But it’s one of those unfortunate realities where more and more of these third parties are being criminals and pretending to be someone they’re not,” Farmer warned.
“PhoneBusters” is the Canadian anti-fraud call centre jointly operated by the OPP, RCMP, and Industry Canada’s Competition Bureau.
Its mandate is to provide a national integrated environment for co-ordination of education and strategic practices to disrupt and dismantle fraudulent and illegal mass marketing schemes across Canada.
Telemarketing fraud occurs on a regular basis, and “PhoneBusters” is flooded with calls regularly, said Det. Sgt. Debbie Bell of the Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre, where “PhoneBusters” is based.
“On an average day, we answer about 500 calls a day. Every week, we receive in excess of over 10,000 e-mails coming into us,” she said. “And even then, we’re not keeping up with the demand.
“We have many people who try to get through to us but are unsuccessful because they don’t want to wait. So we’re very busy here.”
“PhoneBusters” offers the public the following several ways to tell the difference between legitimate and fraudulent phone solicitations:
A legitimate company may use pressure as a technique to close the deal but will not get verbally abusive. An illegitimate one will want to force you into providing what they want—and could get verbally abusive.
A legitimate company usually will offer you time to think about an offer while a fraudulent one will pressure you into making a decision if you don’t act now, and may demand an immediate answer.
A legitimate company will provide full references and contact information while a fake may be more reluctant or willing to provide only limited information like a telephone number.
•Mode of payment
A legitimate company normally offers many options for payment; an illegitimate one usually limits transactions to credit card, courier, or wire services.
A legitimate company offers market value while a fraud offers unreasonably low prices with no realistic explanation as to why they’re so low.
Like pricing, a legitimate company offers only incentives and benefits of a reasonable value in order to turn a profit. A fake one makes offers “too good to be true,” says “PhoneBusters.”
When challenged, a legitimate company normally will provide clear explanations that make sense while fraudulent ones often give explanations that are complicated, unclear, and confusing.
If you are contacted by a suspicious telemarketer, “PhoneBusters” suggests the following tips:
•You can ask to have your name removed from the calling list (however, this is not always a guarantee they will, given the illegitimate nature of the calling organization);
•If you’re uncomfortable with the tone or what is being asked, simply hang up;
•Do not provide any personal and financial information on an unsolicited call;
•Avoid making decisions under pressure; and
•Don’t pay anything until you see it in writing (as you would find on your Bell bill, for example).
Those who receive phone calls they believe are fraudulent are encouraged to report them to Bell (1-807-623-6464) or “PhoneBusters” (1-888-495-8501).
“If there’s any type of Canadian content involved in a telemarketing scam, we certainly appreciate having the information so we can put it into our police database,” said Det. Sgt. Bell.
More information can be found on at