Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: la Presse

Fraudulent calls from the Service Canada legal department

If you live in Canada, you need no explanation of that headline. We get those calls several times a week, up to three times in one day. The call display on our phone shows a different number each time, often what appears to be a local number. When we answer, we hear a message that our Social Insurance Number has been detected being used for fraudulent purposes and a warrant has been issued for our arrest. We are urged to press a button to speak to a supervisor to resolve the problem and avoid dire consequences.

Image by Sammy-Williams from Pixabay 

For people outside of Canada, Service Canada is the government agency that administers programs such as Employment Insurance, Old Age Security, the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Child Benefit, etc. Each Canadian is issued a nine digit Social Insurance Number (SIN) to identify ourselves for these programs. Employers need to know our SIN, because they have to make deductions from our paycheque for Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan. Financial institutions from which we receive interest or investment income need to know our SIN in order to report those income amounts to the government. We are not required to provide our SIN to any other organisation, though it is not illegal for them to ask for it.

Most of us know that these calls purporting to come from the legal department of Service Canada are fraudulent. After receiving enough such calls, we hang up as soon as we recognize the familiar voice. Yet over the past three months the people behind this fraud have succeeded in defrauding 779 individuals of a total $1.5 million. These are almost exclusively vulnerable people such as the elderly who tend to believe anyone sounding official, or newcomers to Canada who do not realize that no government department would demand money in such a way.

Tristan Péloquin, a reporter from the Montreal French-language daily la Presse, recently followed the instructions given by the fraudulent caller to be able to tell how it works. If you read French, his article is here. He was told that 25 bank accounts had been opened using his SIN and all were being used for illegal purposes. When he denied having anything to do with such accounts, he was told that his SIN number would be cancelled and a new one issued. But first he would have to withdraw all his money from his bank account, or accounts, place the money in a special holding account and close those accounts. He would then be able to open a new account using the new SIN and transfer the money to that account. Unfortunately, that holding account was a bitcoin account and if he would have followed through the money would have been gone without any means of tracing it.

According to the RCMP, these calls are coming from India and they are working with the police in India. It is complicated and slow work when the fraud is committed in one country and the perpetrators are in a different country. In 2018 they succeeded in getting several fraudulent call centres in India closed and 45 people arrested. No doubt they will eventually succeed this time also, but the fraud is lucrative enough that others will start up using a slightly different line.

Phone companies are working on technology to block these calls. That is complicated when the fraudsters have the means to spoof numbers that appear to be local and keep on changing them. Mr. Péloquin reports that Telus is offering an ingenious option. When a call comes from an unfamiliar number, the caller gets a message asking them to press one additional number on the keypad, any number. A call coming from a robotic dialling device cannot do this and the call aborts. A live caller pushes a number and the call goes through.

Most people are discerning enough not to bite on such threatening phone calls, or on emails offering free gift cards from Canada Post or Walmart. Those emails are trying to obtain personal information for fraudulent purposes. But there are enough people who do not have such an internal warning system to make these scams profitable. I am thankful for news reports like the one in la Presse that help to reduce the number of people vulnerable to such frauds.

Going paperless

In school we learned poems about log drives in Quebec. Loggers worked all winter in the forests and in the spring the logs were floated down the rivers to the paper mills.

That is history, nothing but folklore anymore. There are still lumber mills; there are mills producing tissue paper, computer paper, glossy magazine paper, but the logs are all hauled by truck. And the last newsprint mill in Quebec is closing.

I suppose I am part of the problem. I’m still pretty much a news junkie, but I don’t buy newspapers anymore. I read them on my cell phone.

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Now I can read the daily newspaper from our nearest city, a national English language newspaper, a national French language newspaper, a newsmagazine from France, a provincial French language weekly newspaper, pretty much anything I want to read is available to me on that little device in my pocket.

Paper newspapers are getting thinner, some have died, more will die. Montreal’s La Presse, the largest French language newspaper in North America, does not use paper anymore. It is all available on the internet, and only on the internet.

Think of the money that is saved in the cost of paper, ink and distribution. Not only that, but its reach has greatly expanded. Paper copies of la Presse were never available here in Saskatchewan, unless you wanted to pay for a mail subscription. But then the news would always be stale. And don’t let me get started about the reliability. or lack thereof, of our postal system. Now the news is constantly updated and available to anyone with a cell phone.

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix will not longer deliver paper copies to rural areas. That’s fine, it’s right here in my pocket on my phone. The National Post ceased distribution of paper copies in Saskatchewan a few years ago. No problem. I can’t find l’Eau Vive , a weekly newspaper printed in Regina, anywhere in Saskatoon. I don’t care if they never print another copy, it’s so much handier to read it online.

Moose Jaw is the old home base for our family and I am still interested in what goes on there. The Moose Jaw Times-Herald ceased publication last year after 112 years of daily publication. There is still a bi-weekly newspaper, but something even better has appeared – the Daily Jaw, an online newspaper.

I’m an old guy, old-fashioned and resistant to change. But paperless news is change that I like.

Love, motherhood, joy

Anne Cloutier has a doctorate in socialogy, but chose to be a stay at home mom to her three children. She has recently published a book about her choice, entitled Aimer, Materner, Jubiler. The title of this post is a rough translation of the book title.

Anne Cloutier is not an all-out anti-feminist, but in an interview in the Montréal daily la Presse,  she points out a basic weakness in the arguments of the women’s movement. It’s all very well to champion a woman’s right to be free and independent, but children need their mother. Many women find themselves torn between the needs of their children and the noble sounding theories of feminism. Anne Cloutier’s message is that for a woman to choose to givie herself to the needs of her children is a noble choice.

She says the bond between mother and child is so powerful that it should not be denied in the name of equality. The daughters and grand-daughters of militant feminists are taking stock and realizing that they may be missing something. Women who are not in the work force and not so much in the public eye, are also making real contributions to the well-being of society.

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