It never takes long for the unscrupulous to attempt to profit from crises. There are emerging reports of scams regarding COVID-19, including in the GTA.
These scams will evolve over time, but some of the scams that appear to currently be operating are:
- People going door-to-door to sell COVID-19 testing kits.
- Texts/emails/phone calls from companies offering fast test results.
- Texts/emails asking the recipient to “click a link” to claim their free face mask from the Red Cross or similar organization.
- Texts/emails that the recipient is suspected to have come in contact with/be infected by COVID-19 and requests credit card information to ship medication.
- Offers to invest in stocks related to the illness.
- Various organizations soliciting on-line donations for COVID-19 related work.
Some of the best practices you can employ against these scams include:
- Only seek information from trusted sources, including the World Health Organization, Government of Canada, City of Toronto, or UJA.
- Currently only hospitals are authorized to conduct COVID-19 screening tests. Do not respond to any offers to buy COVID-19 testing kits etc. whether through text/email offers, over the phone, or at your door step. You should never be shy or embarrassed to keep your door closed and locked when unsolicited visitors knock on your door.
- Do not open unknown emails/texts, and NEVER click on any links, from unknown senders. If you do not know the sender, nor recognize the email address or phone number, delete it!
- When in doubt, research it. Before you respond to any request, especially one for money, you should confirm to the best of your ability that the request is legitimate, for example by contacting the organization on your own to verify the details. If you are being solicited at your door step, DO NOT allow anyone into your home. Excuse yourself, for example by saying you will need time to consider the offer/appeal, close and lock your door, and report the incident to police.
- Report it. If you have been targeted by any of these scams you should report it to local police. If it is an emergency call 911, otherwise you can reach police at:
- Toronto Police Service (non-emergency): 416-808-2222
- York Regional Police (non-emergency): 866-876-5423
- Once you have reported it to police please contact the Community Security Hotline (416-635-5600) so that updated and relevant information can be shared more broadly across our community.