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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

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.

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.

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.

Fake merchant scam
A scammer sets up a fake business and offers too-good-to-be-true deals, or impersonates a legitimate business. In this case, you may not get the goods or services you bought, and the purchase may compromise your card and account information.

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. 

Fine-print scam
A merchant or ad will offer you a deal or service for a small fee. However, after paying that fee, you’ll be charged for a recurring transaction. The scammer may justify the recurring transaction by hiding subscription information deep in the fine print.

Gift card scam
A scammer poses as a well-known company, person or organization, such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and asks you to pay for goods or services with gift cards. Sometimes, the scammer will even hack into the email account of someone you know and then ask you to buy gift cards for them.

Grandparent scam
A scammer calls a senior, claiming to be their grandchild. They’ll then ask the senior to send a money transfer urgently.

Impersonation scam
A scammer poses as Capital One and asks you to provide your personal information, with the intent of gaining access to your account without you realizing it. Capital One agents will never ask you for your PIN or CVC (the 3-digit number on the back of your

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.

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.

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).

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.

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 respond to any requests asking for your personal information
  • If you suspect a scam, call us using the number on the back of your card
  • Research the seller and their products before making a purchase
  • Don’t purchase gift cards on behalf of others or as a method of payment