How to spot COVID-19 related scams?
While the rest of the world is stuck home, scammers are still at work. The CAFC has been warning Canadians to stop and think before sharing any personal information over the phone or online. You should also check with friends, family, or official government websites before offering up information to anyone that looks suspicious.
Below are just a few widespread scams that the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC) has been warning people of:
- Companies offering fake COVID-19 tests
- Companies selling unproven drugs to treat symptoms
- Cleaning companies claiming their services such duct-cleaning can protect people from COVID-19
- They are posing as local or provincial hydro companies threatening to shut off power amid the pandemic due to non-payment
- Scammers are impersonating Public Health Agency of Canada and are giving false results saying you have been tested positive for COVID-19 to trick you into confirming your health card and credit card numbers for a prescription.
Some key facts to keep you safe from scams:
- Only hospitals and public health agencies are authorized to perform coronavirus tests and will not charge. No other tests are genuine or guaranteed.
- Real public health officials will not ask for your credit card information.
- If you want to donate to the Canadian Red Cross, or a similar charity, seek out its official website rather than responding to a text message claiming to be from the organization.
Up-to-date information about COVID-19 can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website or on your provincial health agency website.
How to spot a scam?
- Always check the source of the email: Fraudulent e-mails or texts can look like they come from a real organization. If you have any doubts about an e-mail or text claiming to contain health information or requesting donations for Canadians affected by COVID-19, do not click on any link in the email or in the text. Go to the official website of that organization and contact them from there.
- Be cautious: If someone is asking for your personal or financial information that does not look valid do not send them personal information over email.
- Donations and charities: If you receive a communication to donate to a charity, verify and ensure that the charity is registered. If you do not feel comfortable don’t be pressured into making donation.
- Never click on suspicious links or attachments: Unsolicited emails that prompt you to click on an attachment should always raise a red flag when you are checking your inbox. Phishing emails or texts often include embedded links that look valid, but if you hover over them, you can usually see the real hyperlink. If the hyperlinked address is not the same as what appears in the email or text, it is probably a phishing attempt. Does the email include an attachment that you were not expecting? Never open suspicious attachments.
If you suspect that the email or text is a scam, there are two things you should do: report it and delete it. Reporting a fraudulent email to the organization being spoofed can help prevent other people from being victimized.
The government of Canada has information for Canadians about COVID-19, including a toll-free phone number and email address here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html