What Newcomers to Canada Need to Know about Fraud
Arm yourself against some of the most common scams targeting newcomers.
Did you know that newcomers to Canada are often specifically targeted for fraud? It’s true— there are a few bad apples out there who try to take advantage of immigrants in order to make money in a dishonest way. While fraudsters certainly do not make up the majority in Canada, there is always going to be a certain kind of person who acts in an immoral way. That’s why it is always so important to be aware of their scams.
Since you are new to this country, you might not be familiar with the ways in which companies and the government operate and do business. By knowing exactly how these fraudsters target newcomers, you can stay one step ahead of their scams. Keeping your family—and your hard-earned income— safe from fraud starts with learning about the most common methods.
It is important to remember that an agency or bank’s phone number might appear real and correct on your caller ID. This should not be trusted, as some scammers use “spoofing” technology to fake their number. Always follow the advice below.
Some of the Most Common Scams Aimed at Newcomers:
As long as you know about them, you will know what to do if you suspect that you are being targeted.
You Might Receive a Fake Email
How the scam works – You receive an email from a source that you do not
recognize (or sometimes from a very similar email address to a source you do recognize) asking you to invest money. The email might ask you for more of your personal information or try to get you to reveal the passwords for your online banking accounts.
What you should do – Delete the email as soon as possible. Remember, legitimate investors never send bulk emails to strangers. You should also never respond to emails from a stranger asking you to visit a website and enter personal information. Never, ever give out your personal information (banking details, SIN number, personal details, etc.) unless you know that the website is secure. Do not click on any links, and always check the identity of the sender before you reply.
You Might Encounter Someone Posing as a Government Employee
How the scam works – Someone will pose as a government official and call you on the phone, telling you that you are in trouble for doing something wrong. This could include filing incorrect paperwork or owing back fees or taxes. They might threaten your immigration status, or tell you that your family is also in danger because of your mistake.
Always remember that the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) never:
- contacts people over the phone regarding fees or fines
- acts in an aggressive or threatening way
- asks you to give them your personal information over the phone, including your financial information
- puts pressure on you to pay faster
- asks for your fees to be paid through Western Union, prepaid credit cards, or a Money Gram
- tells you that the police will arrest you over your unpaid fees
- threatens to arrest or deport you or your family
- states that they are going to harm you or damage your property
What you should do – If you get a suspicious call about immigration, ask for the person’s name and then hang up. Call the IRCC Call Centre immediately and ask them if the call was real. If it was not a real call, file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you receive a suspicious call about your taxes (or any taxation matter), hang up and call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281. Ask them if the call was real. If it was not, again, file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
They Could Tell You That You Have a Computer Virus
How the scam works – In this scam, the fraudster might email or call you to tell you that your computer has been infected with a virus. They will then offer to help you remove the virus, and that you could lose all your data without their help. They then attempt to obtain your passwords and important personal information.
What you should do – It is important that you never give access to your passwords or computer to someone you did not contact first. Only have your computer fixed by a professional at a licensed shop. You should also install trusted anti-virus software on your computer.
They Might Offer You Fake Prizes
How the scam works – You receive an email, phone call, or text telling you that you have won a great prize in a contest you did not enter.
What you should do – Any time you get a phone call, email, or text message claiming that you won a contest you did not enter, it is a scam. Delete these messages immediately and never enter your information. The text might ask you to text back with the message “STOP” or “NO” to stop receiving the messages. Do not do this, as it confirms your number is real – different scammers will then start to message you. Instead, forward all such texts to 7726 (this spells out “SPAM” on the keypad). This tells your provider that this is a spam message, and the sender will be blocked from sending you any more messages.
Remember, you can always get in touch with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre if you think you are being targeted by a scammer. This can include if you are being targeted by online dating scams, door-to-door scams, and being sent fake bills. They will be able to help you stay safe and give you even more tips on how to avoid fraudsters.