The Ontario government says it is aware of a text message phishing scam falsely claiming it is helping individuals get their license plate renewal fee refunds.
It appears text messages asking residents to click a link to get their $120 back. The words “Service Ontario” appear at the top of the text, making it appear that the message was approved by a legitimate government source.
“Individuals should not open or click any links as this message is not authorized by Service Ontario and is a scam,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs said in a statement.
“Service Ontario will not contact you directly to provide a link for a refund. People in Ontaria will receive a refund for license plate stickers through direct mail in late March and through April. ,
The government said they were working with the Ontario Provincial Police as well as other law enforcement partners to “resolve the matter.”
Several Ontario police services have issued warnings on social media over the past 24 hours, asking residents not to click on links sent via text message or email.
“With Ontario’s recent announcement to remove the verification stickers on plates, fraudsters are trying to take advantage of the many people who will be offered refunds,” a Toronto police officer said on social media.
“If you receive a text message with a link to collect your license plate sticker refund from ‘Service Ontario’, do not click on the link. It is a scam,” Durham Police warned.
Peel Regional Police further added that anyone who wants to check whether they are eligible for a refund for their license plate renewal should visit the Service Ontario website.
Premier Doug Ford announced last week that starting March 13, most Ontario drivers will no longer have to pay to renew their driver’s license plates.
He also said that the law is retroactive to March 2020, and anyone who renews their plates in the last two years will be eligible for a refund. Residents must ensure their driver’s license and address are up to date and that any outstanding traffic tickets are paid by March 7 in order to receive a check.
The province said more than 7.5 million people would receive a refund and that drivers would be saved about $120 a year.
Anyone who receives a text or may open a link should report it to their local police or call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-795-8501.