Reporting telemarketing scams is a daunting prospect

To the Expositor:

One evening, moments after hearing a news report out of MCTV Sudbury regarding a telemarketing duct cleaning company using another legitimate business’s phone number when obtaining contracts, I too received a heavily accented call offering me a deal on duct cleaning in my home.

When asked where his company was situated, he replied that they were currently working in the Blind River area. After refusing his offer, I did a reverse look up of the phone number displayed. It was the number of an individual in Sault Ste. Marie, with a decidedly Anglo name in a residential area.

Wanting to report this incident, I called the toll-free police number. They directed me to the anti-fraud number. I called it and got a recorded message saying to call during business hours. I then called the local police. They gave me the anti-fraud number but did not want to hear the report.

The next morning I called the anti-fraud department again. After a long wait, a rather impatient person came on and directed me to the toll free Ministry of Consumer Services. There I listened to an extensive list of options, all apparently about avoiding fraud and recourse should it happen, but thankfully came to the “speak to a person” option.

I asked, “Is this the place to report a telemarketing scam?”

“No, let me give you the anti-fraud number,” they replied.

“I was just speaking to them and they directed me to you.”

“That’s funny, was it 1-888-495-8501?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Did they hear your complaint?”

“No, they just directed me to you.”

“Hmmm that’s strange. Well let me give you another number. 1-877-249-2782.”

“Who is that?” I asked.

“The CRTC.”

“Is it a specific department?”

“No, but they will direct you.”

A hardier person than myself might have pursued it, but at that point, I chose to drop it—seemed I was getting further and further away from anybody who might follow up with any kind of an investigation, apprehension, or ending the fraudulent practice.

Is it that there are so many telemarketing shenanigans that the anti-fraud squad has already heard them all? Are they overwhelmed? Is it that there is not much that can be done about it?

Whatever the case, for the annoyed recipients of any-time-of the-day-or-evening telemarketing ploys, it is doubly troubling to get the impression that reporting it is futile.

Faye Stevens

Little Current