COVID-19 Fraud alert

Where there’s fear and increasing anxiety over COVID-19, enter in the fraudsters from around the globe. As Canadians work from home and use social media now more than ever to stay in touch with world events and our loved ones, scammers are using that vulnerability to prey on us.

Fraud to watch out for in general

  • Fraudsters take advantage of fear around big headline news, like the Corona Virus to steal money from unsuspecting customers.
  • Expect to see more phishing attacks – saying money from the government is available to you – they use malware to infect your computer and phone.  DON’T click links, slow down.
  • You might get emails/texts saying that your bank account is being shut down – don’t respond to those either.
  • Robo calls are starting already.  That you owe money to the CRA or other threats.  Don’t respond.  Ideally, don’t answer.  If the call is legit, they’ll leave a message.
  • Also, calls from fake government employees saying they need to confirm some financial details to disclose your claims.  Don’t divulge any info over the phone, email or text.  Contact the government or your Financial Institution or branch of government directly.
  • Working from home increases “sweepstakes” scams – this was big in 2008/09 financial crisis and will likely reemerge.
  • Emergency relief requests and tug of the heart money pleas via text, email and social media.

Canada’s Cyber Spies on the job

Yesterday CBC reported that Canada’s cyber spies are taking down sites as the COVID-19 battle against fraud begins.

The RCMP says fraudsters posed as the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Revenue Agency and Canadian Border Services.

The Communications Security Establishment says it’s already taken down a number of fraudulent sites.

Some examples include fraudsters contacting you saying that you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and they need your credit card for a prescription. Ultraviolet disinfection lamps that can kill the virus marketed on social media. Of course, also not true.

As we lock down as a country and quarantine or self-isolate ourselves, we’re connecting with each other on social media now more than ever. And that’s a great thing. However, you need to be extra cautious when believing information is true and never click on a link or attachment.

Investment scams:

  • Taking advantage of extreme volatility in the stock market were a hallmark of the financial crisis.
  • Your portfolio is down, and fraudsters convince investors their scheme is safe and more profitable than the stock market.  Could be fake certificates of deposit, private placements, real estate deals or bogus gold scams.

Resources:

  • There’s a number of financial planners offering free financial consultations during the crisis. Check out https://kindwealth.ca/coronavirus-response/
  • I’ll be hosting, with FP Canada Facebook Live this Friday at 3pm ET. We’ll cover more scams to be on the lookout for as well as the latest federal aid plan and emergency benefits you and your family may be eligible for. Stay tuned for more details at kelleykeehnbiz on FB.
  • Catch my BNN Bloomberg interview from yesterday with Amanda Lang https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/personal-finance/video/rise-in-personal-finance-scams-amid-covid-19~1927150

And lastly, here’s a detailed warning list and tips to protect yourself from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre:

COVID-19 fraud

March 18, 2020: As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, watch out for associated scams. Fraudsters want to profit from consumers' fears, uncertainties and misinformation. Fraudsters are exploiting the crisis to facilitate fraud and cybercrime.

Protect yourself, beware of:

  • Spoofed government, healthcare or research information
  • Unsolicited calls, emails and texts giving medical advice or requesting urgent action or payment
    • If you didn't initiate contact, you don't know who you're communicating to
    • Never respond or click on suspicious links and attachments
    • Never give out your personal or financial details
  • Unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims, products or research
  • High-priced or low-quality products purchased in bulk by consumers and resold for profit
    • These items may be expired and/or dangerous to your health
  • Questionable offers, such as:
    • miracle cures
    • herbal remedies
    • vaccinations
    • faster testing
  • Fake and deceptive online ads, including:
    • cleaning products
    • hand sanitizers
    • other items in high demand

Reported scams

Fraudsters are posing as:

  • Cleaning or heating companies
    • offering duct cleaning services or air filters to protect from COVID-19
  • Local and provincial hydro/electrical power companies
    • threatening to disconnect your power for non-payment
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization
    • offering fake lists for sale of COVID-19 infected people in your neighbourhood
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
    • giving false results saying you have been tested positive for COVID-19
    • tricking you into confirming your health card and credit card numbers for a prescription
  • Red Cross and other known charities
    • offering free medical products (e.g. masks) for a donation
  • Government departments
    • sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails
    • tricking you into opening malicious attachments
    • tricking you to reveal sensitive personal and financial details
  • Financial advisors
    • pressuring people to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease
    • offering financial aid and/or loans to help you get through the shutdowns
  • Door-to-door salespeople
    • selling household decontamination services
  • Private companies
    • offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale
      • Only hospitals can perform the tests
      • No other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate results
    • selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease
      • Unapproved drugs threaten public health and violate federal laws

Trusted resources and advice

  • Reference the latest health information from these legitimate sources:
  • Contact your insurance provider to answer any health insurance questions
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software installed and keep your operating system up to date

Get the latest COVID-19 financial emergency updates & resources. View