Scams and Spam: How to Identify Malicious Calls and Protect Yourself

  • June 14, 2022
  • Author: Keith Young

Scam calls are all-too common. People take advantage of others’ trust for their own gain and leave them high and dry – some people have lost their entire pension as a result of these scams. 

How can you protect yourself from these dangerous scams – and educate your loved ones to protect themselves as well?


Identifying a Malicious Call

When you get a call, it’s important that you can identify their intentions. Many well-meaning people get scammed because they trust callers at their word – that they are who they say they are. 

Taking the time to learn how scammers operate can quite literally save you a  fortune.


Characteristics of a malicious call

Scam calls have a number of identifying qualities that make it easier to recognize them. Here are some of the biggest ones.


Automated Voice

Many scammers use an automatic message in their calls. If you hear a robotic, pre-recorded message, there’s a good chance that you’re being called by a scammer.

The message may also ask you to press a button on your phone – maybe they’ll say “press 1 to talk to a sales rep” or “press 2 to unsubscribe from our call list”. 

Do not press any buttons – that confirms to them that they’ve reached a real person, and you may be put on a hotlist, which will be sold to even more scammers. Nobody wants to get any more scam calls than they already do.



Scam callers may try to intimidate you into doing what they want. If a caller starts yelling at you or insulting you, they don’t have your best interests in mind. 

Hang up immediately if a caller starts getting aggressive.



Scam callers will also try to apply pressure and force your hand. Many will threaten arrest or threaten to send the police – especially if they’re pretending to be a government agency such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The CRA will never threaten you with arrest or a prison sentence to make you comply.


Demanding immediate payment via unusual methods

Typical payment methods are too risky for scammers to use. 

If your caller wants payment via e-transfer, prepaid credit cards. gift cards, cryptocurrency (such as bitcoin), or any other unusual payment methods, they’re trying to get payment through a less trackable method so that they aren’t discovered by law enforcement.


Planning a meeting in public to receive payment

Government agencies have facilities that you can visit – there’s no need for them to meet you in a cafe or park. 

Scammers may want to receive payment in person because it’s less trackable. And they’ll want to meet you in a public place to keep their “base of operations” private.

Don’t go for a public meeting to pay anyone – there’s a near-zero chance that they have good intentions.


Asking for personal/financial information by email 

Getting private info over email is an easy and effective way to steal from unsuspecting victims. If a caller asks you to email them any personal info, don’t do it.


Sending links by email

Rather than having you send them information directly in an email, scammers may send you a link that leads to a form for you to fill out.

Don’t click on links in emails unless you are absolutely certain that you can trust the sender – and never enter personal info of any kind into forms that you get linked into through a suspicious email.


Long-distance calls

Some scammers call from a long distance number and don’t say anything or hang up. Their intention is for you to call them back and get charged long-distance fees – which they actually get revenue shared money from. 

If you get a long-distance call from a number that you don’t recognize, and it just goes dead or hangs up, don’t call them back – just ignore it.


Register your number on the National Do Not Call List

The National Do Not Call List is also known as the DNCL.

Registering your number on the National Do Not Call List will cut down on the number of telemarketing calls you receive. You can register with your residential, wireless, fax and VoIP phone numbers.   

Use this link:!/

If you’re a telemarketer yourself, you have to follow the UTR (Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules). Telemarketers also have to register with, and pay to use the DNCL.

Registering your number on the DNCL will decrease the number of malicious calls you get – and now that you know what to look for in a phone call, you’ll be able to notice those calls right away.

Armed with this knowledge, you can take every call with confidence.

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