Steering Clear of Scams: Common Scams in Canada You Should Beware Of

In this article, we’ll explore the three most common scams in Canada, including telephone and email scams, rental fraud, and romance scams, and provide some specific recommendations to help you see through these scams, protecting your safety and interests.

In our world today, technological advancements and an unbounded flow of information have brought convenience to our lives in many ways. Yet, they have also given rise to an issue: the rapid spread of fraudulent activities. Internet scams, telephone scams, and various other types of fraud permeate our daily lives. Globally, no place is completely immune to these threats, including Canada, often considered to be a peaceful and secure country.

In recent years, the trend of fraudulent activities in Canada has been on the rise. This affects not only the local residents but also those who choose to work, study, or live in Canada. According to statistics from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, as of March 31, 2023, there have been 18,645 reported scams, resulting in a loss of 133.7 million Canadian dollars. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and learn to identify and prevent scams.

1. Telephone and Email Scams

These scams involve various methods, including phishing or impersonating calls. The scammers may pretend to be your bank, alerting you to unusual transactions, or impersonate government departments like the Canada Revenue Agency, Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada, or Canada Border Services Agency. They may ask for personal or financial information or threaten you with fines, taxes, bail, etc. Many scams are executed through text messages or emails to steal personal financial information or demand payment. Even official-looking numbers can be fraudulent or spoofed.

Prevention Tips

Remember that legitimate institutions will never ask for passwords, card numbers, social security numbers, or other sensitive information through calls, emails, or texts. Contact them directly through their official website instead of the information provided in the suspicious message.

2. Rental Scams

A common method is for scammers to advertise properties online at far below market prices to attract renters. They may use fake or stolen photos and claim they cannot meet in person due to being out of town. They request rent or deposit payments through anonymous means, and once paid, they disappear, leaving you to find the property does not exist.

Prevention Tips

Visit the property before payment, meet with the landlord, verify their identity, and sign a formal lease. Be suspicious if the price is too low or if anonymous payment methods are requested.

3. Romance scams

Romance scams are one of the most devastating types of fraud in Canada, both financially and emotionally. Fraudsters create fake profiles on dating apps or websites, or use social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, to target lonely or vulnerable people looking for love or companionship. They may use attractive photos and flattering messages to gain your trust and affection. They may also claim to be from another country or working overseas, and ask you for money to help them with travel expenses, medical emergencies, legal issues, or other personal problems.

Prevention Tips

  • Be careful when communicating with someone you met online. Do not reveal too much personal or financial information until you know them well. Do not send intimate photos or videos that could be used for blackmail.
  • Be skeptical of anyone who professes their love too quickly or too strongly. Do not fall for sob stories or pressure tactics. Do not send money or gifts to someone you have never met in person.
  • Use reverse image search tools such as Google Images or TinEye to check if the photos they use are stolen from someone else. Use video calls or voice calls to verify their identity and appearance.
  • Report any suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or website, as well as to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

While scam methods are diverse, most share a common point: they aim to steal your personal information or coax you into making incomprehensible payments. The key to prevention is staying alert and thoroughly examining any party before divulging personal or financial information.

Avoid believing strangers’ sweet words or seemingly unreasonable promises. Do not reveal your personal or financial details carelessly, and don’t make hasty decisions under pressure or temptation. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is a scam.

If you think you might be targeted or have been scammed, cease all contact with the individual and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre immediately. This is the best way to protect yourself and others from harm. By understanding and staying alert to these behaviors, we can safeguard ourselves and ensure financial security.