Sadly, even in times of crisis and desperate need, fraudsters are finding ways to profit. Here is some advice produced in conjunction with fraud prevention agencies Cifas, ActionFraud and Finance UK to understand the fraud trends and scams related to Covid-19.
Scams to look out for
Ignore text messages from the government claiming to be fining you for leaving the house. There’s often a link to a fake gov.uk website where you can ‘appeal’ and enter your bank details to get the money back. These details can be used to try and access your bank account and your money.
HMRC relief scam
Fraudsters are sending text messages impersonating HMRC offering relief money to help those in need. There’s a link to a fake website to apply by entering your personal and financial details. If you receive anything like this, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health information scam
Be suspicious of unexpected emails from the NHS and the World Health Organisation claiming to offer help and advice. Don’t click links or open attachments – these may contain malware and attempt to gain your personal and financial details.
Good samaritan scams
Many of us have offered our neighbours help with grocery and pharmacy deliveries. Be careful what information you post online like in Facebook groups or Nextdoor app – fraudsters trawl online platforms for data like name, address, email, phone number, place of work, health issues, date of birth. They use these details to target or impersonate people to commit fraud.
When stock markets become volatile, many people look for more sensible or guaranteed-return investments – and many fraudsters take advantage of this. Be suspicious of investment offers that sound too good to be true – even green or ethical investments. Check the investment service provider is regulated on the FCA register and confirm the company exists on Companies House. Before transferring any money, call the organisation on the number published on the FCA register to ensure the investment is legitimate.