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Better Business Bureau

BBB Alert – Watch Out for Phony COVID Testing Sites

This winter’s spike in COVID-19 cases has more people than ever looking for tests. This has given rise to a new con: phony websites and fake in-person testing sites used to collect personal and insurance information. 
How the scam worksYou search online for a COVID-19 test in your area. Several websites appear, and you choose a testing clinic affiliated with a local pharmacy or a pop-up run by a local group.

In one version of this scam, you show up at the testing site. Before you can get a test, the person working there requires you to fill out a form with personal information and takes a picture of your driver’s license and medical insurance cards. Then, they do a swab and promise test results within a short time. Unfortunately, the test is a fake and the results never arrive. It was an excuse to get your information.

In another version of this con, you complete an online appointment form with your personal, insurance, and medical information. You may also pay a small fee. But when you show up for your appointment, the pharmacy has no record of your appointment. Again, the phony form was a way of phishing for personal information.

One victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker this experience at a phony testing site: “Not until I got home did I realize I provided WAY too much personal information… They used a swab of saliva and said I would be notified by email within 24 hours. It has now been 2 weeks no results, and they are still there doing covid tests.”
How to avoid COVID-19 testing scams:Understand the COVID-19 testing options in your area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds consumers that no-cost COVID-19 tests are available to everyone in the U.S. at health centers and select pharmacies. If someone insists you pay for a test, especially if they claim it will cost you hundreds of dollars, it’s a scam.Only get tested at authorized testing sites or health centers. Visit your statetriballocal, or territorial health department’s website to find an authorized testing site in your area. In Canada, get information about testing for your province.  Watch out for lookalike websites. Scammers have become adept at creating websites that look just like websites belonging to well-known, trusted businesses. Before entering your personal information to an online form, make sure the website you are visiting is secure and there are no misspellings or unfamiliar names in the URL bar.Be wary of unsolicited callers and messages. No legitimate company or health clinic will call, text, or email you without your permission. If you get an unsolicited message from someone, it’s best not to give the caller or sender any personal details before confirming it’s from a legitimate source.
For more informationRead about other popular COVID-19 scams and additional testing scams. Also, learn about other ways scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic with vaccine scams and government agency impostors.If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. 
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Better Business Bureau

BBB Alert -This “Quick” Favor is Really a Clever Scam

If a friend asks for a favor, you do it, no questions asked. Right? Time to rethink that policy. In this new con, a scammer poses as a friend asking for a simple favor. The email is so convincing that BBB staff almost fell for it! 
How the scam worksYou get an email that appears to be from a friend or family member. The message looks harmless and casual—like something a friend might really write. For example, one version reads: “Hi, how are things going with you? Are you busy? I need a quick favor.” The message even ends with “Sent from my iPhone.”  

Concerned about your friend, you reply and ask for more details. The “friend” quickly responds that they are trying to buy a gift card for their niece’s birthday. However, they are traveling and having trouble purchasing the card online. “Could you get it from any local grocery store around you?” reads the email. “I’ll pay you back as soon as I am back.”  

The request sounds reasonable. But if you do buy the gift card, your “friend” will ask you share the card’s PIN and/or send a photo of the back of the card. Unfortunately, by doing this you are essentially handing money to the scammer. It’s nearly impossible to get the money back because gift cards do not have the same protections as credit or debit cards.
How to avoid this scam:Reach out to your friend directly. If you get an unusual request, call or text your friend to confirm their story. No matter how harmless the story sounds, always double-check before sending someone money.Use gift cards wisely. Never do business with anyone who insists on payment with gift cards. Remember, providing the numbers from the back of a gift card is just like sending cash.
For more informationLearn more about how scammers use gift cards in this BBB study on gift cards and this tip about gift cons. Also, read more about emergency scams and impostor scams.If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. 
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Better Business Bureau Canada

BBB Scam – Watch out for Text Messages with Tempting Offers

Everyone loves a deal – including scammers. Con artists often offer too good to be true discounts in the hope that price-conscious consumers will jump on these “deals” without doing their research. Recently, BBB Scam Tracker has seen numerous reports of scammers impersonating well-known companies and offering COVID-19 themed discounts.  

How the Scam Works: 
You receive a text message from a large, reputable company. The message claims that, due to the pandemic, the company would like to help people out by offering them an amazing deal. These range from free or discounted services to gift cards and cash.

For example, consumers reported receiving the following text messages using this ploy:“COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon”“Due to the pandemic, Hulu is giving everyone a free 1-year subscription to help you stay at home. Get yours here [link].”Of course, these messages don’t really originate with that company. They come from impersonators who hope to steal your personal information. If you click the link, you may be prompted to log into a lookalike website that scammers use to get hold of your login ID and password. With that information, scammers can access your accounts and even make purchases using your saved payment methods.

While the latest BBB Scam Tracker reports mention Hulu, Netflix, and Verizon, watch out for scammers impersonating other companies too. If one name stops being effective, they’ll quickly switch to another company.

How to avoid text message scams:

Treat messages from unknown senders with caution. If you receive a message from a number you don’t recognize, be careful. Many companies engage in SMS marketing, but keep in mind that consumers must opt in to receive messages. If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam.

Don’t click on links from strangers. Scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead in the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous website, or you could download malware onto your device.

Confirm deals directly with the company before you accept. If you are really hoping the deal is legitimate, go to the company’s official website and send them an email, or call to inquire. The company can let you know if the deal is real or not.

Install antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices. This kind of scam can come from text messages or emails, so make sure all your electronics are protected. Antivirus software can scan for malware and alert you before you open a malicious website link.

For More InformationLearn more about this kind of scam by reading the BBB Tip on phishing scams. Read about a similar con that offers you a discount on your utility bills.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams
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Better Business Bureau Canada

BBB Scam – Placing a Takeout Order? Check the URL First

The COVID-19 pandemic has made ordering takeout more popular than ever. Some restaurants have even set up their own websites to avoid the fees and challenges that come with food delivery apps, like DoorDash or GrubHub. As always, scammers are quick to pick up on a trend. Watch out for fake food ordering websites that scam consumers out of their money and personal information.

How the Scam Works

You search for your favorite restaurant’s website to see if they offer delivery and a way to order online. Near the top of the search results, you find a website that looks like it belongs to the restaurant. Or you may find a third-party website that looks very professional and similar to popular services like DoorDash or GrubHub.

You click on the link, select your food, and enter your credit card information to pay. Charges appear on your account, but the food never arrives. When you call the restaurant to see what’s happened, they are unaware of your order. The website was a fake, and now the scammers have your credit card information, address, and other personal details.

Some consumers reported to BBB Scam Tracker accidentally ordering from fake websites called “Order Hero” or “Order Ventures.” But look out for other variations. Scammers often change their name and continue their tricks under a different fake identity.
Avoid scams when ordering takeout:

Only order from websites you know and trust. Even if you think you are on a website you know, double check the URL before you place your order.
When in doubt, confirm with the restaurant. The first time you order directly from a restaurant’s website, call the restaurant to confirm that they have online ordering and you are on the correct URL.
Use your credit card. When you pay with your credit card, you can dispute any unauthorized charges. The same may not be true if you use your debit card or if you give a company your banking information, such as your account number and your bank’s routing number.
Take action if you think you’ve ordered on a fake site. If you suspect you entered your credit card information to a fraudulent website, cancel your card right away and request a new one. Scammers might wait a few weeks or months before they start using the card numbers you gave them access to.
For More InformationTo learn more ways to protect yourself from online scams, read the BBB’s tip for shopping online.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams
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British Columbia RCMP

Scammers spoofing RCMP’s telephone number

From the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is warning the general public of fraudulent telephone calls claiming to originate from the RCMP detachment in London, Ontario.

The RCMP was notified that the London detachment’s phone number was “spoofed” and used by the callers to coerce the victims into providing personal information such as their Social Insurance Number (SIN). These callers are also telling some of the victims that they are under investigation by the RCMP and that they will be arrested, unless they transfer large amounts of money within the next few hours.

Spoofing occurs when a caller identification (caller ID) or call display are manipulated to show trusted phone numbers. This tricks people into answering the call and believing they are speaking with a trusted source. Do not use call display as a way to authenticate who is calling. Fraudsters may use a variety of other telephone scam tactics as well. The scams are designed to create anxiety so that victims respond by sending money quickly in order to fix the problem.

If you receive unsolicited calls that are coercive or threatening and claiming to be police or any other government department, don’t panic don’t react, hang up. Police services in Canada including the RCMP do not contact individuals via email or telephone for the purpose of collecting fines or money. Don’t give out personal information on unsolicited calls such as your name, address, date of birth, SIN or credit card information.

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Better Business Bureau Canada

BBB Scam – Prime Day is coming!

Prime Day is Coming! Watch For Shopping Scams   This year, Amazon isn’t the only retailer rolling out discounts for Prime Day (June 21-22, 2021). Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s, just to name a few, are running competing sales. But more deals mean more chances for scammers to capitalize on the buzz and trick shoppers. Be wary of phishing scams, misleading advertisements, and lookalike websites.  

Scams to look out for:
Phishing scams that appear to come from a popular retailer. Phishing scams increase during busy shopping times, such as Prime Day or Black Friday. When you are making a lot of purchases, it’s easy to lose track of exactly what you bought and where you shopped. That makes you more likely to fall for a phishing scam posing as a big name store. 

Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls. These messages may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. One recent phishing con claims to be Amazon calling to fix an issue with your account. This a ruse meant to get your credit card information, account login details, or remote access to your computer.

Beware of false advertising and phony websites. When searching online or browsing social media, watch out for ads that point to scam websites. Con artists often create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. But when you look more closely at the URL, you’ll noticed that the domain name is slightly different (i.e., Instead of Popularstore.com, the URL might be PopvlarStore.comor PopularStoreOnline.com).

Always make sure websites use the correct spelling of a business name and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers. Also, use common sense when evaluating deals. If a company claims to be selling the hottest item of the year at a super low price, it’s probably a con.
Protect yourself from Prime Day scams:Beware of fake lookalike websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information, and read online reviews.Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Scammers often steal photos off other websites, so don’t believe what you see.  Make sure the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “http.” It is NOT secure.Be careful purchasing sought-after products. If something is sold out everywhere, don’t be tempted by a seemingly great deal. Scammers often trick shoppers by offering the most popular products at low prices. Here’s one example involving game consoles.Pay with a credit card. It’s always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Be very wary of any retailer that asks you to pay by digital wallet apps, prepaid money cards, or other non-traditional payment methods. 
For More InformationLearn more about avoiding scam social media ads when shopping online. Read about scammers’ tracking code trick.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams
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Canada Canada Revenue Agency

Is the CRA really contacting you?

From the Canada Revenue Agency

Now that you’ve filed your 2020 income tax and benefit return, it’s possible that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) contacts you to discuss your tax and benefit situation. However, you should be aware of scammers pretending to be CRA employees. They often contact Canadians to try to trick them into making payments, and may try to reach you by telephone. To protect yourself from scams, it’s important to know when and how the CRA might contact you.

Here is some information on how to tell if you’ve been contacted by the CRA, and what to do if you are:

We may review your tax return 

One reason we may contact you is if we are reviewing your income tax and benefit return. You may receive a letter or phone call telling you your income tax and benefit return is being reviewed. If you’re registered for email notifications, we will send you an email telling you your letter is available in My Account. In most cases it’s simply a routine check. It’s important that you reply and send all of the information requested as soon as possible. This will help us review your file quickly and easily.

If you can’t get the documents we’re asking for or if you need more time to reply, it’s important that you call the number in your letter. We can give you more time to respond if you need it, and we can help you if you have any questions. If you don’t reply, your claim may be disallowed and you could have a balance owing.

Make sure the caller is a CRA employee and not a scammer

Legitimate CRA employees who contact Canadians will identify themselves as CRA agents and provide their name and a telephone number. You should make sure the caller is a CRA employee before providing any information on the phone. This will protect you from giving money or personal information to a scammer. 

This is how you can make sure the caller is from the CRA:

  1. Tell the caller you would like to first verify their identity
  2. Ask for, and make a note of their:
    • name
    • phone number
    • office location
  3. Check that the call you received was legitimate by contacting the CRA at the number that you look up yourself on the CRA website before you provide any information to the caller. 
  4. Call the CRA employee back to discuss the reason for the call.

When to be suspicious

Red flags that suggest the person contacting you is a scammer include (but are not limited to):

  • The inability to provide you with proof of working for the CRA, such as name and an office location.
  • The caller is pressuring you to act now.
  • The caller is asking you to pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency or some other unusual manner.
  • The caller is asking for information you would not include on your tax return or that is not related to money you owe the CRA, such as a credit card number.
  • The caller is recommending that you apply for benefits. Canadians can apply for benefits directly on Government of Canada websites or by phone. Do not provide information to callers offering to apply for benefits on your behalf!

For more tips and helpful information, visit canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.

Want to report a potential scam?

To report a scam, visit antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501. If you think you may be the victim of fraud or you unknowingly provided personal or financial information, contact your local police service, financial institution, and credit reporting agencies.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of fraud or have been tricked into providing personal or financial information should report it by following the CRA’s directive on the Government of Canada website at canada.ca/taxes-fraud-prevention.

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Better Business Bureau Canada

BBB Scam Alert – Scammers Trick Travelers with Lookalike Websites

With the COVID-19 vaccine effort ramping up, people are starting to plan future vacations and work travel. For many, this preparation involves renewing their enrollment in Trusted Traveler programs, such as TSA precheck or Global Entry in the United States and NEXUS in Canada. Scammers are on to this trend! According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, con artists are creating lookalike websites in an attempt to trick you out of personal information and money.

How the Scam Works
You do a web search for one of the programs above that are designed to help speed known travelers through airport security. Your web browser displays a list of results. The official website likely appears high up on the list. But also included are websites designed to look just like the official one.

When you click on the website, you find a third-party company that either impersonates the government department or offers to do all the paperwork for you. These sites may charge you the cost of the application fee, plus a hefty service fee to cover the cost of their “help.” In addition, you’ll be asked to fill out forms with sensitive, personal information including your full name, passport number and home address.

Even if you pay up, the company may never submit your application form through the correct channels.  You will have lost money and shared your personal information with scammers.
How to avoid lookalike website scams:

Double check the URL before you enter personal and payment information. Always double check that you are on the right website and that the link is secure. Secure links start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase page. In the United States, all government websites end in “.gov.” In Canada, government agency websites are under gc.ca.

Make online purchases with your credit card. Fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back the personal information you may have shared. 
For More InformationTo learn more about protecting yourself from scams, read up on lookalike websites and see the BBB article, “10 Steps to Avoid Scams.” Also, this BBB tip has advice for planning travel during the pandemic.

If you have been the victim of a phony website scam, help others avoid falling prey to similar scams by reporting your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

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Better Business Bureau

BBB Scam Alert: A COVID-19 vaccine is on the way. So are the scams.

With United States and Canada close to approving a COVID-19 vaccine, government officials expect scams to emerge as distribution begins. Watch out for everything from phony treatments to phishing messages.

What to Expect from Scammers: 

Government officials have already been cracking down on phony COVID testing kits and treatments. Now, they are ramping up efforts to prevent the sale of fake vaccines.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working with the drug companies developing the vaccines to stop the sale and distribution of phony versions. Also, the Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters to several companies claiming they had a product to cure or prevent the virus. 

Selling fake vaccines and other treatments is likely only one of many ways scammers will try to cash in on the vaccine release. Watch out for phishing messages attempting to trick you into sharing your passwords and personal information. Con artists have already impersonated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in phishing emails that claim to have news about the disease. BBB has also seen an increase in scams using robocalls to impersonate government officials.


How to Spot a Coronavirus Vaccine Con: 

  • Research carefully: Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Double check any information about the vaccine with official news sources. And be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.
  • Check with your doctor:  If you want a vaccine early, reach out to your healthcare provider about your options. If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information
  • Ignore calls for immediate action. While you may want to be first in line for the vaccine, don’t let that sense of urgency cloud your judgment. Scammers try to get you to act before you think. Don’t fall for it.
  • Think the link may be real? Double check the URL.Scammers often buy official-looking URLs to use in their cons. Be careful that the link is really what it pretends to be. If the message alleges to come from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States) or .ca (for Canada). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website.

You can view the original article from the BBB by clicking on the link below.

https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/23475-bbb-scam-alert-a-covid-vaccine-is-on-the-way-so-are-the-scams

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Better Business Bureau

BBB Scam Alert – Watch Out For These “Money Flipping” Cons

Want to turn $500 into $10,000 with very little effort?  Of course, you do! Scammers are taking advantage of people’s get-rich-quick dreams by promoting “money flipping” scams on social media, and BBB is seeing dozens of reports each month about these cons.

How the Scam Works:

You see a photo of a pile cash on social media. In the caption, the user brags about having “flipped” a couple hundred dollars into thousands. Want to do it, too? It’s easy. Just message the account holder. The “investor” will ask you to send money – typically $300 to $800 –  through Cash App or another digital wallet service. Then, they “invest” your money in the stock market where it multiples in a few days.

Sounds great, right? Here’s the catch. When you try to get your money back, the scammer claims that Cash App charges a fee to return it. In other cases, the con artist alleges that you first need to pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Some victims report sending thousands of dollars in phony fees. Every dollar you pay for money flipping – from the initial “investment” to the alleged taxes – is going straight into the scammer’s pocket. You won’t see any of your money again.   

Cash App and its parent company Square are aware that scammers are using its platform in this way and they have communicated with customers who have been impacted by certain scams. They recommend that any customer in need of additional assistance contact their support team cash.app/help.

Tips to Avoid Money Flipping Scams:   

  • Tell a real Cash App giveaway from a scam. Since 2017, Cash App has been running weekly giveaways under the hashtag #CashAppFriday. The company partners with businesses and celebrities, who ask users to retweet or comment on their social posts in hopes of being selected for a cash prize. Scammers often use similar language and pretend like they are part of an official giveaway. Make sure a giveaway is real before you respond. 
  • Search online. Before contacting the potential scammer, do a web search of their username or phone number. If it’s a scam, chances are that other victims have posted complaints and information online.
  • Be very wary of buzz words. Certain phrases should raise a red flag. Don’t believe anything that is “guaranteed” to do well, or that offers low or no risk with a high return. Anyone who claims to be able to turn a small investment into piles of cash in mere minutes is a scam artist.
  • Treat Cash App like cash. Once you send money though Cash App, you may not be able to get that money back. It’s now scammers payment method of choice, so be careful.

You can view the original article from the BBB by clicking on the link below.

https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/23322-bbb-scam-alert-this-get-rich-quick-con-promises-fast-money-on-cashapp