Scams that target Canadian consumers — Common scams

Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to steal money. The following table lists some of the more common scams. Click on the topic to find out more and learn how to protect yourself.

Common scams
Subject The scam
Subscription traps “Free” trial offers of products and services that turn into subscriptions and monthly charges that are difficult to stop.
Identity theft Scammers collect or reproduce your personal information to commit fraud.
Health and medical scams The three most common types of health scams are miracle cures, weight-loss programs and fake online pharmacies.
Romance scams A fraudster on an online dating site tricks someone into sending large amounts of money in the name of love.
Phishing and smishing scams These scams arrive via email (phishing) or text message (smishing) and attempt to gain your personal or financial information.
Tax scams Someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency tries to get your banking information about a refund coming or says you owe money and urgent action is needed.
Door-to-door scams Door-to-door salespeople using high-pressure tactics to get you to buy a product or sign up for a service you don’t want or need commonly involving aggressive pitches for charitable donations, investment opportunities, home services or maintenance on water heaters, furnaces, or air conditioners.
Emergency scams The scammer pretends to be a family member or friend in trouble who needs money.
Purchase of merchandise scams Someone offers something for sale online for a price that is too good to be true, or they try to trick you into hitting a link to a fraudulent website that won’t ship the product or send products of far lower quality than what was promised.
Sale of merchandise scams A fraudster pretends to agree to buy your item, often too quickly and without seeing it, so they can take your money or merchandise—or both.
Job and employment scams A scammer offers you a (non-existent) job, but you must first pay a fee or provide your banking or other personal information.
Service scams Someone knocks on your door or calls you to say they are selling a service such as software or energy services like electricity or natural gas at bargain rates.
Investment scams Someone tries to get you to make investment decisions based on false information.
Charity scams Someone tries to convince you to give money to a fake charity or to a real charity but they keep whatever donations they receive.
Pyramid schemes These scammers recruit people for fraudulent money-making ventures. Unfortunately, only those at the top of the pyramid become rich, while the rest earn little or nothing. Eventually the pyramid collapses, but the criminals that start it make their fortunes.
Lotteries, sweepstakes and contests Someone tries to convince you to send money or provide banking or other personal information to pay a fee or tax before you can claim a prize that doesn’t exist.