Covid-19 Fraud Prevention and Advice
During the Coronavirus outbreak please be extra vigilant. You should always be on your guard against fraud, particularly if you are asked to share financial or personal information.
Don’t fall for it – scammers are trying to cash in on the Covid-19 pandemic. During these times, we are seeing the best in many people; it is horrible to think that we are also seeing the worst in others.
You can take three simple steps to protect yourself from fraudsters:
- Stop - Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information
- Challenge - Could the person or company you’re dealing with be fake? It’s okay 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 please report it to ActionFraud by email or call 0300 123 2040
You can also get advice and support from Citizens Advice on 0808 250 5050 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk or via Victim Support’s confidential support line on 08 08 16 89 111, or visit victimsupport.org.uk
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Look for a name you know. Please use trusted and reputable suppliers. Seek advice from other trusted family members or friends. Using credit cards also offers more protection.
When should I contact the Police?
If the scammer is in your area or if you've transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours please contact the police immediately by calling 101
Police expect a surge in phishing scams or calls claiming to be from government departments offering grants, tax rebates or compensation.
If you ever feel threatened or unsafe please call 999.
Offers of help and support
Lots of people are offering to help and support to anyone in their communities who are staying at home.
Although the majority of people offering help are genuine, sadly, there may be some who try to take advantage of this situation for their own gains.
Please ensure that you find out more information about the people offering to help. You could:
- Ask for ID and further information on how you can contact them
- Do not feel pressured to accept help from a stranger
- Please do not hand over money to someone you don’t know who is offering to help you
- If someone offers to do your shopping, ask them for a receipt, so that you can pay them to cover the cost of the items. And insist that you will only pay them upon their return.
- If someone claims to be from a recognised organisation, don't be afraid to ask to see proof or check with the organisation itself.
Examples of current Scams
Some of the scams that are currently in use include:
- Continued use of the NHS in scam messages requesting either money or personal details
- Coronavirus-themed computer or mobile device phishing attempts continue
- People are being duped into opening attachments, which then compromise their personal information, email logins, passwords and banking details
- Scams where people are being told they have been fined for leaving the house – designed to obtain personal or financial details
- Fake on-line suppliers targeting people trying to buy medical supplies, hand sanitiser, face masks, medical support, testing kits and similar goods online
- Making appeals for you to support bogus charities or those who are ill
- Online shopping scams where orders never arrive
- Using Government branding to try and trick people – examples include:
- Using HMRC branding to make fake offers of financial support through emails, phone calls and text messages
- HMRC phishing email scam in which individuals are asked to complete a “coronavirus relief form” in order to receive payment within 2 days
- HMRC fake websites or emails promising tax refunds
- HMRC demand for payments of corporation tax using a photo-shopped letter
- Impersonating healthcare and other government workers
- Text messages are being sent to dupe people into topping up their mobile phones as they cannot visit shops.
- Text, WhatsApp and email messages telling people to claim vouchers. The victim clicks the link and enters personal information
- Hackers are sending a new COVID 19 email titled “You are infected”. Recipients are asked to download an infected Excel document attached to the email and proceed to the nearest emergency health clinic for testing
- Scams specifically targeting the elderly, such as selling pre-paid funerals and power of attorneys
- Scam email, stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’.
Always check information with official government and council advice, which you can access through our website.
Please report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud either online or by calling 0300 123 2040.