What's an emergency scam?

In an emergency scam, fraudsters pose as family members or friends. They'll call or send messages saying they’re in an emergency and need you to wire money immediately. Often, fraudsters target grandparents and pretend to be their grandchild in trouble. They may claim to be in a car accident, have trouble getting home from overseas or need money for bail.

How emergency scams work

  1. Someone contacts you claiming to be your family member or friend in an emergency. Sometimes, the caller is with someone claiming to be a police officer.
  2. The caller asks you questions to get your personal and banking information.
  3. The caller asks you to keep the situation hidden from other family members or friends, as they don’t want them finding out what happened.
  4. The caller asks you to wire money to them immediately.

Stay safe with our tips

  • Use a known phone number to contact the family member or friend claiming to be in trouble
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust
  • Don't share your credit or debit card details or any personal information
  • Be cautious and avoid acting immediately, regardless of the situation
  • Avoid using untraceable methods to deliver money, such as wire transfers
  • Confirm the identity of the individual by asking questions a stranger wouldn't be able to answer
  • Tell your trusted family members or friends about the situation, even if you’re told to keep it confidential

Explore more about emergency scams

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Opens in a new window.

Report fraud when it happens and track the latest data on fraud happening in Canada. 

The Little Black Book of Scams Opens in a new window.

Download the Canadian Competition Bureau's guide to scams in 8 different languages.

Canadian Bankers Association Opens in a new window.

Read about the latest news and trends in fraud awareness and prevention.