Scams to Avoid

There are a variety of scams that target international students in an attempt to defraud you of your money, identity, or other things. A scam occurs when an individual pretends to be an authority figure, official, or property owner for the purpose of stealing your money or personal information.

Tax and Personal Info Scams

Beware of attempts to steal your usernames, passwords, social insurance number (SIN), and other personal credentials!

Phone calls and emails that appear to be coming from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are sometimes used to convince people to give away login information for their accounts. The CRA will NOT call and ask you to make a payment immediately. The CRA WILL send you an email that asks you to login to their MyAccount system to see the contents of your message.

The CRA provides information on how to protect yourself from people impersonating their organization or staff.

Be cautious of any communication that claims to be from the Government of Canada or its departments, banks, and businesses that requests personal information, such as a social insurance number (SIN), credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.

  • Scam communications may insist that personal information is needed for you to receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication can also involve threatening or coercive language to try and scare you into paying a false debt to the CRA
  • The Government of Canada and its departments, banks, and businesses will never ask for payment through any of the following: Interac,
    e-transfer, cryptocurrency (Bitcoin), prepaid credit cards, or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others  
  • Scams can take place by phone, email, mail, and text. If you are unsure if something is a scam, DO NOT click on any links in the message

Visit the Queen’s ITS website for information about protecting your personal information and cybersecurity.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a list of scams that have been reported.   

Rental Scams

Rental scams occur when a scammer tricks you into sending them money to rent an apartment, room, or house which does not exist or is not actually available. Many students are successful at finding accommodations using websites, Facebook, or other social media tools, but scams can be very sophisticated so it's important to know how to avoid them. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when looking at a rental or room advertisement:

  • Is the room or rental unit cheap? 
    If a room or rental unit is much cheaper than similar rooms or units in the same area, be suspicious – this tactic is used to make you interested in the room, and perhaps willing to take more risks in the hope of a better deal.
  • Are the photographs good quality? 
    Very good quality images are usually only taken when properties are being sold. A Google image search will show you if the photos have been stolen from a genuine property advertisement.
  • Does the seller pressure you to act quickly? 
    This is a tactic to stop you from researching, waiting on advice from others, or taking the precautions you normally would.
  • Does the seller ask you to contact them privately via Whatsapp or Messenger for more details? 
    The more information they put in an ad, the easier it is for the website Admin to suspect fraud and delete the post. They may turn off commenting on the post so people who have been recently scammed can’t warn others. Their social media profile is likely to be very basic, with few friends or photographs.
  • Does the seller try to provide evidence to reassure you they are genuine? 
    A contract or tenancy agreement will not protect you unless the person you are communicating with can be traced. A passport or passport number can be easily faked.
  • Does the seller ask for payment through a money transfer service?
    Scammers may ask you to transfer money via Western Union or Moneyram, as these kinds of transfers are hard to trace. If they ask you to transfer money to a relative and provide a receipt number to show that you have the money, this is also a scam – the scammer can use the receipt number to intercept your transfer.

If you have questions or concerns, reach out to the Off-Campus Living Advisor, or a QUIC International Student Advisor via email, or in virtual advising drop-in sessions on Zoom.

I’ve Been Scammed – What Do I Do?

Act quickly. If you think you may have been scammed, take action immediately. Contact your bank if you have made a payment through your bank account. If you have transferred money through MoneyGram or Western Union, contact them immediately to try and stop the payment. In some cases, you can claim compensation.

Report the scam, don’t keep it to yourself. Scammers rely on people feeling foolish for being scammed – that is how they get away with it. If you have been scammed, you are not to blame, the scammer is 100% at fault. Reporting your experience could stop someone else from being scammed. 

If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.