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How to avoid scams when studying in Canada

How to avoid scams when studying in Canada
February 06th, 2022

Even though Canada is a low-crime rate country, scams can be some of the biggest issues students can face while trying to study in the country. 

That's why it is very important that students understand how to protect themselves from these inconvenient and frustrating situations. In this article, you will find a description of the main scams you may be targeted with. In addition, you will also find tips on how to avoid falling for these scams. These tips are based on recommendations from Canadian authorities and personal experiences of former students.

Why You Should Be Careful About Scams in Canada

Before getting into the 'how to be careful', we must address the topic of 'why you should be careful'. Canada has a low violent crime rate. For example, the homicide rate in Canada is three times lower than that of theUnited States. However, despite its low violence rates, there is no country where crime is non-existent. The difference is that crime in Canada takes the shape of scams, which are less aggressive but can make life very hard for victims. And among criminals' favorite victims are students and immigrants, still often unfamiliar to the country's culture and rules.

The 5 Most Common Scams

It is basically impossible to accurately describe all the scams you may come across. First of all, because of the number of possible scams. Second, due to the fact that scams are constantly changing. You should mostly keep one thing in mind when checking out the list of scams below: this is a general description of how they might happen. This means that through an understanding of their characteristics you shall be able to identify their variations.

#1 - Credit Card Scams

Scams to obtain your credit card details are often pretty simple to avoid. To get started, all you need to do is investigate the company, organization or charity you are handing over your data to.There are, of course, several ways you can do that. For example, an internet search for the name of the organization is a great first step. Another thing you can try is to ask people you know about that company. However, you should never take into account the opinion of a single individual.

#2 - Document Fraud

Many scammers take advantage of the country's intricate bureaucracy to try and deceive students over the documents that allow them to stay in the country. Or even worse: some scammers promise permanent immigration opportunities, which are not an accurate opportunity when you check the law.

To avoid falling for these scams, remember that once your Student Permit is granted, it means that all the documentation is good to go. And you should also beware of emails from authorities demanding payments or bank details. Always check information with reliable sources before doing anything that promises fast advantages or clicking on suspicious links in your inbox.

#3 - Rental Scams

An unfortunately common type of scam is the one linked to housing. There are scammers who specialize in posting fake advertisements for student dorms or rooms. They often ask for a deposit before moving in, only for the student to later find out that they have been scammed.

If you are looking for a place to live in Canada before you even set foot in the country, always ask the owner to show you the environment in a video call. If they insist on not taking a tour of the location, do not go forward with the rental process.

#4 - Job Offer Scams

As well as Rental Scams, you might face scams related to fake job opportunities. Students may be allured by such ads when looking for a temporary occupation, but those can often lead them into a trap.

For example, some scammers offer fake jobs that will charge money for your training. Others use these non-existent vacancies as a way of trying to find out your personal data, such as document numbers.

In order to avoid falling for this type of scam, you must observe the following:

  •     Do not go for jobs you get too easily or fast, especially if you have not been interviewed by a manager or the business owner yet.
  •     Back away from job offers that promise guaranteed hiring and will send you forms asking for private data and unusual documents.
  •     Be wary of jobs that require you to buy your own uniform or equipment or ask for a training fee.

#5 - Phone & Emails Scams

One of the most common scamming tactics is through unsolicited calls or emails. Scammers seek to take credit card details by phone and email or convince students they have to pay fake fees. The right thing to do is not to share your data with strangers, even if they apparently come from an organization with the authority to ask for it.

If you receive a phone call or email claiming to come from a Canadian government agency, do not hand over the requested data on the spot. On the contrary: call the IRCC number (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) to confirm all steps to be taken. You should also be extremely careful when downloading files from emails. Such files may contain viruses that will share your data with scammers.

Tips on How to Avoid Scams

Besides taking into account the scam types described above, here are some very important practices to get yourself scam-free. Check out these tips:

  •     Have strong, hard-to-crack passwords on your accounts;
  •     Be careful what types of websites you access when on the web;
  •     Beware of situations that seem too good to be true;
  •     Always keep an eye on your accounts to check for suspicious transactions;
  •     Do not share your date with strangers;
  •     Always ask to see the product you are purchasing before closing the deal.

One last and very important tip is that you should always do things calmly and with a plan. If you make decisions on the fly, you'll be making the scammers' job easier. On the other hand, when you take the time to analyze the situation, you can easily find the mistakes that will reveal the scam.

If you follow this advice, you are unlikely to put yourself at risk. However, always remember that vigilance is the best way to avoid problems.

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