Avoid Financial Scams during COVID-19

Financial and consumer regulatory staff within the Department of Justice and Public Safety is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and taking precautions to make sure consumers are protected.

Working closely with the Department of Finance, provincial and federal financial and consumer markets regulators, the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation, as well as regulated firms and individuals to ensure markets continue to work well for Islanders.  

Insurance

Regular conversations with insurance providers and the department are occurring to ensure they can manage any impact of COVID-19 on their operations. Firms have an obligation to treat customers fairly and consider the needs of anyone potentially affected by the pandemic.  

You should be aware that insurance coverage differs from policy to policy. If you are unsure whether you are covered for risks related to the outbreak, you should contact your provider directly. Insurance providers should be able to clearly explain any exclusions that may exist.  

If your insurance is due for renewal, this may also be a good time to contact your insurance company to discuss any potential changes in your policy, including any claims that may no longer be covered due to COVID-19

If you have an insurance policy and are experiencing financial difficulty that may affect your ability to pay your insurance premiums in a timely manner, it is important to contact your insurer without delay to discuss your terms of coverage.

Scams

During challenging times, it is common to observe an increase in predatory activity that looks to take advantage of individuals, particularly the vulnerable. Watch out for these bad actors, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. These scams take many forms and could be about insurance policies, pension transfers, high-return investment opportunities, including investments in crypto-assets and more

A major event like COVID-19 can initiate new types of scam activity. With that in mind, we are urging consumers to be extra careful and aware of scams that may appear over the coming months. Scammers are sophisticated, opportunistic and will try many things. They are also very likely to target the vulnerable, particularly during these difficult times. They will try and get personal details or money from victims in many ways.

If you suspect a scam, want to confirm if an individual or firm is licensed in PEI to sell insurance or securities, or if you have questions or concerns about an investment solicitation related to COVID 19, call 902-368-4550 or email ccs@gov.pe.ca

Beware of investments and other offers that appear to be too good be true.

Look out for these tactics

  • “Advance fee fraud” – In an attempt to exploit Islanders under short-term financial distress, scammers may ask you to hand over an upfront fee – usually between $50 and $750 – when applying for a loan or credit that you never get.
  • “Good cause scams” – Scammers may ask for an investment in good causes such as the production of sanitizer, the manufacture of personal protection equipment (PPE) or the development of new drugs to treat coronavirus while promising high returns to entice consumers.
  • “Alternative investment scams” – Citing the uncertainty around stock markets, scammers may advise you to invest or transfer existing investments into various alternative or non-standard investments.
  • “Clone firm scams” – Firms must be authorized by the Province to sell, promote, or advise on the sale of investments or insurance products.  Some scammers will claim to represent authorized firms to appear genuine.  In particular, please be aware of life insurance firms that may be cloned.
  • “Recovery scams” – Scammers may contact you claiming to be from a claims management company, insurance company, your credit card provider or another official representative from a reputable organization. They may say they can help you recuperate losses by submitting a claim for the cost of a holiday or event such as a wedding cancelled due to coronavirus. They will ask you to send them some money or your bank details.  
  • “Banking Scams” – Cold calls, emails, texts or other messaging applications such as WhatsApp stating that your bank is in trouble due to the coronavirus crisis, and pushing you to transfer your money to a new financial institution with alternative banking details.

How to protect yourself

  • Check to make sure the person you are dealing is authorized in Prince Edward Island to solicit investments and/or financial transactions.
  • Reject offers that come out of the blue.
  • Beware of social media advertising that are paid or sponsored.
  • Do not click links or open emails from senders you don't already know.
  • Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision.
  • If a firm calls you unexpectedly, take the time to confirm whether the organization is genuine and licensed to operate in Prince Edward Island.
  • Do not give out personal details (bank details, address, or existing insurance/pensions/investment details).

Banking services and access

Our regular system of banking payments services remain accessible to Islanders through the existing network of retail locations, ATMs and online portals. Many Islanders prefer to do their banking in person. It is important to respect dedicated hours that institutions have put into place for vulnerable populations.

Financial assistance and supports

In recent weeks, the federal and provincial governments have announced a range of temporary measures to support consumers facing a change in financial circumstances due to COVID-19.

Consumers who may have difficulty meeting ongoing credit obligations are encouraged to contact their lenders to discuss with them what options may be available such as increased credit or Thumbnail of fact sheet titled "Avoiding Financial Scams during COVID-19"payment deferral arrangements. However, be aware that deferring credit payments or increasing access to credit may result in increased costs in the longer term. You are encouraged to discuss options with your financial institutions that will be best for your personal situation. Ask questions to ensure you are well-informed before making a decision.

Contact:

Questions or concerns related to COVID-19 fraud or scams?

Call: 902-368-4550

Email: ccs@gov.pe.ca

Published date: 
April 19, 2020
Justice and Public Safety

General Inquiries

Consumer, Corporate and Insurance Division
1st Floor, Shaw Building (North Entrance)
105 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-4550
Fax: 902-368-5283

ccs@gov.pe.ca