Scams and Fraud

person holding a phone in their left hand and a credit card in their right, hands resting on a wooden table

International students are frequently targets for scams. A scam is a fraudulent scheme to steal your money and/or personal information. It can come through email, text, by phone, or sometimes in person. The information below provides an overview of common scams and how to protect yourself.

Contact Western International at 519-661-2111 ext. 89309 or by email to for support if you are unsure or if you think you have been a victim of a scam. Our team is here to support you with making the necessary reports but also to answer any questions if you are unsure if a request made to you is legitimate. 

Common scams targeting international students

There are many different methods that people can use to get access to your information. Please contact if you are unsure or have questions. Here are a few examples of recent scams:

Someone calls and tells you that your Social Insurance Number (SIN) has been compromised or that you have outstanding tax payments. They will ask you to provide personal and private information to assist you. They may use aggressive or threatening language or they may pretend to be offering help.

Never share your personal information over the phone.

Individuals posing as government officials such as Canada Revenue Agency, immigration officer, border security officer (CBSA), a member of your home embassy, police officers, and other agencies. They claim that your family is in danger or you are being arrested. These individuals may use threatening language.

If you are unsure, ask for their identification and that they call back.

Individuals call or email offering to find you housing or a job and ask you to pay for their assistance. They may also claim to have an apartment and ask you to put down a deposit when there isn't a location to rent. They often ask you to pay before providing any proof of housing or a job. 

Off-Campus Housing Services and Career Education offer many support services to international students.

These are fake phone calls or text messages claiming to be from real organizations. They will ask you for your personal information, your online banking information, your SIN or even passwords. These texts may include an unsafe link to claim a prize or secure your account.

When in doubt, it's ok to hang up or block! Don't click on any links!

Individuals may call or email you with the hope to get your debit or credit card information. They may claim they can get you lower interest rates for a fee or you may receive automated calls that claim  your credit card has been compromised. Fake charities and stores may also ask for money/payment via credit card.

Do not share your credit or debit card information over the phone.

These emails (often called phishing emails) will claim your accounts are not secure or claim you have won a contest and tell you to click a link that then takes you to a fake website. These emails may include files that will damage your device or steal your information once downloaded.

When in doubt, delete the email and do not click links or attachments.

What to do if you think you are being scammed


Stop! If you are being pressured or asked for any personal information, check to see if the request is legitimate. Do not give any personal information or financial information without first confirming the legitimacy of their request.


Collect Information! ALWAYS ask for a caller's name, ID number, and phone number and request that you call them back. All valid officials have to allow you to do this, if they insist you cannot verify their identity and/or call back, hang up.


Alert Others! Contact Western International at 519-661-2111 ext. 89309 or Western Special Constables (formerly named Campus Police) at 519-661-3300, or ext. 83300 to help you determine if this is a real request. You may also contact your financial institution and national credit bureaus to alert them to possible fraudulent charges on your account. It is also important to report the scam to the proper authorities. If the breach is related to your Western Identity or if it happened on the campus computer or internet, please report it with CyberSmart.


Monitor your Accounts! Check your online identity to make sure that your information is secure. Check that you are using secure passwords, review your bank account and collect any information you might need to provide to authorities. Update devices and privacy settings on your social media and monitor for suspicious activity. Learn more about how to protect your devices here.


If you suspect or know that you are a victim of identity theft of fraud, or if you unintentionally provided personal or financial information:

  1. Alert Others!
    • Contact your local police force and file a report.
    • Contact your financial institution(s) and credit card company by calling the number on the back of your card or their official website contact number.
    • Contact the two national credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) and place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
    • Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
  2. Monitor your Accounts!

How to recognize and avoid scams

Are they asking for your personal information such as SIN, banking information, immigration documents or similar?

Government organizations never contact you by telephone or email asking for personal information. Anyone requesting personal information will collect information from your personal account (CRA account, IRCC account, phone provider app, etc.) or will ask you to connect with you in person.

Are they rushing you to pay or give them your personal information?

Government organizations will never demand immediate action of you to pay money or give them information. They will also never ask you for gift cards or Bitcoin. Your bank will never call to ask for your account information. If you are unsure, it's ok to hang up. If they are from a legitimate source, they will call you back. It is ok to ask to confirm their identity by asking them for their identification number such as badge number, employee number, member number. You can use this information by calling their customer service number to ask for verification of employment.

Are they threatening you with negative actions such as fines, account closure or deportation?

The police or Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) never call to warn that you have committed a crime or ask for money. Similarly, you will never be asked to pay money to prevent removal from Canada. Any deportation contact will first be via letter, will never ask you for money, and can be confirmed for authenticity. For more information please contact

Are they telling you not to contact your family or authorities?

Keep in regular contact with family members. Set up a consistent timeframe for this contact and check-in. Travel with others (students/friends/colleagues) as much as possible. Let people (roommates/classmates/floormates/Residence staff) know where you are going and expected time of return.

Does it seem too good to be true?

If they claim to give you "free money", it is a scam. If you are offered contest winnings or lottery prizes and you didn't sign up or buy a ticket, it is a scam. If the rent that is being offered on a potential apartment or room doesn't seems significantly lower than similar locations, it may be a scam. In this case, please contact Off-Campus Housing for support. Off-Campus Housing Services offer support to international students by viewing rental properties in London on their behalf and can confirm that the property exists and isn't a scam. More information Off-Campus Housing support for international students.

Are they asking you for money, gift cards, or Bitcoin?

Government officials, banks, phone companies and university staff will never ask you for gift cards or Bitcoin. If you have an outstanding balance on tuition, bills or fines, you will be informed of secure payment methods.

If someone approaches you while you are at a bank or ATM asking for help, don't enter your bank information or give them money.

If you are unsure hang up and if they are making a legitimate request they will call back. For example, the Office of the Registrar calls you about your outstanding tuition. It is ok to hang up and call their main contact number 519-661-2100. If it was a legitimate request, they will help you, if not they will let you know it was a scam call.

Is the threat or information they are providing seem vague, inconsistent or incorrect?

Government officials, banks, phone providers or similar will provide you with everything you need to know and will encourage you to ask questions. It is their job to know the information extremely well to provide support. If you feel uneasy, hang up. 

Similarly, legitimate websites are well planned out and thoroughly reviewed. Some scam sites are quickly put together and may have spelling and grammar errors. Do not provide these sites with any information, click links, or download any files.

Are they asking you to click a link?

If you aren't expecting the link, do not click it. Your phone company will accommodate your overpayment on your next bill, and any winnings you receive from a contest or lottery will be given to you in person. Your bank will never send you a link in an email to fix your account. They will send you an email with steps to log into your personal account and fix any errors. If you receive a link but are unsure if it is safe, do not click it. Only click links that you initiated. Some examples of legitimate links: resetting your password on a social media account will result in a link being sent to you immediately.

For more information on risky links, please visit Cybersmart.

Resources and More Information: