We are committed to helping educate our members about how you can protect yourself from fraud and scams. Sadly, there has been an increase in fraudsters using Coronavirus as a front in their use of scam telephone calls, texts and emails.
Criminals spend hours researching their scams and use a range of different tactics, sometimes impersonating employees of legitimate organisations in order to capitalise on situations for their own financial gain. Learning more about the different types of fraud and scams could potentially help you to avoid falling victim to them.
Please be vigilant about any messages you receive that claim to be from a financial services organisation. If you are concerned about anything you receive, it is essential that you contact your bank or building society before making any transactions. Remember:
- Stop – take a moment to think about what you are being asked before you commit to carrying out any transactions
- Challenge – please don’t be afraid to ask questions or if you feel uncomfortable say ‘no’ and end the conversation
We take our responsibilities very seriously and we will never call, email or text you to ask you to do any of the following:
- Disclose your passwords to your accounts
- Move your money into another account
- Demand immediate payment of mortgage arrears or other sums over the phone or on your doorstep
- Ask you to make any payments via email by providing you with a link through which to make payments
Traditionally scams have been targeted at the most vulnerable and socially isolated individuals, however, there is an argument that almost anyone can now fall within this category as criminals try to capitalise on the Covid-19 situation. The most recent scams reported include:
- Fake Covid-19 tracing text messages to dupe recipients into giving fraudsters their personal data and / or spread malware. If you receive one of these messages, you can check the validity of the unique ID number that has been provided using the Gov.uk NHS Track & Trace website. Instead of following any links included in the text, go to the website from your web browser and enter the ID number you have been given. If there is no ID number, it is not a genuine text message
- Fake communications from HMRC where fraudsters pose as the tax authority using emails, texts and phone calls – such as bogus offers for tax rebates or special arrangements due to the Covid-19 lockdown and fake demands for payment of tax. HMRC has stressed that it will never email, text or message individual tax payers on Social Media to offer a tax rebate. Individuals should forward any suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to [email protected] and send any suspicious text messages to 60599
- Fake websites selling Covid-19 testing kits, fake PPE and fake hand sanitiser
- Individuals impersonating officials by going door-to-door and offering to test people for Covid-19
- People being asked to place markers on their windows and / or doors which identifies them as being vulnerable and in quarantine. They are told that this will enable a team to identify them and help with essential deliveries, e.g. food shopping. This is a tactic to highlight the most vulnerable individuals to criminal gangs so they can then target these houses
- Reports of individuals going door-to-door offering to do shopping and then stealing the cash they are given to do this
- Cold callers offering to disinfect driveways and doorbells for a fee
- Traditional doorstep crimes - such as offering to fix broken roof tiles - but advising the home owner to stay inside to maintain social distancing
- Adverts for online quizzes and games aimed at promoting fun whilst in lockdown. These are, however, social engineering and harvesting techniques to obtain personal and financial information
- Links to fake vouchers for supermarkets
- Social Media targeting – if people post online about any repairs that need doing, this is being exploited by individuals who then offer to carry out the work. Please be careful what you are posting on Social Media; if a job is really urgent, either use someone you have used before or someone from a reputable approved site e.g. TrustATrader, Checkatrade, etc
- Stop any transactions – if you have made any transactions, contact your bank or building society as soon as you can, they may be able to stop or reverse any payments
- Report it – you can make a report to the Police Action Fraud line by calling 0300 123 2040. More information can be found here
Several initiatives have been set up to try to help combat the issue of scams, e.g. Take Five to Stop Fraud and Friends Against Scams. Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering individuals to take a stand against them.
In addition to this, the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) work to raise awareness on illegal money lenders (loan sharks) and are committed to supporting individuals who have borrowed from these lenders. The Stop Loan Sharks helpline service remains fully operational during the Covid-19 pandemic and is there to support victims, their friends, family members and the wider community to encourage people to come forward if they suspect someone is suffering at the hands of loan sharks.
For more information on how you can prevent falling victim to fraud or a scam, including advice on how to report any suspicious activities, please visit the following sites: