Even at the worst of times, the criminal element is on the prowl looking for a way to scam people out of their hard-earned money. The perpetrators are always looking for the most vulnerable people at their most vulnerable time. From all indications, it would seem that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be fertile ground for the worst of the criminal element.
During the COVID pandemic, it’s important that people all over the world seek safety within one another. That means everyone should be looking out for each other at a time when the world is in total disarray. What does safety mean? It means making sure no one has to suffer any more than necessary.
Frauds and scams are a problem in our society even during the best of times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are getting sick while lives are being lost. For many other people, fear abounds. To ease some of these fears, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been doing what it can to put money and services in the hands of Canadians in need. At the same time, criminals are doing everything they can to get their hands on what the CERB and other organizations have to offer.
From CERB fraud emails to CRA scam texts, Canadians are being bombarded by criminal attempts to get money or information. We feel compelled to provide you with some information about the current COVID scams being perpetrated. To that end, here are six scams of which you need to be aware.
1. Fake COVID Test Results
The last thing anyone wants to find out right now is that they have tested positive for the COVID virus. Scammers are well aware of this fear and are more than willing to exploit it.
They do so by telling victims via SMS or a voice call that they have recently tested positive for the COVID virus. The criminals then proceed to go “Smishing or Vishing” for personal and credit card information in return for downloadable COVID-19 testing information.
If you haven’t been tested, you should immediately recognize someone is committing fraud. If you have been tested in the past, you need to be aware that public health officials don’t seek financial and credit card information.
2. Free PPE Scams
It’s very common to see the Red Cross’s name come up in scams related to tragic events. It’s no surprise that the COVID pandemic has brought the Red Cross’ name center stage once again.
In an effort to support public safety, people are looking for resources they can use to protect themselves and others. With this type of fraud, criminals are asking people to contact the Red Cross for free masks. At the same time, they prompt people to make a donation to the Red Cross. These masks don’t exist, and the donations are not going to the Red Cross.
3. Antibody Test
While there are plenty of opportunities for you to get tested for COVID-19 there are certain protocols legitimate providers will follow. The proposed provider is not legitimate if they are offering the tests as follows:
- Offering incentives to get tested
- Providing access to a test for cash at a reasonable price
- Telling you that the Canadian government is now requiring that everyone gets tested
What are the fraudsters looking to get? They want your personal and healthcare information, the information they can use to perpetuate a host of identity theft crimes. If you want to take an antibody test for COVID, you should get them from legitimate health agencies or pharmacies.
4. Cerb Payment Crimes
With the CERB sending out bundles of money to Canadians in the form of COVID relief, criminals are coming out of the woodwork to go after that money or personal information.
A favourite tactic for the criminal element is to promise very important information to recipients or prospective recipients. They offer this information via email or text. Of course, these are smishing or phishing campaigns that will get access to your personal information. Remember, health officials are not out there actively pursuing information. It’s incumbent on you to deal with the CERB or any other organization directly if you believe you are eligible for relief.
5. Contact Tracing Scammers
With safety on everyone’s mind, people are consistently being asked for contact information for contact tracing purposes. This has spawned a large body of scammers that are masquerading as contact tracers. They contact people and tell them they have been exposed to the COVID virus. This technique is effective because everyone is being asked for contact information everywhere they go.
While it’s difficult to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate contract tracers, there is one way to know immediately if a scam is being perpetuated. If there is any mention of money or a request for a taxpayer ID, you should immediately stop the process and contact law enforcement.
6. Cybercriminals Attacking Children
During the COVID pandemic, children are spending more time sequestered at home. That means they are spending more time on their computers and mobile devices. Cybercriminals are well aware of what has been going on and are responding accordingly.
One very interesting phishing tactic these criminals are employing involves downloadable educational material. Games and app downloaders are also fertile ground for phishing expeditions. The goal is to get kids or parents to click on these types of links just once and the trap has been set.
Remember, it’s incumbent on you to teach your kids to never respond to parties they don’t know. Your motivation to do this is protecting your family’s financial security.
Indeed, the COVID pandemic has brought the Canadian population together in search of safety for everyone. It’s a shame scammer and fraudsters are so quick to hit people when they are fearful and vulnerable. Of course, it’s a reality with which everyone has to live. For your part, you need to stay alert. If someone or some company approaches your regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to proceed with caution. It only takes one mistake to put your family’s financial stability at risk.