Privacy and security / June 29, 2020

COVID-19 fraud alert

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Man sitting on couch holding tablet computer

As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, you should watch out for associated scams. Fraudsters want to profit from consumers' fears, uncertainties and misinformation, and are exploiting the crisis to facilitate fraud and cyber crime.

Also, since the Government of Canada launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), it has become the subject of a number of scams.

To help protect yourself, beware of:

  • Questionable third-party companies offer to help you fill out applications, such as CERB
  • Criminals using your identity to sign-up for CERB and receive payments
  • Spoofed government, healthcare or research information
  • Unsolicited calls, emails and texts requesting urgent action or payment and/or offering medical advice, financial relief, or government assistance and compensation
    • If you didn't initiate contact, you don't know who you're communicating with
    • 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

Below are recent reported scams

Fraudsters are posing as:

  • Loan and financial service companies
    • offering loans, debt consolidation and other financial assistance services
  • 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 shut downs
  • Door-to-door sales people
    • selling household decontamination services
  • Private companies
    • offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale
      • Only health care providers 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
  • Offering assistance with filling out CERB applications for a fee

Trusted resources and advice

Frauds & scams
Fake news
Identity theft
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