Since the beginning of the month, there has been a spike in COVID-19 related scams in Canada. The most common reports are fraudulent merchandise sales and phishing emails.
The fraudulent merchandise sales frequently involve the sale and/or giveaway of health-related products such as facemasks and COVID-19 tests. There are also "free" products being advertised where the victim must pay a fake shipping fee.
The phishing emails impersonate agencies such as the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and more. Typically, individuals are contacted through email or SMS and provided a link which prompts them to fill out personal and banking information. In some cases, the link contains suspected malware.
Other scams that occur involve individuals being advised of fake positive test results, donation campaigns, door-to-door decontamination services, and self-assessment surveys.
Here are some tips to remember if you are contacted:
- Never give out personal or financial details if you didn't initiate the call.
- If you didn't initiate the contact, you don't know who you're talking to.
- Don't click on suspicious links or attachments.
- Install anti-virus software.
- Be skeptical of emails even if they look legitimate.
- Check the "from" address by hovering over the name.
- Check the Canadian Anti-Fraud website for a list of reported scams.
We encourage anyone who receives these texts or emails to go online and report them to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm
If you have been the victim of a fraud, report it to your local police service and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at: www.antifraudcentre.ca. You should also contact your bank and credit card company if you believe your personal or financial information has been compromised.