Scams have always been the most common type of crime in the UK and in this time of fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, scams have increased 400% (according to the City of London Police). Action Fraud has reported that there have been 105 reports of covid 19 scams with a total loss of nearly £970,000.
You need to stay alert and aware that scammers are using the covid-19 pandemic to their advantage. They will use fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages, whatsapp messages and social media to try and scam you. Things to keep an eye out for are any of these that contain information on;
- Vaccines or cures
- Testing kits
- Overpriced goods
- People asking for charity donations
- Bogus emails claiming to be from the government
Coronavirus email and text phishing scams
Phishing emails and smishing text messages are used to con someone into giving out login details. One scam involves criminals claiming to be from the World Health Organisation, they encourage you to click the link, promising information on how to stay safe. It will then encourage you to enter your email and password and boom, they’ve got your details. The fake website might look legitimate, but you should NEVER enter your email and password to a link that has been sent to you out of the blue. There are a few similar scams floating around that claim to be from different health organisations that want to trick you into giving out confidential information.
You also need to look out for the following covid-19 related scams;
Fake lockdown fines– the rules of lockdown may not be clear to everyone, so you might be at risk for falling for this one. The scam involves you receiving a text message from the ‘government’ saying your movements have been tracked via your phone and you have now received a fine. The message will include a threat of more severe penalties if you don’t pay.
HMRC Goodwill Payment– the MET police has put a warning out about this particular scam. This scam is trying to steal your bank details; you will receive a message that says something along the lines of ‘As part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19 virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment’. This is fake.
Fake council tax reductions- this one is clever because it uses government branding to try to convince you it’s legit. The email will offer you a coronavirus related council tax rebate, for which you will have to submit your banking details. Again, never give out your bank details to an untrusted source.
Free School Meals– there has been a lot in the press about free school meals when the schools were closed. This scam is, again, trying to steal your bank details. You will receive an email telling you that you are entailed to free school meals and they will encourage you to hand over your details so they can ‘support you’.
The Vaccine Scam- the email will try and convince you to give up your bank details by using NHS colours and signage. The email will ask you to click on a link to accept or decline your invitation for you covid 19 vaccine. If you click to accept, then it will then ask for your personal details and bank information.
A quote from the Action Fraud website;
“You will never get an email, text message or phone call from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which:
– tells you about a tax rebate or penalty
– asks for your personal or payment information
You can report suspicious HMRC emails by forwarding them to email@example.com. You can report suspicious HMRC text messages by forwarding the message to 60599 – you’ll be charged at your standard network rate.”