Protect yourself against fraud
Know how to recognize a scam claiming to be from Service Canada or 1 800 O-Canada
There are many sophisticated frauds and scams in Canada - with new ones invented daily. Many frauds and scams attempt to mimic real federal government services to gain access to your personal and financial information.
You should be vigilant when any person claiming to be a Service Canada or 1 800 O-Canada employee contacts you in a way that you are usually not contacted by the federal government. This could include:
- requests for personal information (such as a Social Insurance Number, credit card number, bank account number or passport number) by telephone, email or text, or
- notifications (text or email) or calls that attempt to complete a financial transaction (such as messages requesting to click on hyperlinks to deposit benefits or to pay taxes)
These emails, text messages, letters and calls (including recorded messages) may be fraudulent.
1 800 O-Canada is a general information service and does not usually make unsolicited attempts to contact Canadians.
In very rare cases, Service Canada may unexpectedly contact you in the course of delivering Government of Canada services.
Service Canada and 1 800 O-Canada only send information you have requested and only send notifications through services to which you have signed up.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit scams
The Government of Canada will not reach out by text or email to ask you to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Nor will the Government notify you by text or email that you have received a CERB payment.
There are only 2 ways to apply for the CERB:
- online at Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), or
- by phone at 1-833-966-2099, for those who do not have Internet access
When in doubt, contact 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) and ask them to verify the validity of any communication you have received (including government websites).
What to do when in doubt
If you have been unexpectedly contacted by someone who claims to be a Service Canada employee and are doubtful of their identity, contact the 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) service. In particular, if the person who contacted you claimed to be an investigator, the agent will verify whether their name is on the list of Service Canada investigators. As required, the agent will refer you directly to the program or service that tried to reach you so that you can obtain more information.
How to protect yourself from identity theft
- Caller ID is a useful feature, but criminals can alter the information it displays. Never use only the displayed information to confirm the identity of the caller, whether it be an individual, a company or a government entity
- Be suspicious if an individual ever asks you to pay taxes or other fees via an email, a call or text message
- Keep your access codes, user ID, passwords and PINs secret
- Keep your address current with all government departments and agencies
- Before supporting any charity, use the CRA website to find out if the charity is registered. You should also obtain information on the way it does business
- Be careful before you click on links in any email you receive. Some criminals may be using a technique known as phishing to steal your personal information when you click on the link
- Protect your Social Insurance Number. Do not use it as a piece of ID. Never reveal it to anyone unless you are certain the person asking for it is legally entitled to that information
- Pay attention to your billing cycle and ask about any missing account statements or suspicious transactions
- Shred unwanted documents or store them in a secure place. Make sure that documents with your name and SIN are secure
- Immediately report lost or stolen credit or debit cards
- Carry only the ID you need
- Do not write down any passwords or carry them with you
- Ask a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail when you are away or ask the post office to place a hold on delivery
If you think you have been a victim of fraud
If you suspect you may be the victim of fraud, contact your local police service.
You can also ask for help from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1‑888-495-8501.
Report the theft of your Social Insurance Number (SIN) by contacting Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627. For more information, see the Social Insurance Number page.
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