The Seven COVID-19 Related Scams Homeowners Should Avoid
Tuesday Jul 14th, 2020
Many homeowners are feeling emotionally and financially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, fraudsters have been using this opportunity to take advantage of their anxieties, which has led to a growing number of pandemic – related scams. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, $1.2 million has already been lost to COVID-19 fraud between March 6 and May 1. Protect yourself by becoming familiar with scams targeting homeowners.
- Duct Cleaning Companies That Offer “Special Air Filters”
With so many Canadians concerned with keeping the virus out of their homes, fraudsters have been using this opportunity to profit from people’s anxieties. There have been reports of fraudsters selling duct-cleaning services or special air filters to trap COVID-19, which are not proven to be effective.
- Moving Companies That Price Gouge
The Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC warned residents about moving companies that are taking on extra fees to their usual moving costs. Homeowners who are moving should do their due diligence to ensure they’re not paying extra fees. They should also avoid working with companies that do not have COVID-19 safety measures in place.
- Fake Utility Companies That Threaten to Disconnect Your Power
As home energy usage goes up, there have been reports of fraudsters posing as hydro and electrical power companies. They threaten to disconnect homeowners’ power if they do not send payment immediately. Any kind of high-pressure sales tactic should raise alarm bells.
- Salespeople Who Sell decontaminations Products and Services
Door-to-door salespeople have been visiting people’s homes to sell disinfectant products and other household decontamination services. Take extra precautions whenever a salesperson shows up to your doorstep. Tell them you are not interested and shut the door.
- Fake Health Reps Selling Lists of Infected Neighbours
There are also fraudsters out there who claim they are representing the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By aligning themselves with reputable organizations, their goal is to convince people to purchase fake lists of people in their neighbourhood who are infected with COVID-19.
- Predatory Financial Advisers Offering Loans and Investments Advice
There have been reports of financial fraud occurring during the pandemic as Canadian struggle to pay their mortgage and bills. Avoid unsolicited advice from alleged financial advisors who pressure you to purchase the “hot new stock” or signup for a loan to help you get through the pandemic.
- Short-Term Renters Who Pretend To Have COVID-19 For Free Stays
Homeowners who own short-term rental properties should be wary of renters who claim to be suffering from severe symptoms related to COVID-19. An advisory was issued in British Columbia after police arrested two individuals in Victoria in connection with an alleged Airbnb scam where they pretend to have the virus so that the owner was obligated to let them stay for free.
If you think you may be the target of a scam, don’t be afraid to say no, hang up the phone, shut the door, or ask for identification. If you’re not sure, you should verify the organization before handing over any payment or personal information. In general, be wary of unsolicited calls, emails, and text messages that tell you they need urgent action or payment.