Posted on Wednesday 24 November 2021
Scammers are alive and well throughout Canada, even during a pandemic. In fact, there’s a lot of reason to believe that the pandemic has made it easier than ever for scammers to do what they do best.
People across Canada have been struggling to make ends meet during record-high inflation and dealing with job insecurity or total job loss. On top of this, people are currently interacting with new regulations, healthcare procedures, and financial applications. That’s a ton of opportunity for scammers to create new schemes to get consumers to hand over their money, credit card numbers, addresses, or even their identities.
It’s been a banner year for scammers. From March 2020 to September 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported more than 28,000 Covid-19 related scams. More than 26,000 Canadians fell victim to fraud, resulting in a whopping $7.75 million lost to scammers.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from Covid-19 related scams? The first line of defence is to not give out personal information or financial details to a provider or a person you don’t know. However, scammers are effective because they can often masquerade as trusted sources.
Do you know how to spot a scammer when you see one? In the sections below, we’ll walk you through some of the known Covid-19 related scams and talk about some red flags to keep an eye out for to ensure that you don’t become a scammer’s next victim.
When it comes to Covid-19 related scams, there’s a long list of red flags to look out for. Here are some that you can spot if you’re trying to determine whether a situation is a scam:
The only way to ensure that you are getting a safe, tested, and effective vaccine is by going to a clinic working in conjunction with local public health authorities and the Canadian government.
Email addresses and phone numbers are easy enough for scammers to get, and it’s one of their favourite ways to trick consumers into giving up personal information or installing malicious software. Don’t do it!
If you get an unsolicited call from a company that claims to be a health care provider offering at-home vaccination kits, it’s probably a scam. They’ll probably ask for an upfront fee, too. This means consumers are putting cash directly into a scammer’s pockets. They may have even forced some to resort to online payday loans to recover from this loss.
When a scammer reaches out for payment, they’ll almost always make it sound like you are minutes away from legal action. Don’t fall for it. Never click on attachments or links that aren’t coming from a trusted provider (or that you haven’t requested directly).
It’s worth stating again that you should never give out any personal information or financial details.
With the right marketing gimmick, scammers have plenty of opportunities to get your money or personal information by pretending to sell products related to Covid-19. Keep an eye out for people or companies that reach out to you selling vaccinations, herbal remedies, quick testing, or vaccine passports.
There are plenty of reputable charities out there that are legit and truly committed to helping those suffering from Covid-19 and all of the after-effects that come with it. Unfortunately, when it comes to charitable donations, it’s all too easy for a scammer to pose as a charity and get consumers to give them money. Don’t ever let a charity pressure you into making a donation. If you do decide to donate, do your due diligence and make sure that the charity is verified with the Canadian government first.
Scammers might also be posing as representatives of financial programs sponsored by the Canadian government, like the CERB or CESB. So if someone contacts you, inviting you to apply or offering to help fill out applications, that’s a scammer in disguise. Both the CERB and CESB are officially closed to applications.
Most people are already struggling financially. Some are even trying hard to pay off debts faster and easily fall for quick money schemes. If a deal, offer, or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And taking the time to sit and think about an offer or researching about it can make all the difference.
One of the most successful ways a scammer succeeds is by using aggressive or bullying tactics via phone or text message. Sign up for the National Do Not Call list. Once you’re on the list, fraudulent companies or individuals will risk getting a hefty fine if they reach out to you again.
Suppose someone is asking you to divulge personal or sensitive information. In that case, a great tip is to let them know that you’re not comfortable giving out information at this time and that you’d like to get their contact information so you can get in touch with them later. This will not only save you from caving in, but it also buys you time to determine if they are legit.
The best thing that you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19 scams is to use your best possible judgement. Stay aware, check the source, and always verify that you are connecting with a trusted resource.
You must never give out your personal information to anyone that you don’t know, whether it’s a call, an email, or a text. Scammers have already taken millions of dollars from consumers throughout the pandemic. Don’t let your hard-earned money turn into a scammer’s next successful gig.