Fraud Prevention Month: 3 Common Scams and How to Avoid Them!

March is Fraud Prevention Month, an annual public awareness campaign to help Canadians avoid becoming victims of fraud.

It is rare these days that someone is NOT getting text messages to their phone notifying them for example, that they have missing packages, and requesting that you click a link. Fraud and ID Theft  are serious problems that affects many people every year. So many, that 554 million dollars was lost to fraud in Canada in 2023 according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Fraudster’s are smart, and coming up with new ways to trick people, so it’s key to stay on top of the different types of fraud circulating, and to learn how to protect yourself.

In this blog, we’ll describe three common fraud schemes you should be aware of, according to the Ontario Securities Commission, and resources where you can learn more about the many other scams that are unfortunately out there. We'll also describe what to do if you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, and let you know about Markham Public Library's upcoming workshops where you can learn directly from experts in the field.

The Grandparent Scam:

This type of scam involves fraudsters pretending to be your grandchild or another close family member or friend who needs urgent help. They might ask for money, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, claiming they are in an emergency situation such as a medical crisis. If someone contacts you over the phone urgently asking for money, the best thing to do is to hang up and directly contact that family member with the phone number you know, to confirm that it was really them. This rule of thumb applies for anyone asking for money or personal information over the phone. Remember: If you didn’t initiate the call, then you don’t truly know who you are talking to! AI can also impersonate the voices of friends and loved ones. Let them know you will call them back, or pre-arrange a secret code word with friends and family. You could also consider asking the person a question only your friend or loved one would know the answer to.

Phishing Scams:

In phishing scams, scammers try to trick you into sharing personal information over email, text, or phone. They may ask you to click a link or download an attachment to verify your account or provide personal information. Sometimes the click of a link can result in your computer being infected with a virus or malware. One of their top strategies is putting pressure on you to take action quickly, with no time to lose, and often times fraudsters use current events to lure interest such as “Ukrainian Relief Efforts” or your “COVID-19 Test results.” They will often claim to be from the CRA or the Canada Border Service Agency, and may sound legitimate, but the government will never contact you for reasons such as payments owed or offering money via email or e-transfer. First you should always pause, then contact the agency directly instead.

The Recovery Room Scam:

This scam occurs when a victim of fraud is contacted yet again by a different scammer claiming they can help recover money lost in a previous scam, for a fee. They may pretend to be from law enforcement or a bank. Once the fee is paid, the scammer disappears, and the victim loses money again. Scammers will sell their “list of previously scammed” individuals to other scammers – which is why it’s so common that people become re-victimized after they’ve been scammed once already. 

It can feel embarrassing or difficult to tell friends or loved ones that you have been impacted by a scam, but it can happen to anyone – and the more people report the scam the greater the likelihood another person will be spared. It may also keep you off that “scammed list” that is sold to other scammers.

What to do if you become a victim:

  • Stay calm and gather all the information you need.
  • Contact your financial institution.
  • Call the police.
  • Report the incident to: the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System.

For more and the latest information to stay vigilant about fraud schemes across Canada,  visit: Ontario Consumer Protection, Canadian Fraud Centre, or Ontario Securities Commission,

Markham Library Programs:

Check out our upcoming workshops to learn more, ask questions, and connect with others around these concerns.

  • Phishing Scams and Cybersecurity: (Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 11:00AM, Aaniin Branch) Participants will learn how to recognize phishing scams and helpful prevention tips to protect themselves when navigating the digital world. Register here!
  • Protect Your Money: (Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 2:00PM, Thornhill Village Branch) Participants will learn from the Ontario Securities Commission, all about how to protect yourself from investment fraud, and what to consider when working with a financial representative. Register here!

Don't forget to share this information with family and friends to help keep them safe!