Holiday scams and fraud
The spirit of the holidays is a time of giving for most but, for scammers, it is a time of taking. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre highlights the most popular holiday scams so that you can recognize, reject, report and be merry.
On this page
- Counterfeit merchandise
- Selling goods and services online
- Fake charities
- Crypto investment scams
- Romance scams
- Online shopping
- Phishing email and texts
- Secret Santa
- Prize scams
- Gift cards
- ID theft and fraud
Counterfeiters can easily create websites that look like legitimate manufacturers and offer products at a huge discount. Protect yourself by:
- thoroughly researching a website before purchasing from it
- searching for warnings posted online about the seller/website
- looking for red flags on the website
Selling goods and services online
When buying and selling online, both buyers and sellers need to be aware that not all offers are trustworthy. Watch out for buyers who will attempt to not pay you or who are trying to access your personal information. Be suspicious of payment offers that are more than the asking price and confirm that you have received a legitimate payment before you send the product.
The end of the year is a busy season for charities looking for donations. Fraudsters know this and will use the names of legitimate charities to collect money from well-intentioned consumers. Confirm the charity is registered with Canada Revenue Agency before providing any personal or financial information.
Crypto investment scams
Fraudsters are using social media and fraudulent websites to lure Canadians into crypto investments. Prior to investing, ask for information on the investment. Research the team behind the offering and analyze the feasibility of the project. Verify if the company is registered by using the National Registration Tool.
Watch out for people entering a relationship with you for the purpose of taking your money or personal information. They will say anything in order to gain your trust and, consequently, access to your wallet. Make sure you really know who you're talking to.
Fraudsters pose as genuine sellers and post fake ads for items that do not exist. The listing price for almost any item (e.g. event ticket, rental, vehicle, puppy) is usually too good to be true. Research before you buy. Whenever possible, exchange goods in person or use your credit card for payment.
Phishing emails and texts
You may receive messages claiming to be from a recognizable source (e.g. financial institution, telecommunications company, service provider, shipping company) asking you to submit or confirm your information. They may even include a malicious link.
You may have noticed multiple gift exchange posts on your social media feeds. This may seem like a fun activity where you only have to send one gift and receive multiples in return. Unfortunately, this exchange collects some of your personal information and also hides a pyramid scheme where only those on the top profit. Pyramid schemes are illegal in Canada.
You may receive a letter or a call with the good news that you have won something but need to pay a fee first, but these are often methods of stealing your money or personal information.
Is a supposed loved one reaching out to you because they need money now and you're the only one they trust to keep it a secret? Resist the urge to act immediately and verify the person's identity by asking them questions a stranger wouldn't know.
Gift cards are a popular and convenient way to give a gift. They should also be considered like cash; once they are exchanged, it is unlikely that you are getting your money back. Gift cards are not meant for payments and no legitimate business or organization will request these; especially with a time pressure.
Identity theft and fraud
In all the hustle and bustle of the season:
- Do: keep your wallet on your person and cover your PIN
- Don't: share passwords or provide your personal information on impulse
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