Protecting against phone banking/money scams as a Canadian immigration applicant

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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) designates every March as Fraud Prevention Month to bring awareness to different types of fraud and scams that impact the lives of Canadian immigrants.

In light of that goal, what follows will discuss the rising prevalence of phone banking scams in Canada as well as what prospective and recent Canadian immigrants can do to help protect themselves against this type of crime.

Rising number phone banking scams of phone banking scams in Canada

According to Canadian-Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) data published by Global News, the number of fraudulent phone calls reported from scammers pretending to be a financial institution has risen by over 1,600 since 2020. In fact, between January and September 30 of 2019, the reported number of phone calls was 1,147. This number grew to 2,212 in 2021 and then 2,769 over the same time period last year.

For prospective and recent Canadian immigrants, who are typically less financially secure than established Canadians, financial scams can be especially scary. This is due in no small part to the emphasis placed on money during the immigration process, including in the context of certain immigration requirements like proof of funds.

IRCC requires immigration applicants to provide proof of funds because it helps “remove any doubt” the Canadian government may have that an applicant can financially support themselves (and their family, if applicable). This is vital to the application process of certain Canadian immigration programs, including those managed by the Express Entry system.

Accordingly, prospective Canadian immigrants should take especially good care to safeguard their money and ensure it does not fall into the hands of a scammer. This is also true of recent Canadian immigrants, who are more likely to be victimized by scammers than Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have already established themselves in the country.

Tips for protecting against phone banking/money scams

With the steady growth of phone banking scams in Canada, these three tips can help prevent Canadian immigrants from becoming victims of a phone scam surrounding their money.

1. If unsure, don’t act

When receiving a call or a text that seems odd, such as one that threatens to pursue legal action if money does not exchange hands or to revoke an immigration application, prospective and recent Canadian immigrants should not take any immediate action. Whether that means hanging up the phone call or simply not responding to the text message, people in this situation should avoid taking any direct action when receiving communications like this.

2. Don’t provide sensitive information to incoming callers

Prospective and recent immigrants, much the same as all Canadians, should avoid providing sensitive information over the phone to incoming callers. This is because they may be attempting to pose as an official government entity (IRCC, for example) or financial institution to scam the recipient of the call.

In fact, IRCC “will not contact [anyone] … over the telephone to collect fees or fines.”

If, for instance, someone was unsure about the legitimacy of an incoming caller claiming to be the bank, calling the financial institution directly on an outgoing call is a good place to start. This way, the caller can be confident that they are speaking with the right people before addressing any potential financial concerns.

3. Avoid clicking on links in text messages

Text message scams will often include faulty links that senders use to try and steal sensitive personal or financial information. Recipients of text messages like this are urged to avoid clicking on these links. Instead, those who believe a text of this kind may be real are advised to find the real contact information of the “sender” – as these scam text messages often look like they come from legitimate companies like Amazon or Google – through their verified website and contact them accordingly.

How hiring an immigration lawyer can help

Protecting against scam victimization can be challenging because it is hard to know whom to trust.

For additional security against scams, consider hiring a Canadian immigration lawyer. These lawyers must be registered as a member of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society in order to practice in this country. Therefore, prospective Canadian immigrants can be confident that they are receiving trustworthy assistance and advice when they seek the help of a Canadian immigration lawyer.

  • Here are just a few ways that an experienced immigration lawyer can help:
  • Preparing applications with completeness and accuracy
  • Helping applicants avoid mistakes throughout the immigration process
  • Using their expertise to help applicants avoid unnecessary processing delays

Communicating with the Canadian government on an applicant’s behalf.

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