You would think with a pandemic on, scammers would have given it a rest but quite the contrary.
They are hard at it as ever if not more. I created this post in February but it took a back seat when quarantine started.
I’ve refreshed it to include the scams I’ve encountered during the quarantine period.
Unfortunately, most newcomers, as well as Canadians, come into contact with one or more of these scams multiple times.
However, newcomers are more vulnerable to it and specifically targeted.
Newcomers to Canada Scams
1. CRA Scam
I started receiving this kind of call 2 days after I procured a Canadian sim card. The frequency has only increased over the last few months.
Basically, scammers call you and claim you owe the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) money after an audit and you need to pay the outstanding immediately.
Failure to pay is followed by a threat of immediate arrest. I laughed because I doubted I owed anyone in Canada money after spending only 2 days here.
As preposterous as this sounds, it works very effectively.
A look at the Canada Anti-Fraud Center will show how pervasive this practice is. I usually block the number and keep it moving.
You can also report fraud by calling 1-888-495-8501 (toll-free) or online.
Another good practice – contact the CRA directly and find out if you owe them money.
Never ever provide your personal details to anyone over the phone.
2. Job Scams
Scammers in this category are very aware many newcomers are desperate for jobs ASAP.
They lurk on online recruitment websites like Monster and Indeed and try to get you to pay for certain things to secure the job.
How do they find your details? They scour these websites for uploaded CVs then pretend they’re recruiters to get access to your information.
You should not be paying anyone to secure a job. Period. If someone wants money in exchange for a job, run.
Another great way to crack this scam is to search for the company on LinkedIn.
If they’re recruiting, you will find this info on LinkedIn. You can also search for the person trying to recruit you.
If it looks too good to be true, run.
3. Apartment Rental Scams
I will write a larger article on this because this type of scam has so many variations, it’s preposterous.
Newcomers are targeted because they know you’re desperate to find a place and settle down ASAP.
The most popular variation of this scam is the landlord that isn’t in Canada but wants you to wire them the money so they can send someone with the key to you.
Yes, people fall for this regularly. These scammers use websites like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace to find victims.
Never ever give anyone money for an apartment you haven’t seen. If the rent is suspiciously low for the area, this is another sign of a scam.
When I rented my first living space, we agreed on a day and time to meet in the apartment.
We both signed the agreement, I received the keys and entry fob then I transferred the first and last month rent online.
The government of Canada shares the most popular warning signs you’re about to be scammed HERE.
4. Compromised Social Insurance Number (SIN)
I applied for my SIN at the airport when I landed in Canada. I remember the guy telling me several times to guard the number.
I took that advice very seriously. Guard your SIN number and never give the details to just anyone.
Very few people need that information – bank, govt services, and work. Landlords might also ask but I usually refuse to give it.
The form of this scam – people pretending to work for the government call you and say there’s a problem with your SIN and they need to reconfirm the number.
You are asked to provide your SIN, DOB, and other pertinent information making you a prime target for identity theft.
Sometimes, they also send emails requesting this information. Do not provide your personal information to anyone over the phone and do not click on links in emails or text messages.
5. Lottery Winner Scam
You receive a call or text message informing you you’ve won the lottery and congratulating you.
Did you enter any contests? If you didn’t, it’s a scam. If you did, they won’t be asking you for personal details over the phone to confirm your winnings.
Do not respond. Do not engage. Ignore them or block the number.
You can forward scam text messages to 7726, which lets your phone provider block future texts from the numbers.
6. COVID-19 Scam / CERB Scam
This is a scam that originated with the pandemic. Even during a pandemic, evil finds its way.
There are many variations of this scam such as but not limited to:-
- Receiving text messages telling you you’ve been approved for CERB and you need to take urgent action to receive your money
- Companies offering to fill out CERB applications for you
- People using your identity to sign up for CERB
- Fraudulent charities requesting funds for COVID19 victims
Just look at the staggering COVID-19 fraud numbers below within a few short months.
Good grief! You can find a full list of COVID-19 / CERB scams HERE. Again, never ever give out your personal information over the phone.
How to Protect Yourself from Scam & Fraud as a Newcomer
Apart from my recommendations above, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center shares a guide for protecting yourself as an individual and as a business HERE.
The Government of Canada also shares what to do when you get suspicious communication as a newcomer HERE.
Every newcomer should go through the links above thoroughly so you’re properly informed to recognize and deal with these scammers when they contact you.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s a scam.