COVID-19 scams are making the rounds.
British Columbians are being targeted by fraudsters who want to profit from their fears of the coronavirus.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is reporting that scammers are setting up websites to sell bogus products and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood.
They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, offering protective gear or detection kits, or fake home sanitizing services.
There are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent COVID-19.
Vaccines available for the general public are months away and will be communicated via legitimate government and health authorities.
Some examples of COVID-19 frauds and facts include:
Fraud – Private companies offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale
Fact – Only hospitals can perform the test, no other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate results
Fraud – Door-to-door solicitors offering fake decontamination services
Fact – Your Provincial Health Authority will give you tips on how to decontaminate your home.
Fraud – Fraudsters posing as police have been imposing on-the-spot fines to consumers wearing masks claiming that wearing a mask in public goes against a full-face veil law
Fact – It isn’t illegal to wear a mask for health reasons
Fraud – Fraudsters urge you to invest in hot new stocks related to the virus
Fact – You should only ever purchase stocks through reputable sources and banking institutions.
Fraud – Fraudsters sending emails, texts or online campaigns that capitalize on the public’s fears about Covid-19
Fact – Don’t respond to unsolicited email, texts or phone calls. Don’t click on any links or give any information about yourself. If you have any doubts about where the email came from, make sure to check the identity of the sender., if you receive a suspicious phone call, hang-up.
Fraud – Fraudsters are creating fraudulent and deceptive online ads offering: cleaning products, hand sanitizers, other items in high demand
Fact – Buy from companies or individuals you know by reputation or from past experience.
Before checking it out, make sure you’re still on a reputable website and have not been redirected to a third-party page. Be on the lookout for sellers from far away or that have limited or no reviews. Use a credit card when shopping online; many offer protection and may give you a refund. Regularly check your credit card statements for frequent or unknown charges.
The RCMP is also offering these tips on how to protect yourself from scammers. They include:
- Beware of high-priced or low-quality products
- Beware of unsolicited medical advisory emails or texts with links or attachments
- Fraudsters may use spoofing, which means they make it look as if the origin of the email or text is legitimate by using identifying information similar to government and health care organizations
- Beware of unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims or research
- Don’t be pressured into making a donation
- Verify that a charity is registered
If you’ve lost money or valuables or handed out your personal information, contact your local police.
If you’ve been contacted but have not lost anything or given your personal information, report online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Legitimate information is available through these outlets:
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (BC Centre for Disease Control). Click here for the website.
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak (World Health Organization). Click here for the website.