How to Protect Yourself form COVID-19 Fraud

The pandemic is causing a spike in reported fraud cases across Canada

COVID-19 scammers take advantage of vulnerable times. (Nicole Gonzalez Filos)

Scammers are taking advantage of vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 crisis, targeting senior citizens in particular.

“The Canada Anti-Fraud Center has received hundreds of reports from elderly victims who have had their money or personal identification stolen,” reads an article on CTV News. 

Coronavirus-related scams have increased in frequency during the last couple of months, like the distribution of Valpro Ranger 821 and 821V masks.

The masks were advertised online and certified by the U.S, but Global News was able to identify that the masks were counterfeit models. They were pulled from websites in India, Pakistan, and other countries.

Fortunately, the Surrey RCMP says that they have not received any complaints about fraud related to the pandemic yet.

However, more elaborate scams are appearing as the pandemic continues, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is educating Canadians about how to avoid them.

One of the scams involves people posing as charity workers asking for donations to help coronavirus victims. Before moving forward with making a donation to a charity you’re unfamiliar with, it’s always best to do research on the organization beforehand.

A website called Charity Navigator is a useful tool that can help in moments of uncertainty. Just type in the name of the charity, and if it’s real, you’ll be able to see how many ratings it has and how many people donate to it as well as how transparent they are in regards to where their money goes.

One of the scams reported by the Canadian Anti-Fraud centre was someone posing as a representative of the Red Cross, offering masks and personal protective equipment in exchange for a donation.

People have also been scammed by fake companies offering loans and other financial assistance. A good place to look for legitimate financial assistance is Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which shows different categories people can apply to for help.

Another reported scam has involves people posing as local and provincial hydro and electrical power company workers, and threatening to disconnect the power for non-payment.

In B.C. , utility companies like BC Hydro have not made such claims. Instead, they have introduced a relief fund to help customers.

“If you or your spouse/partner have stopped working due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for three months of bill credit based on your average consumption,” reads its website. 

Some private companies have even been offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale. Though it might seem like a generous offer, only health workers can perform coronavirus tests on other people.

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