Watch out for the Pandemic Related Scams

COVID-19 has changed everything about our lives, including the types and methods of fraudulent activities. Here are a few examples of scams that are making their way around since the pandemic started.

Working from Home

With more people working from home, scammers have been posing as people from companies that provide work related services such as technical support. The caller will typically build trust by knowing your job title, email address, and other information that they likely found online, including on LinkedIn. They’ll usually then send you an email and ask you to click on a link in it that contains bad stuff like spyware, ransomware.

Protect yourself by never providing your personal or work information over the phone unless you initiated the call or know the caller personally. If you receive a call like this hang up. If you question the legitimacy of a call or email from someone in or associated with work just pick up the phone and call them, it could prevent a data breach.

Cell Smishing

No, not smelt fishing; cell smishing is basically fraud through text messages. Recently, smishers have been sending texts that appear to come from your cell service provider and are designed to look like a security alert asking you to validate your account before you lose access. Unfortunately, clicking the link brings up a convincing, but fake, website asking you to sign in, giving the scammers your login information.

To avoid this, if your mobile device allows it, hold your finger down on the shortened link in the text to see the full web address. If it looks suspicious, call your service provider to confirm before clicking or to flag the scam to them. Always log in to online accounts through your phone’s browser or mobile app instead of clicking unexpected links, and use different passwords to minimize the impact if your credentials are accidentally shared.

“New” COVID-19 Data

We’re all monitoring new cases and the bad guys will try to exploit that by sending emails claiming to have information about new cases in your community. These are often intense, urgent, and designed to get you to take action quickly, not think about it.

Always think twice before you click and never click a link or attachment from an email you weren’t expecting. Stay informed by going directly to a trusted news source such as CBC News.

Fake Stimulus Packages

Government assistance is one more thing scammers are using to their advantage. Phony emails promise information on how the stimulus package will benefit you and could appear to be from government officials or even your HR Department. Some may even offer access to money right away.

Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Government payments will also come through formal channels, they will not typically email without your consent. If you receive an email from a government agency, we recommend visiting the official website and logging in directly.

Fake Charities

In many cases this pandemic is bringing out the best in our communities as we try to help one another out. This compassion can be used by scammers posing as charitable organizations that fund research, support hospitals, or provide help to victims.

If you want to help we recommend making donations through a not-for-profit’s official webpage or other channels. There are many amazing causes in our community, some of our Members doing good that could use a hand include:

Northwestern Ontario


Thunder Bay

Ear Falls

At the end of the day the best advice is to stop, look, and think. Learn more about how to stay safe online or if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud visit to find out what to do next.

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