Government websites: spot the legitimate among the fakes
Don’t fall for misleading scam sites seeking personal information or credit card data
August 29, 2019 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau
Browsers beware: scammers are running fake websites meant to mimic real federal government ones. These misleading websites can easily appear to be authentic. They may use the same layout, colour scheme, or red maple leaf graphic – and it all looks right. These phony sites could fleece you out of money or personal information…or both!
When reviewing your Internet search results for government services, don’t assume that the top hit is legitimate. Fake websites may also ask for your credit card information to access forms and services that are free on real government websites. Scammers may demand personal information generally not needed for the service you’re seeking, or they may promise to accelerate your government application, for a fee. Official Government of Canada websites will never ask you to deposit money into a personal bank account or send funds through a private money transfer service. Real government websites will never threaten you or offer “special deals” on government application fees.
Learn to recognize phony government websites:
- Make sure your browser is up-to-date: Browser filters can help detect fake websites.
- Look for contact information: Genuine Government of Canada websites will always list a point of contact. Generally, look for Canada.ca or gc.ca e-mails with no typos. Official government websites will also never use private email services such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail or Gmail.
Look for both of Canada’s official languages: Information on federal government websites is always available in English and French.
If you’re unsure:
- Don’t give out personal details: Be cautious with websites that demand that you transfer money or provide information such as bank account numbers or personal identification, like your Social Insurance Number.
- Contact 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) and ask them if you’re on the right site.
If you believe you’ve been misled by a spoofed government website, contact the Competition Bureau and file a complaint by phone at 1-800-348-5358 or online.
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