Welcome to Canada … and beware of scammers


    As thousands of Canadian newcomers prepare to take their oath of citizenship during Canada Day ceremonies, BBB is warning immigrants and new Canadians that scammers are always ready for new targets.

    “Sadly, scammers prey on immigrants who aren’t familiar with our language, legal system and other areas of western culture and try to take advantage of their trust and money,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “Sometimes newcomers don’t want to speak up to ask questions as they may feel embarrassed to come forward if they do find themselves caught in a scam. That’s why BBB is helping to educate the newcomer community.”

    As part of BBB’s Savvy Consumer education program, BBB developed a Savvy Newcomers program highlighting scams targeting immigrants, teaching them how to check out a company’s marketplace reputation and what kind of recourse newcomers have if they’ve been taken advantage of.

    Here are some common newcomers scams:

    • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Scam: In 2016, the CRA scam cost Canadians $4.3 million. That’s up from $2.9 million in 2015. Scammers impersonate the CRA and usually target newcomers with aggressive phone calls or emails claiming they owe the government money. If they don’t pay, the scammers threaten the newcomer with deportation, to be thrown in jail or even have their kids taken away from them.

    • Employment Scams: A variety of different types including mystery shopper jobs, work-from-home opportunities, companies that require you to buy materials or pay to work there, or companies that ask for your social insurance number or other personal information before they hire you.

    • Rental Scams: Fraudsters renting properties that aren’t theirs or don’t exist.

    • Passport/Identification Fraud: Scammers impersonating people in positions of authority such government officials, lawyers and immigration consultants.

    • Dating and Marriage Scams: Fraudsters initiating romantic relationships online or in person for the sole purpose of taking the victim’s money.

    How Scammers Contact Newcomers:

    • In Person: Affinity scams are often conducted in person by someone you know. These scams exploit trust and friendship.

    • Over the Phone: Examples include grandparent scams (people pretending to be a young relative of a grandparent who needs money for an emergency) or a phoney tax collector who requires money or personal information.

    • On the Internet: Scammers pretending to represent Revenue Canada or other government officials are examples of Internet fraud. Both scams are looking for money or identity information such as a social security number (SIN). Sites like Kijiji and Craigslist are also favourite places for scammers.

    • By Mail: Lottery scams and mystery shopper scams are commonly distributed through the mail. Both scams ask for money up front before the transaction can be completed.

      • Through Publications: Includes newspaper ads advertising non-existent rental properties and phoney offers of employment.

    So how do newcomers protect themselves?

    • Install anti-virus software, filters and firewall programs on your computer.

    • Don’t reply to any requests for your personal or financial information.

    • Verify the request for information is legitimate.

    • Delete suspicious emails and then delete them from your trash.

    • Monitor your bank statements regularly.

    • Deal with legitimate investment advisors.

    • Don’t wire money to people you don’t know.

    • It`s OK to hang up the phone or close the door.

    BBB offers presentations materials in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Spanish, Punjabi and Arabic.

    For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.


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