Every year in March, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) participates in the Canadian Government’s Fraud Prevention Month to raise awareness about the fraud experienced by newcomers to Canada and how they can protect themselves.
Canada’s immigration process is intricate, and it’s not uncommon for prospective immigrants to seek professional help. However, there are fraudulent individuals and unlicensed consultants who prey on foreigners’ inexperience for their own benefit. Such people may promise a quick and easy path to Canadian citizenship or residency in exchange for exorbitant fees.
Even after successfully immigrating to Canada, newcomers may still be vulnerable to scammers or dishonest individuals during their job or housing search. There may be advertisements claiming high-paying jobs or scholarships to study at Canadian universities or colleges. Many of these offers are fraudulent, and it’s crucial for newcomers to be aware of them.
The best way to protect yourself from immigration fraud is to be informed and prepared. Once you’re aware of the warning signs of a scam or fraudulent communication, you’ll be able to recognize, avoid, and report fraud.
IRCC’s website offers information on some common scams aimed at newcomers to Canada. People posing as Government of Canada staff may contact you and attempt to scare or threaten you into paying fees to maintain your immigration status. Fake emails may try to convince you to invest money or provide personal information related to your bank accounts. Emails or phone calls saying that your computer has been infected with a virus and asking for computer passwords and personal information to remove the virus for you may also be fraudulent. Phone calls or text messages claiming that you’ve won a prize or contest that you never entered may be another scam.
IRCC works to protect immigrants and Canadians from falling victim to scams. They provide some advice that prospective immigrants and newcomers to Canada should keep in mind, such as the fact that no one can guarantee you a job or a visa to Canada. Only immigration officers in Canada, and at Canadian embassies, high commissions, and consulates, can decide to issue a visa. Processing fees for IRCC services are the same in Canada and around the world.
Fees in local currencies are based on official exchange rates. IRCC will ask you to pay fees for Canadian government services to the “Receiver General for Canada,” unless stated otherwise on a Canadian visa office website. Be cautious of representatives charging a fee for supporting documents, like a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). IRCC will never collect money or payments by phone. It’s important to remember that IRCC will never email or call applicants to confirm basic information provided on application forms or ask for banking or credit card information by email.
If you receive an email that you weren’t expecting, it’s from a private address or a free webmail address (such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail) and not from a government of Canada “gc.ca” email account, and the sender asks you to update, validate, or confirm your personal information, it might be a scam. You’re told that you must act quickly to prevent negative consequences, such as your application being canceled, or the email promoting a special immigration offer that sounds too good to be true.
If you choose to hire a representative, use an authorized immigration and citizenship consultant, lawyer, or Quebec notary. It’s essential to report any immigration fraud to the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) Border Watch Toll-Free Line at 1-888-502-9060. If you believe you’re a victim of an internet, email, or telephone scam or fraud while in Canada, you should contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
In conclusion, IRCC’s Fraud Prevention Month aims to educate newcomers to Canada on the warning signs of fraud, common scams, and how to protect themselves.