WATCH: How to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19 Scams

COVID-19 scams

A new text message scam targeting Canadians who have applied for the new emergency response benefit is one of many making its rounds as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images

While Canadians try their best to self-isolate and follow social distancing protocols amid the COVID-19 crisis, a new breed of scammers is taking advantage of the anxiety, fear and desperation we’re all experiencing.

These new scams, which began cropping up when the pandemic started, range from unsolicited phone calls from fraudsters promising to miracle cures and protective equipment to text scams claiming to be from the Canadian government or World Health Organization.

In an effort to protect older Canadians from falling victim to these criminals, we invited David Cravit, chief marketing officer at CARP, and Vivianne Gauci, vice-president of marketing at HomeEquity Bank, to a Facebook Live session to explain how these new scams work and provide some tips to avoid them. (Watch the full session below.)

One of the frauds discussed is a recent text scam that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians about in a press conference last week that targets people who have applied for the Emergency Response Benefit.

The offending text message tells users that their benefit money has been deposited and includes a link to click for confirmation. Don’t click the link!  According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, it will bring you to a fake website that will ask for your banking information.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Gauci. She says it’s never a good idea to click on a link from an unsolicited text or email message. “That’s all it takes for somebody to infect your device with some sort of a virus, which can allow a scammer to take over your device,” she explains.

Cravit says scammers are taking advantage of the constant updates we’re receiving about the virus as well as financial support the government is offering.

“Every day, there’s legitimately something new to find out, and these scammers are riding in on the crest of that wave,” he explains.

Watch our Facebook Live video on COVID-19 scams for more tips to help you protect yourself