Toronto Police Warn of COVID Scams Targeting Residents Working From Home

Toronto Police
Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

As we enter week seven of stay-at-home orders the Toronto Police are warning of a spike in COVID-19-related scams targeting those working from home.

This includes residents receiving text messages demanding banking information to receive payment for fines related to leaving the house too many times in a day.

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“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in phishing scams, both email and text messaging aimed at stealing users credentials and banking information,” says Intelligence Services Cyber Operations Detective/Sgt. John Menard. “Because it’s COVID-related we’re seeing a lot of fake remote login access for businesses, employment insurance payment transfers.

These scams include email and text messages requesting personal bank information for:

  • Processing government payments for Emergency Benefits or Canada Revenue Agency
  • Fines for leaving the house too many times in a day
  • Demands for immediate payment with threats of cancelled services (i.e. streaming sites)

Menard advises anyone who has received a message about one of these issues to reach out to their financial institutions or telecommunications and streaming service companies directly if they are unsure about an email or text message they have received.

Residents are also being warned of online scams about fraudulent or corrupt links on topics such as ‘delivery details’ for those most likely to be using delivery services and ‘special offers’ for COVID-19-related products/services.

Investigators say they are also aware of fraudulent COVID-19 websites claiming to sell products and services, such as testing kits, cleaning products or remedies and websites advertising information from “health officials” requesting information and/or links to other sites.

Additionally, investigators are warning of various telephone or door-to-door scams including offers to shop for and deliver groceries – these often include a request for credit card information, as well as sales of COVID-19-related products and services.

With no set date in place for when things will start to return to normal, residents will be staying at home for a further while longer. Investigators are reminding residents to stay safe by doing the following:

  • Do not click on random links
  • Do not provide your personal information – including banking information
  • Do not install unknown applications, even if you’re asked to via email/text/etc.
  • Use two-factor authentication for online payments
  • Do not use links sent via email/text to access online accounts
  • Set up strong passwords for new or existing online accounts
  • Back up your work regularly and work offline, when possible
  • Use software to protect yourself from malware and viruses
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