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Warning about scam where callers pose as Toronto Public Health staff
Published Friday, May 1, 2020 5:24PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 4, 2020 8:07AM EDT
Toronto’s top doctor is warning residents about callers pretending to be staff members of Toronto Public Health and asking for financial information.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said Friday she has received reports of people calling residents and falsely claiming to be part of her staff.
“In one instance that I just heard of, the individual was asked to provide their banking information and their social insurance number,” de Villa said.
“My team would never ask you for this information because it is not relevant to our work.”
De Villa said Torontonians should not share any personal or financial information to these callers and should immediately report them to Toronto police.
Toronto Public Health only contacts a resident to do a follow-up on COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, she said.
“We would only ask you for information to confirm your identity and questions related to your health,” de Villa said.
Toronto police see an increase in COVID-19 scams
Toronto police said Tuesday they have seen an increase in COVID-19-related scams, especially online.
“We’re seeing an increase in phishing scams, both email and text messaging aimed at stealing users’ credentials and banking information,” said Det. Sgt. John Menard of Toronto Police Cyber Operations – Intelligence Services.
With COVID-19, Menard said, police are seeing a lot of phishing attempts involving fake COVID remote access logins for businesses and fake employment insurance payment transfers.
He said some people are getting CERB notices through text messages with a suspicious link attached to it.
“These are all aimed at stealing your financial information,” Menard said.
He said police are also getting reports of people trying to sell fake test kits and hand sanitizers, as well as people offering to shop for and deliver groceries.
As more people are staying home, police are seeing “sign-on to verify” scams involving streaming service, Menard said.
“If you didn’t initiate the contact and you don’t know who it is, you can double-check. It really comes down to due diligence,” Menard said.
“Never provide your payment, credit card username or any information online unless you know who you’re dealing with. If you get a request from a loved one to send money, especially during these times, call them first to make sure that they’ve actually made the request.”
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of any fraud is encouraged to contact police at 416-808-2222 or Crime Stoppers.
Toronto police have released a list of online scams linked to COVID-19. These include:
-- Text messages requesting banking 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)
-- Emails with fraudulent or corrupt links on topics such as:
- “Delivery details” for those most likely to be using delivery services
- “Special offers” for COVID-19-related products/services
-- Websites claiming:
- Sales of COVID-19-related products and services, such as testing kits, cleaning products or remedies
- Information from “health officials,” requesting information and/or links to other sites
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also has a list of known COVID-19 scams on its website.