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A grocery rebate scam is targeting Canadians. How to avoid getting tricked

Click to play video: 'How to avoid a grocery rebate scam targeting Canadians?'
How to avoid a grocery rebate scam targeting Canadians?
WATCH: The federal budget came out less than two weeks ago and criminals are using a so-called grocery rebate, offered by the federal government to low-income Canadians, as a way to target people. Touria Izri on how to avoid getting duped – Apr 7, 2023

Scammers are using Ottawa’s proposed grocery rebate to target unsuspecting Canadians, cybersecurity officials say.

The grocery rebate, a $2.5-billion boost to the GST rebate, was a signature item pitched by the federal government in its 2023 budget, which it tabled last month.

The government has dubbed this measure a “grocery rebate” as Canadians continue to deal with high food prices, though the GST rebate can be spent however Canadians desire.

The rebate will be delivered through a one-time payment from the Canada Revenue Agency as soon as possible following the passage of legislation, Ottawa has said. However, it now appears scammers are taking advantage of the news.

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Global News received photos of a phishing scam masquerading as the grocery rebate. People are asked to click on a text link and are told: “You received $247 for One Time GROCERY REBATE.”

Canadians need to be vigilant about a phishing scam attempting to trick them using the grocery rebate outlined by the government in Budget 2023, officials say. Sean Previl/Global News

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), its Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and relevant partners are aware of the phishing scam, a CSE spokesperson told Global News in an email.

“The Cyber Centre cautions Canadians to be aware and protect themselves from fraud and online scams, including phishing attempts,” said spokesperson Robyn Hawco.

Phishing is a common tactic that cybercriminals use to steal personal and financial information and cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated in their phishing campaigns, Hawco said.

Phishing messages usually take the form of an email, phone call or text message from a cyber criminal who is pretending to be someone they are not. Cybercrime will be the most common threat Canadians will face over the next several years, she added.

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Click to play video: 'A closer look at the federal government’s grocery rebate'
A closer look at the federal government’s grocery rebate

So what can you do to protect yourself from phishing scams like this one? The CSE and Canadian Cyber Centre are advising Canadians to:

  • Be aware of and guard against possible phishing attacks, as any data accessed may be used to make phishing attempts more credible.
  • Protect how you connect and assess the risks associated with using social media platforms and apps.
  • Monitor your personal online and banking accounts for any unauthorized charges, transactions, or sign-ins.
  • Use multi-factor authentication on your personal and banking accounts.
  • Update your passwords. Use complex passwords that are unique to every account and device and consider using passphrases, which are longer yet easier to remember.
  • Check there is locked padlock to the left of the URL. This padlock symbol can help protect your personal information.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or responding to suspicious texts.
  • Call your bank. If your bank account or credit cards are involved, you’ll want to report it, and cancel cards, right away to avoid being liable for the losses.
  • Call Canada’s main credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on your credit report:
    1. Trans Union Canada 1-866-525-0262, Québec 1-877-713-3393
    2. Equifax Canada 1-866-779-6440

Ottawa said in its budget the grocery rebate will help 11 million low-and-modest-income Canadians and families by providing eligible couples with two children with up to an extra $467 a year; single Canadians without children with up to an extra $234; and seniors with an extra $225 on average.

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With a file from Global’s Sean Previl.

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