scams in canada

These are the biggest scams in Canada you need to know about right now

Scams in Canada have been on the rise since the pandemic began, and police forces across the country as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have been warning residents to be aware of the signs in order to avoid getting duped.

"As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, watch out for associated scams," reads a bulletin alert on the CAFC's website from mid-March. "Fraudsters want to profit from consumers' fears, uncertainties and misinformation. Fraudsters are exploiting the crisis to facilitate fraud and cyber crime."

The CAFC's website covers a long list of scams that have been reported among residents in recent months, and they include unsolicited emails, text messages, phone calls and door-to-door visits.

They say fraudsters have been caught posing as:

  • Loan and financial service companies.
  • 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 power.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization selling fake lists of people infected with COVID-19 in a specific neighbourhood.
  • The Red Cross and other known charities offering free medical products for a donation.
  • Government departments sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails, tricking victims into opening malicious attachments and deceiving people into revealing sensitive personal and financial details.
  • Financial advisors.
  • Door-to-door sales people selling decontamination services.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada giving false coronavirus test results or tricking victims into confirming health card and credit card numbers for a prescription.
  • Private companies offering COVID-19-related products such as tests and fraudulent treatments.

In many of the above scenarios, scammers are said to have pressured victims into providing personal or financial information quickly while threatening legal action as a result of non-compliance.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) also put out a warning to Canadians back in April telling people to be very cautious when receiving emails or text messages that appear to be from a financial institution asking for personal or financial information.

According to the CAFC, between March 6 and May 25, there have been 1,005 reports of COVID-19 fraud in Canada, 269 Canadians have been victims of scams related to the pandemic and, altogether, $1.4 million has been lost to COVID-19 fraud.

In order to address the alarming rise in scams related to the pandemic, the government of Canada is investing $3 million to help combat false and misleading COVID-19 information.

Canadians who may have questions about scams are also encouraged to refer to trusted sources such as Government of Canada COVID-19 health, financial and security resources, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada COVID-19 information, and the latest health information from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.

The CAFC says residents should contact their insurance provider to answer any health insurance questions and make sure to have anti-virus software installed and keep operating systems up to date.

Anyone who is aware of or has been the victim of fraud or cybercrime, including COVID-19 scams and cyber threats, is asked to contact their local police and report the incident online to the CAFC's Fraud Reporting System

Lead photo by

Timm Mossholder

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