How a fraudster might approach you

There are many ways a fraudster might approach you. They might email, text or phone you. Or they might pretend to know the same people as you. Read more about the ways a fraudster could use to connect with you and tips to protect yourself.

Emails or text messages

There are countless scams sent through emails and text messages.

One common type is phishingPhishing A type of fraud where a stranger poses as a trustworthy person or business to get your private information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. It is often done using email or an instant message.+ read full definition. That’s when a stranger poses as someone trustworthy to try to get your private information, such as your passwords or banking information.

They may encourage you to click on a link or attachment. For example, they may pose as a financial institution or a subscription service, telling you to update information about your accountAccount An agreement you make with a financial institution to handle your money. You can set up an account for depositing and withdrawing, earning interest, borrowing, investing, etc.+ read full definition.

The best way to deal with suspicious or spam emails is to delete them. If you reply to ask to be removed from a mailing list, you alert the scammer that your email address is valid. This will prompt them to send you more messages.

Use this checklist to protect your financial information online and help prevent identity theft.

Social media channels or websites

Many scams use social media channels or websites. Scammers may create fake accounts. Or they may gain access to someone else’s account and use that person’s information in a form of identity theft. Others may try to form online relationships that seem genuine but can also lead to affinity scams.

To protect yourself from fraud on social media networks, delete requests from people you don’t know. Check their account for suspicious signs such as low engagement or few posts compared to a large number of followed accounts. And review the privacy and security settings on your social media accounts to limit who can see or connect with you online.

To protect yourself from falling victim to a online fraud, learn to spot fake websites and verify legitimate ones.

Learn more from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre about social media scams.


Many scams start with a phone call from someone you don’t know. They may claim to be from a company you do business with or a government agency. Then, they may ask you to verify personal information like bank or credit card numbers.

Phone scammers may alter their caller ID so it looks like a legitimate business is calling you.

To combat phone fraud, don’t do business over the phone unless you’ve made the call yourself and you know the company and phone number are legitimate. If in doubt, hang up and call the company directly.

Be cautious when giving out your contact information. Scammers often get contact information from lists that are traded, sold, and re-used. Sometimes they’ll trick victims a second time in a recovery room scam where victims think they’re getting their money back.


Scammers use their association with a group, and your common interests, to gain your trustTrust An account set up to hold assets for a beneficiary. A trustee manages the assets until the beneficiary reaches legal age.+ read full definition — and then take your money. They may also build relationships with leaders of the group to gain acceptance and endorsement. Affinity fraud and Ponzi schemes often operate through affinity groups.

Victims often don’t report affinity fraud for fear of embarrassment, or backlash from the group. They may try to resolve problems within the group, which can leave other groups vulnerable to the same scamScam When someone tries to make money by misleading or tricking another person.+ read full definition.

Investment seminars

Some investmentInvestment An item of value you buy to get income or to grow in value.+ read full definition seminars promote specific investment strategies that promise high returns.  Products associated with high returns also tend to carry a higher level of risk. The investments themselves may not be fraudulent, but this type of promotion raises many red flags.

Presenters are usually good motivational speakers and may use high-pressure sales tactics. If you’re given time-limited offers or feel pressured to buy, walk away.

Check RegistrationRegistration A requirement for any person or company trading investments or providing advice in Canada. Securities industry professionals are required to register with the securities regulator in each province or territory where they do business.+ read full definition

Many scammers are not registered to sell investments. Check the seller’s registration and get a second opinion from a qualified advisor, lawyer or accountant.


Research any investment opportunity before you investInvest To use money for the purpose of making more money by making an investment. Often involves risk.+ read full definition – no matter how attractive the investment may be or how much you trust the person offering it.

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