Taking care of business

News release

How you can protect your business from fraudsters

March 15, 2021 - GATINEAU, QC - Competition Bureau

You’ve read about it in the media and on your social media feeds. Maybe you know someone who’s been a victim, or maybe you’ve been a target yourself. In the last year alone, scam artists have taken advantage of Canadian businesses to the tune of $24.5 million. However, it is estimated that only 5% of fraud is reported so the impact is likely much greater.

As Canadian business-owners face unprecedented challenges, fraudsters see the current global health crisis as an opportunity to line their own pockets. And, true to form, scams targeted at businesses are just as creative and convincing as frauds aimed at consumers.

And, with so many employees working remotely right now, it’s easier than ever for unsavoury characters to bilk your business.

Some common scams to watch out for:

Phishing: Watch out for emails with unknown links and attachments or asking you to give up sensitive business information like your credit card number, bank account number or passwords. Phishing emails can infect your company’s computers with malware, give fraudsters access to your information, or lock your computer system until you pay a ransom fee.

Intellectual Property renewal scam: Beware of emails and letters demanding payment to protect your business’ intellectual property rights. They may appear to come from a federal agency, but remember, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office is the official governmental agency responsible for the administration of IP rights and their renewal.

Tech Support Scam: If your business receives a phone call about viruses on your computer from someone pretending to be from a software company, it’s a scam.  Likewise, your staff could receive a fake pop-up warning on their screen claiming that their computer has a virus to trick them into giving the fraudster money, passwords or access to your system.

Fake CEO scam: In this scam, the fraudster will impersonate a company executive using a spoofed email to send an email to one of your employees of the accounting or finance departments. The email will instruct the employee to urgently wire a large sum of money to a bank account – to close a major business deal, for example.

To help prevent your business from falling victim to fraud:

  • Be skeptical of urgent requests.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a request by contacting the supplier, agency, or executive directly.
  • Be wary of phone calls, mail, emails, or texts from persons posing as government officials requesting bank account information or other information in order to issue you cheques.
  • Don’t open, or reply to, any suspicious emails and don’t click on any links or attachments within them.
  • Use contact information you have in your contacts list, or go to the website of the legitimate business for the correct contact information.
  • Check all invoices. Make sure all items on the invoice were ordered and delivered.
  • Ensure your computer systems are secure and that your anti-spam, antivirus and anti-spyware software are up to date, whether working from home or at the office.
  • Encourage employees to use strong passwords to protect their email accounts from hackers.
  • Educate your employees about scams targeting businesses..
  • Stay vigilant. 

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