Shield Yourself from Fraud

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The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) wants to help prevent fraud. As a long-standing member of the Competition Bureau's Fraud Prevention Forum, we educate Canadians on how to recognize, report and stop fraud.

Your best defense against becoming a victim of fraud is through awareness and education. This page is dedicated to helping consumers be more aware so you can protect yourself. We encourage you to share this information to help others avoid fraud.

The first step in avoiding becoming a victim of fraud is to be alert and avoid common scams. Here are the top things to watch for:

  • The deal sounds too good to be true.
  • Someone tells you that you've won a prize in a contest that you don't recall entering.
  • You are told that in order to claim your prize, you need to send in some money (e.g., to pay for taxes, shipping or processing). 
  • Someone wants to pay you by cheque for items that you selling online.
  • You are asked to make a donation to a charity that is unknown. 
  • You are pressured to accept a promotion. For example, you are told: "Today is the final day of this promotion, so you must act now."
  • A caller offers to come to your home for a free demonstration or wants to send someone over to your home pick up your cheque.
  • You are asked for your banking information.
  • You are asked to call a 1-900 number. Be careful, there is always a charge to call a 1-900 number.
  • The person calling refers to you by your first name and asks you a lot of personal or lifestyle questions, such as where you work, how often your children visit, or what type of hobbies you have. 
  • You are told that you must make a purchase to enter a contest - a practice that is not legal in Canada.

Fraudsters can be very clever and persuasive. Stay vigilant so you do not fall for their tactics. Below are some of the most common scams you need to avoid.

  • Imposter - An individual claims to be a government official, someone you know like a family member, tech support, a senior member of the company you work at etc.
    • Offer from government agencies to reduce the amount of money that you owe. This is especially suspicious if you did not put in a request for financial relief.
    • Texts from unrecognized numbers with open ended questions that alludes to a connection with you. The texts will ask about your day, if you still use your phone number or to click on a link to confirm a reservation.
  • Advance fee - AI scammer claims you have been approved for a loan, have won a lottery or contest, but in order to receive the funds you need to first pay a fee.
  • Subscription traps and deceptive free trials - Always read the fine print, terms and conditions carefully, as you may be charged more after the trial period ends. You may need to contact your bank or credit card company to stop payments.
  • Spoofed websites - Do not open links from untrusted sources. Ensure you check the website URL for anything that may be out of the ordinary, like an accent on a letter or the misspelling of the company name.
  • Cheque deposit and overpayment - Do not deposit cheques from unexpected sources and do not refund any excess funds prior to verifying the authenticity of the request.
  • Astroturfing, fake online endorsements and sponsored content - Legitimate companies will be up front and disclose when an endorser is affiliated with them. Do your research to determine whether the review you are relying on are genuine.
  • Ticket sales - Scammers attempt to sell fake, stolen or already claimed tickets. Purchase from legitimate sellers.
  • Online dating and romance - be weary of made up stories, persistent out of country claims, and requests to send money through wire transfer or gift cards.
  • AI scams – Many of the types of scams highlighted above become even more sophisticated with the use of AI. Below are some of the most common to be aware of so you can protect yourself:
    • Deepfake audio: AI can be used to clone your voice, or that of someone you know, and use it to try and ask for money, to get a PIN or to pay for something. Always double check before sharing any information or pressing any links by getting in touch with the person directly through a channel you know.
    • AI-generated content that is made to look real. Scammers use AI to generate fake articles or posts that promote products or companies that do not exist. Always verify and be vigilant.
    • Fake tech support chatbots or AI-powered robocalls are used by scammers to solicit fake payments or try and access account details. Often these types of scams have fraudsters pretending to be customer services agents from well known brands.

The Competition Bureau has more in-depth information on these scams and fraud prevention on their website.

If you are a business owner, read our articles to learn about some of the most common scams that target businesses.

Here are some of the best ways that you can protect yourself against the scams described above.

  • Regularly check for scam alerts online.
  • Review the terms and conditions before making a purchase.
  • Take the time to think about an offer. Do not feel pressured to respond on the spot and request detailed contact information.
  • Shred all personal documents such as transaction records, credit applications, insurance forms, cheques, financial statements and tax returns that are no longer needed.
  • Change passwords frequently and don't recycle them.
  • When you receive an unexpected request, do not send any money or provide any personal information.
  • Check out the legitimacy of companies, products or offers you receive by researching them online. 
  • Always call your bank at the number provided on the back of your card.
  • Clear browser cache after visiting secure website.
  • Register your telephone number of the National Do Not Call List.

If you encounter a scam or if you have been defrauded, it is important that you report it. The authorities will gather evidence and alert law enforcement in Canada and abroad. You may not be able to recoup money, but by alerting authorities, you might be able to prevent others from becoming victims, and to help stop the fraudsters.

You can report scams by contacting any of the following:

Better Business Bureau
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Competition Bureau

It's important to note that depending on the type of fraud, there could be several organizations that you should notify. Check this list and make sure to keep all evidence related to your situation.
ANY QUESTIONS? Review the Competition Bureau's The Little Black Book of Scams.

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