Service-related scams

The scam

In this type of scam, fraudsters knock on your door or call you and claim they are selling services at bargain rates. These could be telecommunications, Internet services, software, financial, medical, air duct cleaning, or energy services like electricity or natural gas. Some include offers such as extended warranties and insurance.


Narrator: Ever heard this one? Telephone voice: Hello? Mrs Smith?

I’m sorry to tell you, but your COMPUTER is DEATHLY ILL!

It’s on its LAST LEGS! It’s going to die in seconds and you will lose ALL YOUR PERSONAL

INFORMATION!!! Uhhh… can we just take control of your computer

for a minute to...fix it? Narrator: Or how about THIS one?

Telephone voice: Mrs. Smith? This is your lucky day!!

I’m going to singlehandedly lower the interest rate on your credit card.

You’ll save thousands and thousands of dollars… … if you just verify your credit card number

by giving it to me right now!! Narrator: From bogus extended warranties to

door to door sales to high-pressure sales tactics used to scare people

about everything from furnaces to computers to home security, service scams are committed

by crooks trying to get you to believe that a stranger

on the phone… … or a stranger who comes to the door whom

you’ve never met… from an organization you don’t recognize…

should be trusted. You’d think that would never work.

And yet innocent people get burned all the time, compromising their personal information…

and losing their money. How can YOU keep from getting scammed?

Here are two important things: If you're interested in an offer, ask

for ID and KNOW who you're dealing with. And remember: Only your EXISTING service provider

can offer you better rates for their services. Be wary of strangers pressuring you by offering

deals for a limited time. And always ask yourself – If I give my information

to this stranger… am I putting myself at risk?

If the answer is even maybe… say no. Hang up. Close the door.

Watch out for service scams. A message from the Competition Bureau of Canada…

and the Little Black Book of Scams.

Video length: 2 minutes, 03 seconds

How it works

Everyone likes to get a deal and scammers know this. The offer may be presented as a great deal, or the scammer may try to scare you into thinking you will be at risk if you don’t purchase a service. The scammer may try to get you to buy something or to give them your personal or credit card information.

How to spot it

One of the most common is the antivirus software or tech support scam. The scammer promises to repair your computer over the Internet if you give them remote access to your computer or download their software. Payment for the software or repair is typically made by credit card.

Downloading software from an unknown source or allowing someone to remotely access your computer is very risky. Scammers can use this opportunity to put malicious software on your computer that will capture your passwords or bank account or credit card details and other personal information.

Another common trick is the credit card interest rate reduction scam. In this scenario, the scammer impersonates a bank or other financial institution and claims to have negotiated with credit card companies to lower your interest rates. They guarantee they can save you thousands of dollars in interest, but you must act now because the lower rates are for a limited time only.

Sometimes, the call will be automated and prompt you to “press 1” and provide personal information, such as your date of birth, social insurance number (SIN), mother’s maiden name, and credit card number. You may also be asked to use your credit card to pay a one-time service fee. The scammers will then use this information to charge purchases to your credit card or make cash advances.

Protect yourself

  • Remember: Only your service provider, financial institution, or credit card company can give you a better price for their services.
  • Be wary of unsolicited calls from people offering a great deal for a limited time only.
  • Don’t give out your credit card number over the phone unless you made the call and the number came from a trusted source.
  • Ask yourself: By providing the information they are requesting, am I putting myself at risk?
  • If a caller claims to represent your bank, call the bank and find out if the offer is genuine.
  • Most legitimate software companies won’t call you to tell you that your computer is compromised. If you get a call, it’s fake.
  • Protect your computer with antivirus software.
  • Update your software. Most web browsers and computer operating systems include integrated security protections, so it’s important to keep them up to date.
  • Many web browsers have an integrated pop-up blocker that prevents pop-ups from appearing on your screen. Turning this feature on can help protect you from fraudulent offers.

Further reading