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How To Avoid E-Transfer Scams in Canada

Written by Jessica Steer
Reviewed by Emily Gardner
In Canada, Interac E-transfer is a common method for transferring money to friends and family members, purchasing items, and paying bills. However, before you send or accept e-transfers, it’s important to be sure that they’re legitimate and free from suspicious activity. You don’t want to send funds to the wrong person or expose yourself to identity theft.
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    Since e-transfer has become so common in Canada, it’s become a target for scammers. From scam text messages to emails, you want to be sure that they contain legitimate information from a legitimate source before you open anything.

    This can confuse a lot of people since e-transfer is known to send emails and text messages. However, having the knowledge of different online scams can reduce your risk and help you protect yourself financially. 

    The Safety of Using E-transfers

    Essentially, e-transfers are safe. However, you do need to be aware of any e-transfers that you’re accepting and make your security question difficult to avoid possible interception. If that still makes you nervous, the safest way to ensure that you receive those funds is to sign up for auto-deposit. In this case, the funds will automatically be deposited into your bank account. 

    How to Tell if E-transfers Are Fake

    If you’re going to receive an e-transfer, it’s going to be in one of three ways. It will either be auto-deposited into your account and sent with a security question by email or text message. If you do receive an e-transfer, it’s going to be a legitimate email from Interac that requires you to accept the funds. A fake email or text will likely be from a different address and have wording that is different from that of a legitimate message. It will also likely have spelling errors. 

    Another red flag that you’re receiving a fake e-transfer is that the funds are being sent from a company. Typically, companies send funds via cheque or direct deposit. For example, the Canada Revenue Agency wouldn’t e-transfer your funds. They would send you any funds owed through direct deposit or a cheque in the mail. 

    How E-transfer Scams Work

    How e-transfer scams work depends on the type of scam. A few popular scams are more common and can be very convincing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. No matter which scam you come across, you should take the same precautions to protect your own account. 

    Job E-transfer Scams

    The job e-transfer scam is a popular scam now that many people find jobs online. In this particular scam, a potential employer contacts you regarding a high-paying position. Often, the benefits that they offer with the job position are too good to be true. An e-transfer scam involves accepting and sending money through e-transfers.

    With this particular scam, any funds that you accept through e-transfer are taken from another who has fallen victim. Banks can flag this and shut down your account until they rule you out as a suspect. Before the scam gets this far and you end up falling victim, though, it’s important to recognize the potential signs. 

    With many of these scams, the job offers you receive from a scam are jobs that you haven’t applied for. You’ll also notice that you can’t find any information about the business online either. Both of these are signs that the job isn’t legitimate. If you get further into the process, though, you’ll notice that the employer will start to be interested in how much you’re able to withdraw from the ATM and if you can receive and send e-transfers. You’ll also notice that any potential e-transfers are done through a different company. 

    Pet Scams

    If you’re looking to purchase a pet from a breeder, it’s common to find postings through online sites such as Kijiji and Craigslist. In doing so, you have to be careful, though, since there are plenty of scammers that are pretending to be breeders. 

    These scammers often post exotic or rare pets that cost a lot of money. Before you send money over, though, you want to be sure that the posting is legitimate. If it isn’t, you’ll notice that the seller wants the funds before you even see the pet. They’ll often want a large sum of money sent to a different email address, and they’ll avoid contact with you. 

    With these scammers, any searches you make on them won’t show any previous history or a business license. They also will likely refuse to let you come get the pet and try to make a pickup location where they won’t show up. It’s possible that they may also want to ship the pet on a journey that doesn’t seem safe. 

    Intercepted E-transfers

    One form of an e-transfer scam that isn’t as easy to spot is the intercepted scam. In a case like this, a hacker will hack into your device or install malware. Once you send an e-transfer using this device, they will be able to either guess or see the password and accept the e-transfer before it reaches the intended recipient. 

    Once the e-transfer has been intercepted, you’ll get a message saying that it’s been accepted. You may notice the interception because the person who was supposed to receive the e-transfer didn’t get it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse the transaction once the e-transfer is accepted. The best way to protect yourself from this type of scam is to have the recipient set up for auto-deposit recipient’s account or to have a difficult security question that only the recipient can answer.

    Bad Deposit Scam

    This last scam is tricky. In this particular scam, the scammers will attempt to use a fraudulent cheque from your account that will ultimately bounce. When the funds from the cheque are put on hold, the scammer can then e-transfer funds from your account to theirs. This process is referred to as chequekiting, and, unfortunately, you probably won’t notice any of this until the bank flags your account.     

    One of the worst things about this scam is that not only the scammer but you as well get flagged. This is because this type of crime is often a two-person job. This means that an investigation will have to be done, and until it’s completed, you may be considered a suspect. In the event of this type of scam, you’ll also notice your account will have an accepted e-transfer you didn’t send, and your bank card/payment card will stop working.


    Accepting An E-transfer From A Stranger

    Before you accept an e-transfer from a stranger, it’s important to verify that the sender is legitimate and that you were supposed to receive it. The easiest way to do this is to contact the sender through another channel, such as text message, email, social media accounts or phone call. If the sender verifies that you were supposed to receive it and confirms what it was for, then it should be safe to accept the funds. 

    However, if you think that the e-transfer is fraudulent, then you shouldn't accept it. In this case, the best thing to do is forward the message immediately to [email protected]. This will make Interac aware of the potential scam.

    Getting Scammed With Auto Deposit

    If you auto-deposit with your Interac e-transfer, the possibility of being scammed is much lower than if you have a security question. This is because the funds are automatically transferred to your bank account, which is linked to the email address. This gives the scammers no time to intercept the transfer.

    With auto-deposit, only one account can be linked to an email address. For this reason, it’s important to check your account and verify that your auto deposit is still set up. If it is, then the funds will go to your account. If it’s not, and when you try to add it, you’re unable to, then this means that someone has hacked your email. In this case, it’s best to open a new email address and deactivate the old one if you’re able to. 

    Facebook Marketplace Scams

    Along with the other Interac e-transfer fraud, a common scam is done using Facebook marketplace. These have ramped up since the buying and selling of items online has become so much more common, and the scam itself is relatively simple. It’s commonly used with hard-to-find items that attract specific buyers.

    Once you agree to purchase an item, the seller may request that you pay for the product before you pick it up. Be careful with this because they may ghost you once the funds are received. In some cases, you may also find out that their bank account is frozen or fraudulent. This can also happen in reverse when you go to sell something using these platforms. 

    With this particular scam, you can use your funds and the item. In some cases, you can even be accused of performing the scam yourself from your bank or credit union. 

    Getting An E-transfer Returned if You Were Scammed

    When it comes to e-transfer, you can’t get your funds back once the transaction has been accepted or auto-deposited. There’s no way to cancel it. Once the transaction is completed, it’s completed. If you have been scammed, though, it’s best to talk to your financial institution immediately to see if you qualify for any reimbursement or anti-theft. You should also contact the Canadian anti-fraud centre to report the theft. 

    Interac Text 10001

    If you’re expecting to receive an Interac e-transfer through text message, then you should be expecting a text from 10001. That said, scammers have been known to spoof that number. For this reason, if you received this text and weren’t expecting an e-transfer, it’s best to confirm with the sender that they did send you money. If you open the link and it is a scammer, they could gain access to your banking information and take your money. It’s important to do this for every e-transfer email as well. 

    Final Thoughts

    In Canada, e-transfer is one of the most commonly used methods to send money. It’s known for being fast and secure and contains transaction encryption. However, there’s always a chance of getting scammed. In order to protect yourself from this situation, it’s important to understand how it’s possible to get scammed and take the necessary steps to avoid e-transfer scams. 

    The best way to protect yourself is to verify any e-transfers you receive before you accept them. If you’re using a security question, it’s important to make sure that this question is unique and only you and the recipient know the answer. You should also avoid using the same password and same security question often, and change your security questions regularly. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to use auto-deposit. 

    Using e-transfer to send and receive money is a fast and convenient way to send money in Canada. As long as you’re vigilant regarding who you’re receiving money from and who you send it to, it’s a great way to transfer money. The fact that you can set up auto-deposit also means you can receive your e-transfer almost instantly. 


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