How do I avoid being scammed?

Learn how to avoid being the victim of a scheme that puts you and your finances at risk.

What is a scam?

Scams are a type of criminal activity that trick people into giving their personal information or money. Scammers use different ways to try to get in touch with someone they’re targeting, including:

  • phone calls
  • emails
  • text messages
  • social media messages
  • QR codes 

How do I look out for a scam?

There are a number of tactics scammers use to try to get you to give up information. 

Scammers will try to convince you that they are legitimate. They may pretend to be someone you know like a friend or family, or a trusted institution, like a bank, a business, or even the government. For example, you may get a text message from a scammer pretending to be a delivery service that needs your banking info. 

Scammers sometimes create a sense of urgency or desperation. They may try to tell you that if you don’t send over money, you, your friend or your family will get into trouble. They may try to scare you and say if you don’t pay the fee immediately, you’ll be charged even more money or get into trouble with the authorities. Scammers will try to push you to make a quick decision without thinking it through.

Scammers often encourage you to click a link. These links may take you to a page where you enter your personal information, or they may install malware (software that can digitally steal information) on your electronic device. 

Scammers target vulnerable people. These scams take advantage of the fact that certain groups of people may not have as much knowledge about scams as others, and may lack a support system they can lean on to guide them. For example, these types of scammers pretend to be immigration officers to get you to pay fraudulent fees related to the immigration process.  You can find more information on fraud targeting newcomers on the IRCC website.

What do I do if I have already given my information to a scammer?

If you suspect that you are a victim of a scam then you can take some steps to protect yourself

To start:

  1. Review your finances and look for purchases that were not made by you. 
  2. Even if you don’t see money missing, lock any credit or debit cards that you have. Change the password to your online banking and email addresses, and remove cards from things like Apple pay. 
  3. Report the fraud to the police and ask for a police report. Bring the police report to your financial institution. Your financial institution will guide you through any other steps you need to take to protect yourself. 
  4. If you have given identifying information like your SIN or immigration document numbers, then alert the issuing authority as soon as possible and ask for next steps. 

How do I protect myself from being scammed?

Be vigilant when anybody asks for personal information over the phone or internet. There are ways to protect yourself from scams:

  • Do not provide sensitive information over the phone or through a link someone sends you
  • Do not click links from unknown numbers or emails even if the message says you will receive money. 
  • Don’t make any immediate decisions. Tell whoever’s asking for your information that you will call them back later. Find the bank or business’s contact info online, and call them directly to see if they need to talk to you. 
  • Do not agree to pay any fees before verifying on your own if those fees are legitimate. Check your bank statements, receipts, invoices, etc. 
  • If you answer a call and it’s a scammer, hang up right away and block the number.