The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has compiled a list of the 12 scams of the holidays to keep consumers aware of the latest schemes.

1. Counterfeit merchandise. These scams accounted for more than $331,000 in reported losses during the first six months of 2023. Consumers are advised to watch out for flashy discount ads offering huge discounts that direct consumers to websites that mimic the real manufacturer’s site.

2. Selling goods and services online. Service scams totalled $12.8 million in reported losses during the first half of this year. Consumers are advised to be suspicious of payment offers that are more than the asking price. Make sure you have received a legitimate payment before you send the product.

3. Fake charities. A charitable donation dedicated to a loved one can be the perfect gift for a recipient who has everything. But before you give, ensure the charity is registered with Canada Revenue Agency. Search this directory to confirm your chosen charity is listed.

4. Romance scams. Accounting for more than $27.6 in reported losses during the first half of this year, romance scams begin with a fake identity that lures victims into a web of lies.

5. Online Shopping. Beware of fraudsters who post fake ads for items that do not exist at prices that seem too good to be true. Conduct transactions in person, when possible, in a safe place.

6. Phishing emails and texts. While these scams are prevalent throughout the year, you might receive a call or text about a special holiday offer for wireless services or some other promotion. Keep in mind, the call or text may be coming from a scammer looking to steal your identity. When in doubt, end the phone call, look up the service provider’s number and open a call yourself.

7. Secret Santa. Gift exchange posts on social media feeds may seem like a harmless trend, but keep in mind, this exchange can also collect some of the your personal information and hide a pyramid scheme, which is illegal in Canada.

8. Prize notifications. Beware of unsolicited letters, calls or emails stating you’ve won millions. These messages typically ask the recipient to confirm their personal information and to cover a few fees before the prize is disbursed. Prize scams accounted for more than $1.9 million in losses reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre through the first six months of 2023. Remember: if you didn’t enter, you can’t win. In Canada, if fees are associated with a prize, they are removed from the total winnings. You are never required to pay fees in advance.

9. Emergency scam or grandparent scam. If a supposed loved one is reaching out to you claiming they need money for bail or a trip back home, be sure to confirm their identity. Hang up the phone and call your loved one back directly to make sure you’re not dealing with a scammer.

10. Gift cards. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre urges consumers to treat gift cards like cash. Once they’re exchanged, you probably won’t get your money back. No legitimate business will request payment in gift cards, so if someone pressures you to pay a debt using a gift card, it’s likely a scam.

11, Identity theft. During the holiday hustle and at all times of the year, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre urges you to keep your wallet on your person and cover your personal identification number. Never share passwords or provide your personal information on impulse.

12. Identity fraud. When it comes to stopping identity fraud, you need to be quick to limit the damage. Contact your financial institutions and the credit bureaus, Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, as soon as you notice:

• Suspicious activity on your financial statement/s.

• Unauthorized activity on your credit report.

• Letters approving or declining credit applications you did not authorize.

• Re-routed mail.

• Bills from service providers you do not use.

• Your information was compromised as part of a database breach.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, or you’ve been targeted, you’re asked to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or file a report online at

With the holiday season fast approaching these
important tips may ensure your business is not a crime target.

1. Test your alarm system
Your security alarm system is a great deterrent for keeping would-be thieves away. Jumpstart your holiday security plan by testing your security system to ensure all elements are working as they should.

2. Ensure your contact information is up-to-date
Confirm that all the contact information that is held by your alarm company is current and they know who to contact over the holiday period.

3.  Review Safety Procedures with Employees
This is a great time of year to meet with employees and refresh them on existing and any new business safety procedures such as:

  • how to secure valuable items and equipment
  • how to set the security alarm and what to do in case of an emergency
  • review internet safety protocols with employees and refresh them on what they can and cannot do with the company internet connection and how to spot malicious emails
  • review with staff the procedures in how to deal with customers with suspected counterfeit currency or stolen credit and debit cards

4. Keep A Watchful Eye
If your business is closed over the holiday season, driving by your business a few times a week to ensure there is nothing out of the ordinary. If you notice any pry marks or attempts to enter your business, report it to the RCMP immediately.

5. Lighting 
Ensure all outdoor lights are working properly and consider leaving a light or two on inside. The extra light increases visibility for police on patrol and a light inside can give the impression someone’s present.