Scams are dishonest schemes that attempt to get people to hand over money or give financial and personal information. Scammers often use basic information they have gathered about you to trick you into giving more financial and personal information. A phishing scam is when someone does this by pretending to be an individual or company you know.
Help protect yourself from a scam by looking out for these common signs: if there is pressure to make a quick decision either overnight or on the spot and are threatened if you don’t comply.
The scammer requests to keep matters confidential and not share the details with local authorities or family and relatives. You receive urgent messages demanding you contact the sender immediately. If you are being asked to provide money in unusual formats such as gift cards, bit coin and prepaid credit cards. If you receive email or phone requests for financial information (for example, credit card number, bank account information and PIN), or email or phone requests for personal information (for example, Social Insurance Number, date of birth and security answers).
Here are some tips and hints to protect yourself from a potential phishing scam:
Ignore emails from unknown senders and block the sender from sending additional suspicious emails. If you receive a message from an unknown sender, don’t open any attachments or follow any links to thirdparty websites. Beware of upfront fees.
Legitimate websites that ask you to enter confidential information are generally encrypted to protect your details. You can identify secure websites by either: ‘https:’ rather than ‘http:’ at the start of the internet address, or a closed padlock or unbroken key icon at the bottom right corner of your browser window.
Avoid sending sensitive information over email and text message. Never provide your personal, credit card or online account details if you receive a call claiming to be from your bank or any other organisation. Instead, ask for their name and contact number and check with the organisation in question before calling back.
The Government of Ontario will never contact you directly to:
ask for personal information (for example, Social Insurance Number, bank account information, health information); offer you money or a reward; sign you up for a rebate program.
There are legitimate instances in which government staff will contact you by email or phone. These include: to respond to a question or complaint you have filed. In such instances, government staff will reference a file number, or specific correspondence that you sent to remind you to renew a licence (for example, licence plate or business licence).
If you are unsure if an email or phone call is from the Ontario Government, you should use our ministry contacts to verify the request before you share any information. Find out how to contact different ministries. Report a scam:
If you think you may be a victim of a fraud or scam, there are immediate steps you can take to limit the damage, protect yourself from further loss and report the scammer.
Step 1: Stop all communication with the scammer right away.
Step 2: Update your accounts. Change passwords to accounts that may have been affected, including social media sites. Notify banks and other companies where you have an account that may have been affected. Put an alert on your credit report by contacting a consumer reporting agency, such as Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada (the consumer reporting agency may charge a fee to add an alert to your credit report)
Step 3: Report the scam or fraud to your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Gather all records you have of the fraud or scam, such as: correspondence with the scammer (for example: letters, emails, text messages); financial statements; receipts; contracts; contact information the scammer used to contact you (for example: phone number(s), email address(es)), websites and social media accounts used for the scam. Keep any papers, marketing material or ads used for the scam (for example: brochures, flyers, copies of ads on classified sites). Avoid touching documents that the scammer may have touched, and protect them with a plastic case or cover (if the scam occurred in person). Document your actions in a log and include when you first started noticing the fraud (including dates, times, names and contact information) which is useful if/when you contact law enforcement, financial institutions or other agencies.
If you believe the scam may have resulted in identity theft, learn more about dealing with identity theft.