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Warning: watch out for fraudsters trying to profit from COVID-19 fears

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained Parliament could return temporarily in order to pass emergency measures to support Canadians and businesses amid the growing outbreak. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issues an alert about fraudsters

Best place for COVID-19 information is the federal government's website: prime minister

The government will not send emails, text messages offering to deposit COVID-19 benefits for Canadians

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians on Thursday about a text scam popping up on phones.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issued an alert about fraudsters trying to profit from people’s fears, uncertainties and misinformation by posing as government departments and sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails, going after sensitive personal and financial details.

Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 briefing that the best place to get reliable information on everything Ottawa is doing in response to the spread of COVID-19 is the federal government’s website.

The government will not send emails or text messages offering to deposit any COVID-19 benefits for Canadians.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, fraudsters are posing as:

  • 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 your power for non-payment;
  • centres for disease control and prevention or the World Health Organization, offering fake lists for sale of COVID-19 infected people in your neighbourhood;
  • Public Health Agency of Canada giving false results saying you have been tested positive for COVID-19, tricking you into confirming your health card and credit card numbers for a prescription;
  • Red Cross and other known charities offering free medical products (e.g. masks) for a donation;
  • government departments sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails, tricking you into opening malicious attachments tricking you to reveal sensitive personal and financial details;
  • financial advisors pressuring people to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease, offering financial aid and/or loans to help you get through the shut downs;
  • door-to-door sales people selling household decontamination services;
  • private companies offering fast COVID-19 tests for sale – only health care providers can perform the tests, and no other tests are genuine or guaranteed to provide accurate results;
  • selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease, such as unapproved drugs threaten public health and violate federal laws.