BETTER Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland BC announced on Monday that it has been made aware of malicious phone calls targeting local businesses. The caller claims to be from ‘Better Business Bureau Vancouver’ and is asking businesses about their plans to move. In April 2015, there was a similar scam where the caller claimed to be representing ‘BC Business Development Office, formerly BBB’. However, our investigations showed that no such organization existed.
“Naturally, we are concerned about the resurgence of this scam as BBB’s name as an agency trusted by both businesses and consumers is being used to deceive businessowners into sharing information”, said Karla Davis, Manager for Community and Public Relations at BBB.
Based on the reports BBB has received, the callers appear to be collecting information about the businesses, such as the size of their operation, number of employees and whether the business has intentions to relocate.
“These calls are not only annoying and invasive, but the use of BBB’s name is illegal. The information being requested by the callers suggests that this scam is likely to be either a strategy to generate sales leads for moving companies, prior to the start of the moving season in May or part of a directory scam,” said Davis.
How the directory scam works:
Scammers call companies claiming to represent a business or organization, whether real or fabricated. When the scammer gets someone from the business on the phone, he or she may claim to be updating their directory or contact list and ask for basic information, such as the business address and telephone number, as well as if the business has plans to relocate. The scammer will then repeat the information and prompt the employee to confirm the listing.
A few weeks later, the business will receive an invoice for several hundred dollars for an advertisement or listing in the directory. When the business calls to complain, they may be informed that an employee verbally confirmed the placement. In many cases, the scammer even plays back a spliced version of the previous conversation with the employee. The altered recording makes it sound like the employee agreed to the charge, when, in fact, he or she was simply confirming the accuracy of the information.
Davis explained: “These scam calls have been happening on and off for several years, and in some instances, they have even pretended to be from Canada Revenue Agency or some other government office that is doing a survey”. The numbers that show up on your call display are usually spoofed – that is, the real number calling you has been masked or disguised to look like another number – and are therefore difficult to track. Any attempt to call back the number will likely find a busy signal or you may end up speaking with the victim whose number was used as the mask in the spoofing.
Advice to the public
BBB is encouraging the public to:
1. Ignore these calls, and if you do speak to someone and they start asking these types of questions, just hang up.
2. Do not provide any information, as you may end up getting a follow-up call from a moving company or worse, receive an invoice for a directory ad or listing you did not want.
3. Businessowners should ensure that their staff, especially those processing invoices or answering phone calls, are aware of these scams.
4. Encourage your staff to ask questions and keep information private until the legitimacy of a caller can be verified. Immediately end the call if danger is perceived or if any threats have been made.
If you have any concerns about this or any other scam, contact BBB at (604) 682-2711 or visit its website at bbb.org to file a report on Scam Tracker.