Creepy new robo call tells Canadians 'time to stay home, stay safe'

There's a creepy new robo call making the rounds in Canada, but its purpose and origin remain unclear. 

After the receiver picks up the call – typically from an 800 number – a pre-recorded robotic female voice says: "This is just a test call. Time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home.” Then the call disconnects. 

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Unlike other scam calls making the rounds right now, like a popular one where the automated recording says they are calling from Service Canada (they are not) and cautioning you that you might be facing legal troubles, the call does not ask anything of the recipient.

Those who received the call said it is a little unsettling. However, you are not alone: People are getting creeped out by this strange phone message from Montreal to Tucson, Arizona.

Reddit thread started in late July in Calgary has come to be a de facto virtual gathering place for those who have gotten "the call."

While some note that the caller's number has the same first three digits as their own, others say the number is way off matching theirs. 

Theories on the purpose of the call run the gamut from the jokey (zombie apocalypse) to possibly political (trying to scare COVID deniers) to an early asteroid warning system - that one's harder to categorize.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) offers guidance on how to avoid unwanted calls, particularly telemarketers, and most phone carriers do offer a block option, though users may find themselves getting the same or similar robo calls from various numbers and amassing a large block list. 

Many people report receiving the "time to stay home" call as many as three to six times in a single day. 

Scam calls or texts have been on the rise in Canada in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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