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Beware phishing scams tied to Covid-19: OPP

Web posted on April 01, 2020

Perth County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is warning the public to remain vigilant against scams and frauds related to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this moment cybercriminals are actively trying to capitalize on public concerns, uncertainties and misinformation around the outbreak to facilitate fraud and cybercrime. 

"Right now everyone needs to be wary of phishing attacks via email, text messaging and over the phone. Regardless of the scam type or method, these criminals all have the end goal of stealing your personal information and/or money. Please protect yourself and beware of any unfamiliar communications whether it be a text, a phone call or an email. Never share personal information including passwords or account numbers. Don't let your guard down, stay alert and stay safe." - OPP Detachment Commander Huron & Perth Counties, Inspector Rob Scott

Below are some active scams and phishing attacks that have been identified:

  • Communications through call, text or email camouflaged to appear as originating from legitimate organizations such as police departments asking recipients to share sensitive information such as usernames and passwords or to open malicious attachments or transfer funds.
  • Spreading of malware disguised as a coronavirus map or dashboard.
  • Charitable appeals claiming to help victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and social media posts promoting tips on how to prevent the virus along with false information about cases in your area.
  • Misleading ads or spam regarding masks or other personal protective gear, or other helpful hints to combat the virus. Also watch out for ads selling cleaning products, hand sanitizers and other items in high demand.
  • Requests impersonating essential services, such as a utility company or service asking for funds due to a late or unexpected charge.
  • Demands from agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or police services seeking immediate payment through cryptocurrencies or wire transfer services.
  • Financial advisors pressuring people to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease or offering financial aid and/or loans.

 RECOMMENDATIONS

 Be very wary of unsolicited calls, texts and emails, questionable offers and deceptive advertisements. If it looks even remotely suspicious do not open it. Only contact the sender after having verified their email, phone number or web address. Always make sure your computer is operating with up to date software with anti-virus protection. 

  •  Don't trust the senders email address as it may be spoofed, a familiar name in your inbox isn't always who you think it is. It's best to verify through an independent means.
  • Beware of email requests for personal information. Legitimate government agencies and businesses will not ask for that information.
  • Check the validity of embedded links by hovering over the URL to see where it leads.
  • Watch out for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Look out for generic greetings. Legitimate businesses often use a personal salutation.
  • Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action.

Should you have concerns about any suspicious scams please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) through their online reporting system or toll free at 1-888-495-8501.


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