A call claiming your SIN is no good because of the COVID-19 outbreak is an obvious fraud, but there is concern some may still be fooled. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

No, your social insurance number is not cancelled because of COVID-19

A phone scam surfaces in the Lower Mainland

A call claiming your social insurance number (SIN) is no good because of the COVID-19 crisis is making the rounds of Langley and other Lower Mainland communities.

It was an obvious con so far as New Westminster resident Lisa Woo was concerned, who got the call about a week ago.

“It was a computer voice,” Woo related.

“It said my social insurance number is suspended and I need to respond to them by pressing ‘1’.”

If she didn’t, the voice warned all services from the government would be suspended, “or will be cancelled forever.”

Woo hung up.

Less than an hour later, the phone rang again, with another message, this time in Mandarin.

Woo doesn’t speak the language, but she suspected it was a follow-up to the English version, and aimed at her because she has a Chinese surname.

The number on her call display reached a “not available” message when contacted.

“They’re taking advantage of people’s fear,” Woo told the Langley Advance Times.

While it seemed to be a pretty obvious scam to her, she is concerned that with the anxiety being created by COVID-19, “I think people might not be thinking clearly.”

READ ALSO: Fake tax collector scam resurfaces in Langley

Scams that ask people to press “1” will connect the person who presses it with a con artist, posing as a government official, who will take their personal information down to commit identity theft.

There are several different scams currently trying to use the coronavirus outbreak to defraud people.

READ MORE: Grande trouble: BBB warns of bogus COVID-19 Starbucks gift card scam

In the Lower Mainland, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning about a COVID-19-related “phishing” scam involving false Starbucks gift cards.

Scammers impersonate Starbucks by blasting mass emails, apologizing for store closures due to social distancing requirements, and offering a virtual gift card via a link in the email. The link takes the potential victims to a page where they are directed to fill out their personal information.

Other reported scams include; an Android phone app that claims to provide real-time virus-tracking and information, but in fact is ransomware called ‘CovidLock’ that blocks access to a user’s phone unless they pay to have it unlocked; and emails that claim to provide information on safety measures to avoid infection that get the recipient to click on an embedded link to visit a site that asks them to provide personal information.

Dozens of malicious websites have been set up with names like “covid survivor,” covid-solidarity” and “covid testing.”



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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