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Common Scams to Know About

The following is information you should know about common scams that target Canadians and seniors in particular.

Types of Scams

Personal Relationship Scam
A scammer convinces someone to enter into a trusting, affectionate relationship with them online. Once trust is earned, the scammer will ask for money.
Grandparent Scam
A scammer calls a senior, claiming to be their grandchild. They’ll then ask the senior to send a money transfer urgently.

Account Lockout
A person receives a fake message from their bank saying that if they don’t click a link, they’ll be locked out of their account with no access to their money. Once they click the link, they’ll be brought to a page asking them to enter their financial information.

Gift Card Scam
A person receives an email or phone call demanding they purchase gift cards or prepaid credit cards to make payments to organizations such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Threatening Calls From the CRA
A scammer is impersonating a CRA employee, and they might sound official since they may be able to provide a badge number. If a payment isn’t made immediately, they may threaten the person with lawsuits or an arrest.

Technical Support Calls
The scammer says they’re calling from a well-known technology company and have detected an error on the person’s computer. They’ll then guide the person to fix the issue. However, in reality, the scammer is hijacking their computer to gather sensitive information or to install ransomware (which requires a payment to unlock a computer’s files).

Fake Charity Appeals
A person is asked to make donations to someone claiming to represent a charity that isn’t actually a real charity. This is generally more common after a natural disaster or other tragedy.

Lottery Scam
A scammer says the person has been randomly selected as the winner of a foreign lottery. However, they must pay taxes or government fees to collect the winnings.

Family Member in Trouble
A scammer claims that a family member is in some kind of trouble and needs money immediately, without providing additional details. 

Bank Fraud Calls
The scammer is calling to alert the person to potential fraud on their account. They’ll ask for sensitive information such as account numbers and passwords.

Warranty, Insurance and Debt Consolidation Scams
The scammer may be selling warranties, confirming insurance information or offering debt consolidation loans with the intent of committing identity theft.

Website Password Requests
The scammer requests the person’s passwords under a number of false pretenses (e.g., technical support or to follow up on suspected fraud).

Identifying a Scam

Scams can come in many different forms, but here are some common signs to help you identify them. If you receive a call, email or text with any of the following characteristics, a scam may be in progress:

  • A request to share personal information
  • The use of threatening language
  • A promise of something in return for doing what’s being asked of you
  • An ask that you pay a small amount to receive an item with a much higher value
  • A request from an unknown contact
  • Someone claiming to represent a company you haven’t heard of or one that sounds suspicious
  • A promotional offer for 0% interest on credit
  • A request for a payment in an unusual way, like with a gift card

Protecting Yourself

Here are some ways you can protect yourself and your account information from scams:

  • Don’t share your usernames or passwords
  • Don’t share personal information like your credit card number, personal identification number (PIN) or answers to common security questions, like your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet
  • Don’t make donations to unsolicited callers