Common Scams in Canada: Protect Yourself and Stay Informed

12 February, 2024

Common Scams in Canada: Protect Yourself and Stay Informed

Scams are an unfortunate reality in Canada. Being a relatively affluent country, Canadians become enticing targets for scammers from abroad. Additionally, there are domestic scammers within Canada who devise schemes to catch unsuspecting individuals off guard. Moreover, there are scammers who specifically target immigrants, both within and outside Canada. In this post, we will delve into common scams within these categories to empower ourselves to outsmart these scammers together.


Top Scams in Canada


  1. Online Purchase Scams


Nearly one-third of reported scams in 2022, in both Canada and the US, were linked to online purchases. These scams typically involve non-existent products or items of extremely poor quality.


Examples of common online purchase scams encompass pet scams, counterfeit pet supplies, fraudulent digital device sales, and deceptive vehicle listings.


  1. Job Scams


Job scams pose significant risks as they frequently lead to victims losing substantial sums of money, typically around $1,500 USD or $2,000 CAD. Young adults aged 18-24, including participants in the International Experience Canada (IEC) program and international students, are particularly vulnerable to these schemes.


Here's a typical scenario of how these scams unfold:


  • False Home Office Equipment Reimbursement:


You receive a cheque from someone claiming to be an employer, supposedly to cover home office equipment expenses. They request you to return the funds via online transfer initially. However, the cheque will eventually bounce, resulting in the loss of your money. Sometimes, you may even be asked to attend an interview and sign a letter of acceptance, making the process appear legitimate. Always be cautious if your new employer requests money from you.


  • Identity Theft through Fake Applications:


Someone offers you a position and requests you to fill out an application form. The application seeks personal information such as your birthdate, Social Insurance Number (SIN), or a photograph of your driver's license. After obtaining this information, they claim they are no longer hiring or simply stop communicating (ghost you). This could be an attempt to steal your identity.


  • Work Permit Fee Scam:


An offshore company offers you a job opportunity but requires you to pay a work permit fee upfront. Be wary of such offers, as legitimate employers typically cover work permit fees for their employees.


  • Job Training or Registration Fee Scam:


Scammers lure individuals with promises of lucrative jobs but demand payment for 'training' or 'registration fees' upfront. Exercise caution and thoroughly research any job offers that require you to pay money before starting employment. Legitimate job opportunities do not typically require candidates to pay for training or registration.


Exercise caution whenever an employer requests you to transfer funds or spend money upfront. Such requests are often indicative of scams. Additionally, watch out for other warning signs of employment scams, such as a rushed or non-existent recruitment process, vague job descriptions, or offers of exceptionally high incomes for unskilled work.


  1. Phone Calls Scams


Phone call scams are prevalent in Canada and encompass various types, including:


  • Tech Support Scams:


Scammers claim to be able to remove viruses or provide technical support for a fee.


  • Emergency Scams:


Callers fabricate emergency situations involving a loved one, such as being locked up for a DUI or needing urgent medical treatment. They then request payment to assist the supposed victim.


  • Cleaning or Home Support Services Scams:


Cold callers immediately ask for credit card details to provide cleaning or home support services, often without prior solicitation.


  • CRA Scams:


Scammers impersonate Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officials and demand immediate payment for alleged tax debts. They may threaten legal action or penalties if payment is not made promptly.


  • Bank Scams:


Fraudsters posing as bank or credit card representatives coerce victims into transferring funds immediately to prevent fictitious financial losses.


Always exercise caution and verify the authenticity of unexpected phone calls, especially if they involve requests for personal or financial information or demand immediate payments. Legitimate organizations typically do not conduct business in such coercive or urgent manners over the phone.


If you receive a call like this, it's advisable to hang up immediately. If you're concerned that it might have been a legitimate call, take the extra step to look up the company or government department's number online via a reputable source and initiate the call back yourself.


Here are some other quick tips to avoid falling victim to phone scams:


  • Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers.

  • Refrain from responding to questions that ask for personal information, even seemingly harmless inquiries like "Is this Mr. So-and-so?"

  • Exercise caution when returning calls to unknown numbers. Some scams exploit curious callers by charging exorbitant fees, sometimes hundreds of dollars per minute. It's generally safer to return calls from unknown numbers only if they've left a voicemail.


Scams in Canada Targeting Immigrants


  1. Housing Scams


The housing shortage in Canada has been making headlines in recent months and is a significant factor behind the cap on international student permits in 2024.


Regrettably, some scammers are taking advantage of the tight rental market, disproportionately impacting young adults (including international students).


Typically, this scam involves a fraudulent 'landlord' who posts photos of a rental property online and then requests various fees, such as rental application fees, the rental deposit, and the first and last month's rent.


This scam is particularly deceptive because it closely mimics the legitimate rental process. Moreover, the fake landlords often have access to high-quality photos, as real properties with virtual walkthroughs are frequently published online.


Here are some essential tips to safeguard yourself:


  • Hold off on paying any fees until you've met the landlord (or their agent) in person at the rental property. It's crucial to physically see the property before sending any money to the landlord. If visiting the property isn't feasible, consider asking someone you trust to inspect it on your behalf.


  • Reserve the use of cash transfer apps for monthly rental payments only after you've moved into the property. Scammers often prefer cash transfer apps, so it's wise to insist on making rental payments directly to the landlord's bank account.


  • Conduct thorough online research. Utilize reverse image search tools to verify if the property is advertised in multiple cities or across provinces. Additionally, compare the property's appearance with Google Street View to ensure consistency.


  • Exercise caution if an offer appears too good to be true – it likely is. Trust your instincts and be vigilant for signs of potential scams.


  1. Guaranteed Entry or Fast Processing Scams


Numerous scams target aspiring immigrants to Canada, with fake websites claiming to guarantee entry to Canada or expedite the processing of immigration applications. It's important to recognize that these claims are always fraudulent, even if the websites appear official or formal.


  1. Fake Immigration Consultants


Fraudulent activity is a significant issue in Canadian immigration, with a considerable number of individuals posing as immigration consultants. They make promises of high-quality services, often guaranteeing entry or job offers, in exchange for an upfront fee.

Therefore, it is important to find an immigration firm that you can trust, with regulated consultants, as e-Visa Immigration. Our team is ready to assist you whenever you need, at any time of your process.

Book an appointment with our specialists and check your eligibility!

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