Times of crisis can bring out the best in people, unfortunately, it can also bring out the worst.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, there have been a number of COVID-19 related scams aimed at the most vulnerable by taking advantage of fear and misinformation. It’s important to keep yourself and your loved ones, especially those who may be more susceptible to fraud, armed with the facts.
Here are some scams that are being used to take advantage of people during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Emails, phone calls and text messages encouraging seniors to apply for COVID-19 related government benefits.
- A version of the CRA scam where fraudsters threaten that your provincial medical benefits have run out, or are running out, and you need to send money to reinstate them or to buy private medical insurance.
- A phone call from someone posing as a representative from a provincial or municipal health authority saying you have been found to either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it. The caller then asks for your credit card to pay for testing or results.
- A phone call from someone posing as a Canada Post or UPS representative saying you have a package (often international) that they’ve attempted to deliver but you need to pay duty or shipping first.
- Fake financial planners calling about opportunities to boost your investment portfolio after losses due to COVID-19.
- Fake bank messages asking for a social insurance number and banking information to set up direct deposit for government funds due to COVID-19.
- Websites asking for credit card donations to help purchase personal protective equipment for front line health care workers.
- A phone call from a fake community organization claiming they’re trying to help socially isolated seniors. In some cases, these callers are trying to identify vulnerable seniors to gain access to their home to sell them things or steal their personal information.
- Romance scams through social media and online dating sites targeting seniors who may feel lonely due to isolation during the crisis.
There are also legitimate organizations reaching out to vulnerable seniors during the crisis. It’s important to verify that the organization you're dealing with is legitimate before you take any other action. And never give out your financial information.
If you think you or a loved one may have fallen prey to a scam or want to learn more about how to protect against fraud, I encourage you to visit trusted sources of information, including the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.