October 26th, 2020

Scams target cash-strapped consumers


By Submitted Article on April 30, 2020.

SUBMITTED BY THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

In addition to its serious health consequences, COVID-19 is causing Canadians to worry about their financial health. Many businesses are faced with difficult decisions, like downscaling their operations to preserve the health of their employees and laying off staff.

According to a survey commissioned by the Angus Reid Institute, one in three Canadians worry they will miss rent or mortgage payments due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This result suggests that even when social distancing and self-isolation requirements are no longer necessary, many Canadians will still be recovering financially.

Unfortunately, scammers are also using this global crisis to take advantage of people, many of whom may be more vulnerable during these uncertain times. They are capitalizing on prevailing fears and anxieties about the disease to fleece victims of their money and steal their identity. Better Business Bureau (BBB) is sharing the following information on scams that could become more prevalent over the next few weeks, into months, and how you can avoid being victimized.

With so many businesses downscaling operations and closing their doors, thousands of people are now job hunting. For those seeking flexible and temporary employment, be on the lookout for employment scams which may be disguised as a great new career with the well needed flexibility, especially for job seekers with children. You may be giving away personal information or money to scammers.

– Always be wary of positions that do not require special training or licensing. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads. If the job posting is for a well-known brand, check the real company’s job page to see if the position is posted there. Look online; if the job comes up in other cities with the exact same post, it is likely a scam.

– Watch out for job offers without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring to ensure they have all the right traits for the job.

– Do not fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or big income as long as you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories.

With the federal and provincial government outlining a myriad of measures to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the finances of Canadians, look out for scammers posing as government representatives to entice consumers to give away personal details.

– Educate yourself on the terms of the financial aid by visiting the Government of Canada and or the Government of Alberta website for the latest updates and process to claim assistance.

– Be wary of unsolicited text messages or messages via social media. Remember, government agencies do not communicate through these channels.

– Be careful of unsolicited calls asking for your banking information. Scammers will cold call, asking basic questions to see if you qualify for a grant, and then ask for your banking information saying they need to collect a one-time processing fee and directly deposit your money.

– Do not pay for a “free” grant. Remember, if you have to pay to claim it, it is not free. Do not send money via wire transfer or prepaid gift cards.

For more tips and information about coronavirus: BBB.org/coronavirus.

Businesses, check out BBB.org/SmallBusiness.

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