Rights & Money

Beware of the COVID-19 Texting Scam

Canadians are receiving texts claiming to offer financial relief. Don’t click on the link!

 By Erika Morris

Photo: iStock/Makoto Hara.

If you receive a text message urging you to click on a link to receive money from the federal government, don’t click it. Canadians have been receiving texts from scammers pretending to be the federal government offering coronavirus relief money.

The fraudsters are taking advantage of the federal government’s recent $107 billion package intended to help Canadians through the pandemic-induced economic crisis; The Canada Emergency Response Benefit program offers income support to Canadians who become sick, have to quarantine, or lose their jobs of about $2,000 a month for up to four months.

The text messages consist of this message: “Alert: The emergency response benefit of Canada relief fund has sent you a deposit for $X” and include a link ending in “.xyz” that gives the impression that clicking it will get you a deposit from the “emergency response benefit fund of Canada.” The link leads to a convincing landing page with the Government of Canada’s banner; users are then asked for personal information such as the name of their financial institutions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference that the Canadian government’s website is the best place to get information relating to COVID-19 emergency relief measures. The portal to access the application forms for the emergency response benefit is set to open on the federal website in early April. Payments would begin two weeks later. Though the federal government recently sent text messages with information for Canadians stuck abroad, Trudeau stressed the government would not be using text messages to contact people about the benefits.

The fund is only one part of the federal government’s series of relief measures. Others include a temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support; $305 million was set aside to address immediate needs in Indigenous communities, and the homeless care program’s budget doubled. Income tax filing and student-loan payment deadlines were extended.