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Canada is a beautiful and relatively safe country, with a robust economy and banking system. But, navigating the banking and financial system in a new country can be complicated and there are, unfortunately, criminals who take advantage of the public, and newcomers in particular. And recently, impersonation scams have become more common.

But what are impersonation scams? And how can newcomers to Canada protect themselves, especially as Artificial Intelligence, or AI, use spreads? 

As a newcomer to Canada, it is crucial to know how to keep yourself safe from impersonation scams. It is also important to know how to report potential scams to protect your new community.

Three Steps to Protecting Yourself from Impersonation Scams

Scotiabank has adopted a three-step approach to protecting yourself from impersonation scams: 

  1. Recognize it. 
  2. Reject it. 
  3. Report it. 

This approach helps you reduce the risk that a criminal posing as a representative of a government, a bank, or another organization will steal your personal information or money. 

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Recognize it: How to Identify Impersonation Scams

What are Impersonation Scams?

Impersonation scams happen when someone pretends to be a trusted person or organization to deceive you. The scammer will contact you and claim to be from a trusted or familiar organization, such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), your bank, your internet provider, or a shipping company. 

The scammers will then create a sense of urgency or pressure, by telling you that there is a problem with your account, that you owe money, that you are entitled to a refund or that you need to confirm your identity by providing your confidential information. 

Recognizing Impersonation Scams

Know how to spot the red flags to protect yourself from impersonation scams. 

Unfortunately, impersonation scams from criminals pretending to be from financial institutions and government agencies are on the rise. Artificial Intelligence has made it much easier for scammers to mimic the voice and image of your loved ones, trusted people and officials. As a result, fraudsters are more convincing when they try to trick you into giving them money, personal and financial information or your One-Time Passcode (OTP). 

There are various tactics that a scammer will use to convince you that they are genuine. Here are some key takeaways you will want to be aware of:

Key Takeaway: Recognizing Impersonation Scams

While impersonation scams are getting more and more convincing, there are some red flags that can help you identify impersonation scams: 

  • Urgent and threatening language: This is a red flag and a technique used by fraudsters. Scammers leverage the fact that we make poorer decisions under extreme time pressure, and they use that to their advantage.
  • Generic content: If the communication you received is not personalized, be suspicious. Scammers send emails or robocalls to large groups and then try to trick anyone who responds. 
  • Unusual email addresses or URLs: Scammers will often use small differences or variations in their email address or website URL to trick us into thinking we’re visiting a legitimate website.
  • Unsolicited communications: Sometimes it’s easy to recognize unsolicited communications, like when someone texts you about a fee you owe to a company you’ve never done business with. You should be equally wary of these communications when they look to come from a bank (or other company) you deal with.
  • Requests for personal information: If someone calls and asks you to verify your name, address, or other personal information, let them know you aren’t comfortable sharing that information, but you’ll call back on a verified number. Do this even if your caller id says that it’s your bank (or anyone else) calling you. It’s easy for scammers to make it look like they’re calling you from a known company.
  • Asking for your help to solve a crime: Police, investigators, and banks will never ask for you to participate in solving a crime. Even if the person asking has a very compelling reason behind it, just say no. It’s a scam. 
  • Requests for payment with cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), gift cards, or cash: Legitimate organizations will request legitimate payment methods. If you can’t pay via bank transfer, money order, or an online payment platform, be wary.  
  • Asking for your credit card details: It’s very unlikely that legitimate companies will call or email you to ask for your credit card details. If you ever choose to pay someone you don’t know by credit card, be very suspicious. 
  • It sounds too good to be true: As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always be skeptical if an offer doesn’t sound realistic or is much better than other offers you’ve seen.
  • Any feeling of uneasiness or uncertainty: Trust your gut when it comes to protecting your personal information. If you get the sense that something isn’t right, don’t proceed. 

Reject It: Tips to Avoid Impersonation Scams

Now that you’ve learned how to recognize impersonation scams, let’s move on to how to reject them. These tips can help you to reduce your risk of criminals stealing your personal information or money:

The best way to check the legitimacy of a company is to call the company directly yourself using the contact details on the back of your bank card or via the official website. 

These general rules can help you stay safe online:

  • Only access your accounts by going to the website directly
  • Don’t click links in emails or texts
  • Never click on a link or download an attachment from an unknown or suspicious sender.
  • Always double check the email address is accurate before opening an email from an unknown sender.

Hang Up

If someone claiming to be from the government or a bank asks you to confirm your personal or financial information, hang up and call back  using the number on the official company website or the number provided on the back of your card. Do not provide your personal or financial information to anyone unless you’re sure they’re legitimate. Never provide your One Time Passcodes to anyone over the phone. 

Use Strong Passwords & Multi-Factor Authentication

Good password hygiene is critical when it comes to preventing fraud and protecting yourself online. We strongly recommend using unique long passwords for every account. Whenever possible use Multifactor Authentication to add a layer of protection to your account.

Report The Scam

If you believe you’ve been involved in a scam, act fast. Often people feel ashamed or embarrassed about being tricked or manipulated by scammers, and so they don’t report the scam. Reporting these scams is very important as it helps to protect others from becoming targeted. 

Some people hesitate to report scams because they believe they won’t get their money back, or they don’t think the authorities will care. But reporting scams can make a big difference: 

  • Reporting can help to raise awareness about the scam. 
  • Reporting may allow your financial institution to take preventive steps to protect you from further losses. 
  • Your report may help authorities piece together information about how the scam works or who the scammer is. 
  • You can contribute to the overall safety and protection of your community. 

If you gave someone your credit card details, bank details, login information, or shared a One-Time Password, you should cancel the card(s) immediately and change your passwords. This can help to minimize the financial impact.

If you think you’ve been involved in a scam, you can report it to your local authorities, your bank, and file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Avoid Scams with Scotiabank

Scotia InfoAlerts notify you immediately if there’s a transaction on your Scotiabank Visa* debit card and Scotiabank Visa* credit card account that’s unusual, 24/7, for no additional cost.  


Legal Disclaimer

* Visa Int./Licensed User

Citation "Protect Yourself From Impersonation Scams." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation