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Better Business Bureau Canada

BBB Scam Alert – Watch out for Facebook “friends” pushing phony COVID grants

Free COVID Relief Funds? Could Be a Grant Scam (original article from the Better Business Bureau)

In tough economic times, it can be hard to turn down free money – especially if it appears to come from a friend. BBB.org/ScamTracker is receiving numerous reports that con artists are stealing information from Facebook and Instagram accounts and promoting phony COVID-19 relief grants to their network and Friends list.  

How the Scam Works

You get a Facebook Messenger chat or Instagram direct message that look like it comes from a friend, relative, community member, or another other person you trust. The message is telling you about a grant for COVID-19 relief. You “friend” may claim to have already applied and received thousands of dollars.

Scammers are either hacking social media accounts or creating separate lookalike profiles by stealing photos and personal information.  Either way, these con artists are banking that you will trust a message that appears to come from someone you know.  For example, one recent victim was contacted by someone posing as a leader in their church. “This scam was very convincing. [It looked like it came from] someone I know and trust,” they wrote. “Because of COVID-19, I’m laid off, so I would try it. [The scammer] said my name was on a list to receive this grant money. I lost $1,000.00 of my unemployment.”

While many people report being targeted through social media, that’s not the only way scammers are reaching potential victims. Other versions of this scam use phone calls and text messages.

No matter how you hear about a “grant,” there’s a major catch! To get the “grant,” you need to pay upfront first. The scammer will claim the money pays for “delivery” or “processing.” The scammer will take the money, and your grant will never materialize. 

How to spot a phony grant scam:

Be wary of your friends’ taste online. Your friend or family member may have impeccable judgment in real-life. But online, email messages, social posts, and direct messages could be from a hacked or impersonated account.

Don’t pay any money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” grant, it isn’t really free. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant you have already been awarded. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov. For information regarding Canadian grants, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Check for look-alikes.  Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.

Report scam accounts and messages to Facebook and Instagram. Alert administrators to fake profiles, compromised accounts, and spam messages by reporting them on Facebook and Instagram.

For More Information

Learn more about government scams (BBB.org/GrantScam). For advice on keeping your Facebook account secure, check out this article in Facebook’s Help Center.

If you’ve fallen victim to this kind of scam, help others avoid the same pitfall by filing a scam report atBBB.org/ScamTracker.

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Better Business Bureau Canada

BBB – Google Password Alert

The Phishing Scam is After Your Google Password – BBB Scam Alert

Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. A new scam appears to be an email from Google, informing you that someone has shared a photo album. But it’s really a phishing scheme that’s after your password.

How the Scam Works

You get an email or text message that appears to come from Google Photo. Someone is sharing an album of photos with you. To view the photos, you just need to click the link. The message looks so real! It may use a convincing URL, which has been created by Google’s goo.gl URL shortener to appear to be an official Google domain name. The message also seems to come from the email noreply-photos@google.com.

The catch? There is no photo album. It’s a phishing con. When you click the “View Photo” link, it will open in your web browser and prompt you to log into your Google account. If you enter your information, you are giving scammers your username and password. Con artists can now access your email account as well as any other accounts that use the same login information.

How to avoid a phishing scam:

Follow these tips to protect yourself from this and other online phishing scams.

Never click on links in unsolicited messages. Phishing scams direct you to websites that look official, but these sites may be infected with malware. If you don’t know and trust the person who sent you the message, don’t click on any links.

Be careful with shortened links. Con artists often use link shorteners, such as Bit.ly or Goo.gl, to disguise scam links. Be extra cautious when following one of these links because you can’t tell where it leads.

If it seems strange, it may be a scam. Be wary of any message that comes from a friend but seems out of character. (For example, an old work acquaintance who contacts you out of the blue.) It may have originated from their account, but they could be victims, too.

Don’t fall for “urgent” scams.  Scammers like to cause alarm to create urgency. You might get a message that indicates you’re in a compromising video, your password is being reset, your account is in danger of deactivation, or some other dire situation that needs immediate attention. If it seems unlikely, watch out.

For More Information

Read more about common phishing scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/PhishingScam.

If you’ve been a victim of this or another phishing scam, be sure to report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others to spot a scam before it’s too late.

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Better Business Bureau Canada

Utility Impersonation Cons

Looking to save money right now? No matter how COVID has impacted your finances, be sure to say “no” to this scam deal. This summer, BBB.org/ScamTracker has received reports of con artists impersonating internet, cable tv, or electricity company representatives. They claim to offer a great deal or rebate on your bill, but it’s really a way to trick unsuspecting customers into shelling out hundreds of dollars.
How the Scam Works
You receive an unsolicited call offering you a reduced rate or rebate on your cable tv, electricity or other recurring bill. Speaking to the “customer service representative” may be quite convincing. Many scammers event use the same hold music as big-name providers and duplicate a company’s caller menu.
When speaking with the representative, they seem very professional. The caller explains that the company is offering a special promotion. If you pay several months up front, you can receive a discounted monthly rate or free perks, like premium cable channels. In another version of the con, the caller claims that you overpaid on a recent bill and are due for a rebate.
Then, things get fishy. Instead of using the payment information your cable company already has, they ask you to purchase pre-paid debit cards to make the up-front payment. Don’t do it! If you purchase the cards and send the information to the caller, your money will be lost for good.
Tips to avoid these scams
Never make payments with prepaid debit cards or gift cards. Scammers prefer these payment methods because there is nothing you can do to get your money back. Remember, legitimate companies almost always accept checks and credit cards as the primary means of payment.
If someone shows up at your doorstep, verify their identity. If you weren’t expecting a visit, ask the person for their ID and then call your cable company to verify that they are an employee.
When in doubt, verify special deals with your utility company. If you are unsure about a promotional offer you’ve been presented with, get the customer service number from the company’s official website or your latest bill. Call the company directly to make sure the offer is real.  
For more ways to avoid utility scams, see the BBB Tip: Utility Imposter Scam. If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. By sharing your experience, you can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams. 

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Better Business Bureau Canada Uncategorized

Top Scams for 2019

The Better Business Bureau has created a report for the top 10 riskiest scams that are currently happening in Canada. To get a copy of the report for 2019, you can download it from here

Get the guide from the BBB here

The Federal Government has also published the new Little Black Book of Scams on the Competition Bureau Website for 2019, which you can download here

Get the Little Black Book of Scams here