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Senior scams on the rise in Canada

Senior citizens in Canada are being targeted by phone scammers. 

In this blog post we explain three common types of phone scams that prey on seniors. Plus you’ll also learn why criminals love to target Canadians.

Canada senior benefits scams

Some of the most common senior scams in Canada are ones that go after retirement benefits and other government benefits. The key to stealing benefits from seniors is to first obtain their social insurance number (often referred to simply as “SIN”).

In Canada, a social insurance number is needed to obtain a job and to receive retirement benefits, tax refunds, and other financial credits from the government. That’s why it’s so valuable to criminals. Phone scammers can use a stolen social insurance number to divert social insurance benefits into their account, or they can use the SIN to enable someone to illegally work in Canada.  

The Government of Canada warns citizens to protect their social insurance number and never reveal it to anyone over the phone unless they have initiated the call. The government says  common tactics of social insurance scams include a call, text or email that:

  • Claims your SIN is compromised
  • Offers to replace your SIN
  • Threatens to lock or cancel your SIN
  • Requests you take urgent action


The warning tells citizens to be wary of messages that claim to be from the Canadian government. It’s easy to spoof a phone number to make it appear to be from an official Canadian agency. (See our blog post: Canadians plagued by government impersonation phone scams.)

Hiya has seen an increase in reports of social insurance number scams since the beginning of this year, often receiving more than 100 reports of social insurance scams each week. These reports come from Canadian citizens using Hiya Protect, Hiya's call protection service, through their phone carrier, device manufacturer or the Hiya mobile app. When an unwanted call comes in, users can tap a prompt on their phone to report it as fraud or nuisance, and they can leave a comment describing the call they just received.  

Reports of social insurance scams increased in January 2024 and have stayed high ever since.

Hiya has seen an increase in social insurance phone scams in Canada in 2024.

Hiya has seen an increase in social insurance phone scams in Canada in 2024.

Grandparent scams in Canada

Grandparent scams have been common in Canada for quite some time (see our blog post: Grandparent scam on the rise in Canada), but the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says there has been a significant increase in grandparent scams since 2021. With these scams, fraudsters call  seniors pretending to be a grandchild who is in trouble and in immediate need of money for bail or some other emergency. 

On April 18, the Ontario Provincial Police arrested 14 people in Montreal linked to grandparent scams that targeted victims across Canada. In a joint investigation that included 11 Ontario and Quebec police agencies, the group identified 126 victims who lost $739,000 between Jan. 22, 2024 and April 8, 2024. A press release issued by the Ontario Provincial Police said the group of suspects is responsible for more than $2.2 million in losses Canada-wide since February 2022.

The Ontario Provincial Police said the suspects pretended to be officers or lawyers and claimed to have the victim’s grandchild in custody. They would request bail money to secure the grandchild’s release. In most cases, unsuspecting couriers were used to collect the money. 

An infographic from the Ontario Provincial Police shows the location of victims (red dots) of grandparent scams throughout Canada, in a joint police force crackdown titled Project Sharp.

An infographic from the Ontario Provincial Police shows the location of victims (red dots) of grandparent scams throughout Canada, in a joint police force crackdown titled Project Sharp. 


Investment scams (and why criminals love to target Canadians)

A recent investigative report by Canada’s public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada reveals call centers in Eastern Europe that specifically target Canadians. The online article, Why Canada is a main target of investment scammers, includes interviews with both a whistleblower who used to work in one of the scam call centers, and a private investigator working for a firm that specializes in fraud recovery for its clients.

In the article, senior investigator Mark Solomons explained why international scammers go after Canadians:

“These criminals love Canada. Canadians are friendly. They have a relatively high savings rate and fairly good retirement provision. So there’s a lot of friendly people sitting on pretty large nest eggs in Canada who are a juicy target for these types of scammers.”

Solomons added that enforcement actions and extraditions are lacking in Canada, so scammers feel like they can get away with their crimes.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns citizens about eight ongoing investment scams in Canada, from investments in new cryptocurrency exchanges to buying gems or business franchises. There are even “investment recovery scams” that call previously-scammed victims promising they can recover the money they’ve lost.

How to fight back against senior scams in Canada

Scammers are constantly changing their tactics, and the only way to fight back is with a solution that adapts to ever-changing tactics.

For carriers, there’s Hiya Protect. It’s a complete call protection solution that enables mobile network carriers to protect their subscribers by blocking fraud calls and labeling spam calls. It uses a proprietary multi-layer approach that analyzes the phone number, call characteristics, the call recipient, and even the calling enterprise’s history across all numbers used.

For enterprises, there’s Hiya Connect. Hiya Connect’s branded caller ID enables businesses to display their company name, logo and reason for the call on the recipient’s mobile phone, so customers can feel safe when they answer.

For individuals, there’s the Hiya mobile app. It’s a great solution for individuals who use a phone carrier that doesn’t offer spam protection at the network level.   

Author Hiya Team