Fraud & Scams Advice
It is important that during these times we remain vigilant about protecting ourselves and others from frauds, scams and misinformation.
Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or your personal information.
Remember to challenge – could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
If you think you have fallen for a scam contact your bank or financial service provider immediately and report to Action Fraud. The following advice will help you to identify potential scams or frauds and avoid becoming a victim.
Our Intelligence Team is constantly monitoring for new and emerging scams around the coronavirus. Here is the latest information on the types of fraud they are seeing:
Fake Omicron PCR Test Kits
The NHS has issued a warning about scam emails asking recipient to order an Omicron PCR test. This email links to a phishing website with NHS branding designed to steal personal and banking details, which could be used to commit fraud.
Remember that the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS, and that the NHS will never ask for:
- Bank account or card details;
- Banking passwords or login details;
- Copies of personal documents such as a passport, driving licence, bills or payslips.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud then you must contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Police Scotland via 101.
Scam emails should be sent to the National Cyber Security Centre by forwarding emails to email@example.com.
Jobseekers warned of fake festive job adverts
Cifas has partnered with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and JobsAware to warn of the threat of job scams this festive period.
During 2020, seasonal job scams increased by 88% compared to 2019, with figures predicted to rise again this year. It’s important to remain vigilant and familiarise yourself with the signs of a potential job scam or fraudulent job advert.
Common signs of a job scam include:
- Illegitimate companies or illegitimate emails;
- Poorly-written job adverts;
- Suspicious contact details;
- Unrealistic salaries;
- Job offers without an interview;
- Being asked for money.
If you suspect you have been targeted or are a victim of a job scam, report this to JobsAware. If you have given away your banking details, report this to your bank immediately.
Fifa World Cup 2022 Scams
An increasing number of reports have been received of scam messages offering tickets to the Fifa World Cup 2022. Messages have been received through a variety of methods, including messages on WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as letters and phone calls.
As well as attempting to steal victim’s personal details, electronic messages were also accompanied by attachments which were malicious and could steal user credentials.
Those receiving these messages are reminded to take a moment to stop and think before handing over personal or banking details. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in emails, and forward any phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Impersonation emails and SMS texts
If you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message out of the blue purporting to be from the government, HMRC, World Health Organisation (WHO) or a charity about coronavirus, then take a moment to think before you before part with any money or information. Never click on any links or download attachments as fraudsters will try to get victims to download malware or enter their personal details into fake websites which can be used to steal your identity.
If you receive a call offering protective face masks, hand sanitiser, testing kits, medicine, etc. be aware that they may not always be legitmate. If you do receive a call, don’t be afraid to hang up and research the company first. We have also been notified about a large number of victims ordering goods over the phone or online, offering up their bank details, and items never arriving.
Anxiety surrounding the coronavirus may lead people to rush into decisions without thinking rationally. It is important if you are ever contacted and asked for personal and/or financial information to STOP, Take Five, and think critically about what you are doing.
With many holidays being affected as a result of COVID-19 there will inevitably be an increase in scams offering refunds or rebookings. If you receive a call or email from someone purporting to be from a travel company or airline offering anything holiday related be very cautious. The best thing to do is contact the party you booked your holiday with directly.
HMRC Job Retention scams
The Job Retention Scheme has launched and fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of this with a subsequent rise in business owners targeted by phishing emails purporting to be from the HMRC. The emails attempt to seem legitimate by spoofing email addresses and using official sounding subject lines. The emails ask for bank account details of recipient and can include spelling and grammar mistakes. Always make sure emails requesting financial information are legitimate and from a trusted sender before you take action.
Emails are on the increase claiming to be from reputable organisations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the World Health Organisation (WHO) and requesting Bitcoin payments. These emails are usually requesting money to fund a cure for coronavirus or a donation to coronavirus related charity. Never click on links or download attachments from emails you receive out of the blue as they can release malware onto your device or steal your bank details.
Advice for homeworkers
With many organisations moving to remote working, there has been an increase in emails with fraudsters impersonating CEOs or IT departments asking employees to move funds, send banking information or security information via email. Always make sure emails requesting financial or secure information are legitimate and from a trusted sender before you take action.
WiFi provider phishing calls
We have seen an increase in fraudsters impersonating WiFi providers and threatening that customers will be disconnected unless they pay a fee. With large numbers of people working from home at the moment, this is causing many to panic and feel pressured into making rash decisions. If you do receive a call like this then hang up immediately and call your WiFi provider back on a confirmed phone number.
It is important to ensure your security settings are up to date on all your devices. Never share your screen with anyone you cannot confirm is legitimate. If you receive an email from your IT department urging you to download any updates to your device it is always best to confirm over the phone using a phone number you already have and not the number included in the email, do not ‘reply’ to email.
Currently the UK government and NHS are in charge of distributing the Covid-19 vaccine and they shall contact those who are eligible to arrange the administration. The vaccine is not available through any other means, and you cannot pay for the vaccine through an alternative provider or receive the vaccine quicker. If anyone contacts you regarding the vaccine asking for payment then it is important to alert the police and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. There has also been a rise in adverts on social media claiming to offer ‘cures’ for coronavirus and you should ignore these as they are scams.
With international travel gradually resuming it is likely that testing for the virus will become of greater importance, resulting in a parallel production and distribution of unauthorised falsified testing kits. INTERPOL are also advising the general public to take special care when going online to search for medical equipment or medicines.
There has been an increase in cases of fake charities knocking on doors and asking residents to donate to coronavirus related causes. It is important that you never give your financial information to someone you cannot confirm is legitimate. Take time to do your research beforehand if you wish to donate to a charity, and always send money through a secure online portal – never transfer money into someone’s bank account.
Do your research into the websites you are ordering products from, and do not panic buy. We have seen an increasing number of fake sites claiming to sell protective face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser that never get delivered. Be cautious of clicking links from emails or adverts on social media as many of these sites are set up with the sole intention of gathering personal information and banking details.
- Do not panic buy.
- Do your research and look at reviews of the sites you are buying from.
- Be very cautious of ads found on social media.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For more advice on how to prevent fraud, visit the Take Five website: Takefive-stopfraud.org.uk