Fraud and scams during COVID-19

Even with the countless examples of good deeds and the outpouring of support across communities, there are unfortunately still scammers who seek to take advantage of the public’s fears and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Most scams are attempts to get your personal information to steal your money or identity. The OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre are warning Ontarians about scams. However, there are simple steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim to one of these scams.

Signs of a phishing scam

The Government of Canada created a resource with signs of a phishing campaign

  • The message asks you to share personal information – this is a red flag whenever an email, text or phone call asks you to share your personal information. It does not hurt to be cautious and check with the organization who supposedly sent the message. Most legitimate organization would never ask you to share any personal information via email or text.
  • The message involves a threat – cyber criminals need something to motivate victims to give up personal information or money, so they rely on threats such as being fined or arrested to scare you into doing what they want you to.
  • The sender is suspicious – phishing emails often come from an email address that does not match the organization the sender claims to be from so always be sure to check the sender information despite how legitimate the message looks.
  • There is a suspicious looking link – phishing emails want you to click a link in the message text that will reroute you to a spoofed website to steal your personal information. A sign of a suspicious link is when the URL does not match the organization’s website URL.
  • Something about the message does not look right – phishing messages tend to have incorrect grammar, overuse punctuation marks, poorly designed templates, have font formatting differences or logos that look off
  • Use Common sense – if something looks suspicious or sounds too good to be true, it most likely is so be on the lookout for suspicious messages regularly

List of known scams or fraud related to COVID-19 and what to do

If you suspect a scam related to a Public Health

Remember:

  • Only hospitals, pharmacies and public health agencies are authorized to perform COVID-19 tests and will not charge. No other tests are genuine or guaranteed.
  • Real public health officials will not ask for your credit card information.
  • Public Health Ontario does not provide advice or contact individuals in any way about potential COVID-19 exposure or test results. This is the job of your local Public Health unit.

What to do if you’re a victim of fraud

Other safety and security precautions to take