Ten Covid-19 scams to be on high alert for

by Property 118

10:51 AM, 29th July 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Ten Covid-19 scams to be on high alert for

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Ten Covid-19 scams to be on high alert for

Using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity, fraudsters are using sophisticated methods to callously exploit people, with many concerned about their financial situation and the state of the economy. To coincide with the launch of its new animation urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, UK Finance today reveals ten Covid-19 and lockdown scams which criminals are using to target people to get them to part with their money.

Some scams manipulate innocent victims, urging people to invest and “take advantage of the financial downturn”. Others impersonate well-known subscription services to get people to part with their cash and personal information. Criminals are even posing as representatives from the NHS Test and Trace service in an effort to trick people into giving away their personal details.

To remind people that criminals are experts at impersonating trusted organisations, UK Finance has launched a new animation video urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. Consumers are reminded to always take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information in case it’s a scam.

The ten scams to be on the lookout for and how to spot them:

Covid-19 financial support scams

  1. Criminals have sent fake government emails designed to look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information from victims.
  2. Fraudsters have also been sending scam emails which offer access to ‘Covid-19 relief funds’ encouraging victims to fill in a form with their personal information.
  3. Criminals have been targeting people with official-looking emails offering a ‘council tax reduction’. These emails, which use government branding, contain links which lead to a fake government website which is used to access personal and financial information.
  4. Fraudsters are also preying on benefit recipients, offering to help apply for Universal Credit, while taking some of the payment as an advance for their “services”.

Health scams

  1. One of the most shocking scams that has appeared during the pandemic has involved using the NHS Test and Trace service. Criminals are preying on an anxious public by sending phishing emails and links claiming that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19. These lead to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or infect devices with malware.
  2. Victims are also being targeted by fake adverts for Covid-related products such as hand sanitizer and face masks which do not exist.

Lockdown scams

  1. Criminals are sending fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months of free TV license because of the coronavirus pandemic. Victims are told there has been a problem with their direct debit and are asked to click on a link that takes them to a fake website used to steal personal and financial information.
  2. Amid a rise in the use of online TV subscription services during the lockdown, customers have been targeted by criminals sending convincing emails asking them to update their payment details by clicking on a link which is then used to steal credit card information.
  3. Fraudsters are also exploiting those using online dating websites by creating fake profiles on social media sites used to manipulate victims into handing over their money. Often criminals will use the identities of real people to strike up relationships with their targets.
  4. Criminals are using social media websites to advertise fake investment opportunities, encouraging victims to “take advantage of the financial downturn”. Bitcoin platforms are using emails and adverts on social media platforms to encourage unsuspecting victims to put money into fake investment companies using fake websites.

The banking and finance sector is working with the government and law enforcement to help identify scams and prevent people becoming victims of fraud. The industry is also encouraging everyone to remain vigilant and to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and to Stop, Challenge and Protect when they receive any messages out of the blue:

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

In order to spot a Covid-19 scam, people should be on high alert if:

  • The website address is inconsistent with that of the legitimate organisation
  • The phone call, text or emails asks for financial information such as PIN, passwords
  • You receive a call or email out of the blue with an urgent request for your personal or financial information, or to make an immediate payment
  • You’re offered a heavily discounted or considerably cheaper product compared to the original price
  • There are spelling and grammar mistakes, or inconsistencies in the story you’re given

Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, Katy Worobec, said: “During this pandemic we have seen criminals using sophisticated methods to callously exploit people’s financial concerns, impersonating trusted organisations like the NHS or HMRC, to trick them into giving away their money or information.

“The banking and finance industry is tackling fraud on every front, investing millions in advance technology to protect customers and working closely with the government and law enforcement to stop the criminal gangs responsible and neutralise the threat.

“We would always urge people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep their  money and personal information safe from fraudsters.”



Comments

Dennis Leverett

12:29 PM, 30th July 2020
About 2 weeks ago

I've just had a Customs & Excise one by recorded telephone message saying "a warrant has been issued against me for outstanding payment" or similar and to press 1 to be connected to an advisor to discuss it. I've just paid my VAT bill so knew it to be a scam plus a recognisable accent of its origin.

Mike

13:11 PM, 30th July 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Great! Did anyone send me a surprise gift of a Petrol Scooter?
Just had an email from Hermes and they are going to deliver me your kind gift between 1 pm and 5 pm, Thanks, I am looking forward to that.
There is a link I can click to find out more about it and also there is a tracking number, the email looks its from genuine Hermes Delivery service,
email is from "donotreply@myhermes.co.uk"
It has my name on it and my address on it, so how anybody can get to my details is beyond me when we have all this crap about Data Protection
This is my honest opinion, they might even have got my name and address from the Data Protect register itself........so much for data protection.
Crime has gone up many fold because of it , because of this stupid organisation called ICO with its GDPR and public register , because of it, I cannot report fraud for or on behalf of the victims, almost all , organisations, even hospitals, doctors, people requiring information about their loved ones, cannot seek any information for others, because of GDPR, there are many elderly, people who don't know how to go online, or seek help, and have asked me many times to sort out issues for them, it could be issues like high utility bills, unknown charges on their bank statements, council tax, can be literally anything, but you just cannot take up any enquiry with any organisations on behalf of someone who knows you and close to you even when you have revealed to these organisations that you are trying to help a victim, and you have given them your own details and the reason why you want to help the victim, you have given your own name and address and telephone number o help many elderly people in my neighborhood, who asked me to take up an issue with their his banks, or utility companies, as English is not their first language, and tried to discuss or resolve any issues or other problem they were having, in one example where a scammer had set up DD in his name for a Sky subscription, neither Sky would cancel the subscription nor would his bank cancel the DD, all because I was trying to report a fraud, but Data Protection rules meant I could not act for someone who could not act for themselves unless they first came to the phone and authorise me to represent them, but it was not possible for the person to come over due to his disability.
I had some idea as the elderly person lived in a shared accommodation and someone else had set up DD in his name having sneaked in his room and got his bank details like account number, sort code, and obviously the address is simple to guess as they all lived at that address and intercept his post and Sky viewing card.
Half the crime we see now online is committed because many people do not understand and when they ask others to sort things out for them, then data Protection kicks in helping scammers continue to scam others.
Data Protection register itself a major breach of data, as its public register reveals dat of others who have registered with them, as it reveals their names and addresses of its members.

Mike

13:35 PM, 30th July 2020
About 2 weeks ago

My apologies regarding "Petrol Scooter", yes it has arrived but I did not order a Petrol Scooter, so I supected the email could be from scammers and I better not click on any links, yes it was a genuine parcel but was not a petrol scooter but a laptop power supply, I forgot or didn't pay attention to the seller of the power supply is called Petrol Scooter, silly name for a business selling computer products on ebay.

David Price

13:36 PM, 30th July 2020
About 2 weeks ago

I tried to report loss of supply for an intellectually disabled tenant and even that had to come from the tenant herself. Trouble is she could not speak coherently for herself and the unility company would not accept her authorisation for me to speak for her as they could not understnd what she said.

I do so love this modern caring society and the call centre monkeys who seem now to control everything.

Freda Blogs

13:58 PM, 30th July 2020
About 2 weeks ago

I had a call a few years back from someone wishing to speak to my father. I advised them that he had recently passed away and that I was his daughter and legal representative. There then followed a bizarre conversation where the caller insisted on speaking to him because she could not discuss his affairs with me....
Similarly with banks and my mother - she was hard of hearing and would be in a room with me whilst I made the call to the bank, and I would put her on the call so they could get her authorisation, but she could not hear a word they were saying, and couldn't always provide the answers they were seeking, even with my help, so sometimes we got nowhere...

I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was unbelievably frustrating and I simply could not achieve some of the simplest tasks that needed to be done. Crazy situation.


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