Protect yourself from scams


Phone, text message, and web-based scams are on the rise in Canada. Fraudsters invent new schemes and strategies daily. It is vital that students learn how to identify illegitimate claims to protect themselves.

Scammers use fear and cause confusione to manipulate us. If you receive a call or text from an unfamiliar number, ignore it. If someone you do not know insists they are trying to help you but uses intimidation or threats, it is illegitimate. If you’re looking for housing and the price is too good to be true, it’s a scam.

Remember: even if a someone tells you to act quickly, it’s important to take your time and assess the situation carefully to avoid being scammed.   

Know the signs of a scam

Phone, email or text requests are

likely illegitimate if:

  • Official agencies contact you for payment or personal information without warning 
  • You are asked for your banking information or social insurance number (SIN)  
  • You are asked to make payments in Bitcoin, through wire transfer or purchase gift cards 
  • You feel threatened or are scared  

  Job offers are likely illegitimate if:

  • You are promised a high-income for little or no effort 
  • You are asked for banking information and to send a transfer to access work materials 
  • You are asked to cash a cheque and to transfer part of the payment back to the company or individual 
  • You are charged a fee for work related credentials and/or pay stubs to meet program or job requirements

Housing offers are likely illegitimate if:

  • You are asked to send a deposit without seeing the rental unit 
  • If you are asked to pay in cash 
  • If the landlord or subletter is difficult to get a hold of 
  • If you request to see the rental unit and the landlord or subletter declines 
  • The rent amount seems too low for market value 
  • The lease or sublet agreement doesn't seem complete 

Do your homework:

Before you give money or information, make sure you know who you're dealing with: 

  • Check if a charity is real – search the Canada Revenue Agency's database 
  • Confirm collection agencies – contact your provincial agency 
  • Find a company's real number – look online and call them directly to confirm the previous call 
  • Double-check with your credit card company – call the phone number on the back of your card 
  • Talk to family – if someone claims a relative is in trouble, verify with other family members 

    Tip: If you receive a threatening phone call, hang up even if the caller tells you not to. Write down everything you remember from the call (e.g., phone number, badge number, where they claim to be calling from, details of the request, etc.). Call the Waterloo Regional Police Service non-emergency line to discuss the call with an officer. 

    Video resources

    Phishing scams

    Subscription traps

    Identity theft scams 


    Health and medical scams

    Emergency scams 


    Other resources

    If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, it is important to come forward. There are resources available to support you. Reporting will not have an impact on your academic standing with Waterloo or your Canadian visa.   

    If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, contact:

    If you need support, counselling services are available:

    Visit the Government of Canada website to learn about scams targeting newcomers to Canada