In the Know: Fraud & Scam Prevention


In the Know: Advice for international students is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seekingincoming exchange, and incoming study abroad/visiting.

Victoria and the UVic campus are generally safe, but it is important to learn about some of the fraud and scams that can happen in Canada (especially those targeted at international students), as well as to become aware of available resources and the actions you can take to stay safe and avoid this during your time in Canada.

Fraud Prevention

What is fraud?

Fraud is defined as wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

Attempted fraud is also known as a scam. There are many types of scams. They can happen over the telephone, through the mail, by text, by e-mail, online, or in person.

Most scammers will ask you for money, gift cards, or sensitive personal information such as your Social Insurance Number (SIN) or banking information.

Scammers may contact you via telephone, e-mail, or even in person. They may even claim to be from a well-known business, financial institution, or government agency.

You can take the following actions to protect yourself: Recognize it, Reject it, Report it.

Recognize it.

Most scams ask you for money or sensitive personal information.

Sensitive personal information can be used to steal your identity. Once someone has stolen your identity, they can access your accounts and take your money.

Sensitive personal information includes your date of birth, Social Insurance Number (SIN), mailing address, financial account numbers, credit card information, usernames and passwords, driver’s license number, passport number and immigration documents.

Scams can be very convincing. They often appear to come from well-known and trusted businesses, financial institutions, or government and border agencies. Sometimes they even appear to come from UVic!

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) website provides helpful information for recognizing scams.

Reject it. 

Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Be suspicious about emails, phone calls, or voicemails that are not personalized and inform you to take action immediately or else face serious consequences.
  • Avoid phone calls from numbers you do not recognize.
  • If you are suspicious of a phone call, hang up and contact the original source for information. For instance, you can look up the official number of institutions like the Canada Revenue Agency online to confirm and contact them.
  • If the caller is selling a product or service that sounds interesting, request information from the caller such as a website or name of the business and do some research so you can verify the validity of the company or organization before making a purchase or payment.
  • Keep your identity documents in a secure place.
  • Review your financial accounts on a regular basis.
  • Shred personal or financial documents.
  • Do not give your usernames or passwords to anyone.
  • Immediately report any lost or stolen identity documents, credit cards, debit cards, or passports.
  • Be cautious when opening email attachments and clicking on links in the content, regardless of who the email appears to be from.
  • Email scams are often called phishing. Learn 10 ways to spot a phish. Take steps to protect your online information. Visit the UVic website to learn more about Cybersecurity.

Report it. 

  • When you recognize a scam, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of fraud, report it to the CAFC and to your local police.

Here are some examples of scams targeting international students:

  • Email scam

These fraudulent emails appear to come from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Right now, during income tax season, the possibility of receiving one of these fraudulent emails increases.

Tip: All emails from the CRA are sent in both English and French. The CRA will NEVER request sensitive personal information by email and will NEVER send or request e-transfers. The CRA only sends payments by direct deposit or by cheque in the mail. Find more tips on the CRA website.

  • Telephone scam

This telephone scam appears to come from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The caller identifies themselves as an employee of IRCC. The student is advised to send prepaid credit cards, gift cards, money wires, or e-transfers as payment to avoid arrest or deportation from Canada.

Tip: IRCC will NEVER contact you by telephone to collect fees or fines or to demand payment so that you can avoid arrest, deportation, or other consequences. Find more tips on the IRCC website.

  • Online scam

There are fake rental ads posted on websites like CraigslistKijiji, and UsedVictoria.

Often, the person posing as a landlord pretends to be temporarily outside Canada and asks the prospective tenant to pay a security deposit or rent for the first month before letting them view the property.

Tip: NEVER send money to a landlord, property manager, or potential roommate before you meet them in person, receive a tour inside the property, and sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement. We recommend using the Places4Students UVic Portal to search for off-campus housing in Victoria. Landlords pay to post rental ads in this portal, so scam attempts are rare.

  • COVID-19 fraud

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), there have been reports on scams and frauds linked to COVID-19 vaccines. Do not buy COVID-19 vaccines online or from unauthorized sources. The only way to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is through clinics organized or endorsed by the local Public Health Authority in collaboration with Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Tip: If you have questions about getting vaccinated, contact your local health care provider. For more information, you can refer to the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 website.

  • Romance scam

The CAFC has stated that there has been an increase in online scams that target individuals in isolation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the category of romance scams represented the second highest amount of dollars lost due to fraud (the first was investment scams). This includes targeting people looking for companionship or love through dating sites and social media.

A scammer may convince you to enter a virtual, online relationship to gain your trust and affection. They may eventually try to convince you to give them money, to receive money for them, to join a business venture with them or to invest in cryptocurrency. 

Tip: Be aware of the possible red flags and take action to report this if you become suspicious that you are/were experiencing any of the red flags.

  • Job scam

There are many scams that target and take advantage of people looking for a job. The CAFC explained that scammers may try to recruit you with a job offer through an unsolicited email or text message, online classified ads or job posting websites. A few of the job scams that have been reported include:

  • Car wrapping
  • Counterfeit cheque
  • Financial agent
  • Mystery shopper

There have also been reported fraud cases involving cryptocurrency. Be cautious if someone is asking you to send any form of cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum etc.).

Tip: Before accepting a job offer, make sure to conduct your due diligence. Do some research about the company and the position to ensure that the offer is legitimate. It may also be a good idea to ask someone you trust to review the job offer before accepting. 

The International Centre for Students can help you recognize, report, and reject fraud, so feel free to contact us if you have any concerns. You can also find more information about living in Canada on our website.

Upcoming Events: 

March 22, 2023 (4:30 – 6:00pm PT): Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Information Session

Want to know what else is going on? Join the to receive regular updates about opportunities and events happening both on and off campus.