I’ve written about spam calls before but thought I’d bring you up to date with the latest scams and developments.

The term “robocall” is used to describe automated calls, where a recorded message is played back when you answer the phone.   Robocalling was in the news this week as one of the more prolific Robocall Spammers was convicted in the US.   Adrian Abromovich was fined $120 million by the US FCC for placing over 96 million robocalls.

What made this scam even worse was the fact he was using a system called “neighbour spoofing”.   Neighbour spoofing, changes the incoming telephone number so that it looks like it’s coming from someone locally.   You’re probably more likely to answer a call from your area than you are a call from the US.

Abromovich’s robocalls were disguised to appear as though they were from reputable companies such as Marriot, Hilton or Trip Advisor, selling vacation and timeshare packages.   It was actually Trip Advisor who caught wind of these calls and privately investigated them – eventually uncovering Abromovich as the guy behind the operation.

Unfortunately, things seem to be getting worse.   In 2017 in the US, there were 375,000 complaints per month about robocalls.  This is up from 63,000 per month in 2009.   This growth is driven by the increase in availability for cheap internet calling and the ability to spoof phone numbers.   In 2017 the most popular topic for these calls was debt reduction, but others include travel/vacations, medication, warranties.

Even worse is the increase in “imposter” calls.   These are calls that pretend to be from businesses or government agencies.   I was speaking to a business customer today who receives several automated calls a day from Google, warning them about their business listing on the search pages. These calls are nothing to do with Google – they’re a scam and are simply designed to hook you in via scare tactics.    The same goes for automated calls from Revenue Canada.   They try and scare you into thinking that you owe tax money, but it’s all a scam.

Due to the nature of my business, the calls I hear about most often are those from “Microsoft” or companies who are calling to alert you to viruses on your computer.   I hate these.   I’ve had so many customers duped by these calls.   The callers are really persistent and often almost aggressive.  They insist that you have a virus on your computer and it’s imperative that they get on immediately and fix the problem.   In fact, there’s no virus (yet), but as soon as they get access to your computer, they’ll put one on for you!   I’ve also seen them put a password on the computer, so you can no longer use it unless you pay them for it.  Even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll give you the password as they already have your money.

And trust me – if you’ve ever tried calling Microsoft or Google, there’s nobody there who wants to talk to you on the phone.

So what can you do?

Well there’s a government Do-Not-Call list you can register your number with that stops robocallers from calling you.   You can register for this here:


Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop scammers from far away countries from calling you, but it might cut down on some of the calls.

My best advice is to just be aware of these scammers and watch out for the calls.  If you’ve received scam calls, spread the word, as chances are your neighbours will be receiving the same soon.

Until next time, get ready to hang up on scammers!