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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – fraudsters use covid-19 testing scam to gain access to people’s homes

19 June 2020
  • Fraudsters posing at NHS contact tracers to access people’s homes
  • Criminals using Bluetooth to steal information such as texts, documents and mobile provider information, as well as bugging devices.

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is highlighting the latest coronavirus scams from the past week, and warning the public to stay vigilant of the ever-changing tactics that scammers are using to extract money and information.

This week Cifas has been made aware of the following scams:

COVID-19 home testing scam

There have been a number of COVID-19 testing scams circulating during the pandemic, and this week Cifas has learned that criminals have been contacting the public claiming to be NHS contact tracers offering a home visit to carry out a test. The scam is designed to gain access to people’s homes to steal goods.

Cifas is reminding people that the NHS will never ask for bank details or payments, or ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone. They will also never ask you to call them on a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087. For more information on the NHS Test & Trace service visit their website here.

Universal Credit scams

The public continue to be targeted by fraudsters offering government loans and grants linked to claims for Universal Credit. Many of these scammers use professional looking social media profiles and websites, with testimonials and government logos.

Remember that the government will never ask for personal or bank details over text or email. Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should report it to Action Fraud, and also speak to their local Jobcentre or the Department of Work and Pensions that pay their benefit.

Hackers target Bluetooth users

With the rise in large numbers of people working remotely, fraudsters are increasingly finding multiple ways of hacking people’s devices using Bluetooth to gather important data such as texts, documents, photos, mobile provider information. They are also attacking users with spam advertisements and in some cases, bugging devices.

Cifas is warning people to avoid using Bluetooth to communicate sensitive information such as passwords and documents, and always encrypt files before transferring them. Users should only leave their Bluetooth in ‘discoverable’ mode when they are pairing a new peripheral with their device, and remember to turn Bluetooth off when not being used.

Southwest Airlines Facebook scam

Facebook users are being targeted by fake advertisements purporting to be from Southwest Airlines and offering free round-trip flights for the first 500 people who share and comment on their posts. This is a common scam often seen on social media sites and is designed to steal personal and financial details.

There are currently a large number of fake adverts, quizzes and offers of giveaways circulating on social media, all of which are put together to harvest details that can be used for identity theft. Cifas is reminding people never to share personal or financial details on social media, or if they are approached via unsolicited calls, texts or emails.

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer for Cifas, said: ‘Months after lockdown started, and we still see criminals targeting homeworkers and preying on people’s fear and anxieties over coronavirus.

‘Fraudsters are continually changing their tactics, and so people need to stay alert and always be cautious when buying products online or responding to unsolicited emails and texts. Never be afraid to challenge requests for personal or financial information – no matter how legitimate the sender appears to be, and never feel rushed or pressured into a decision that you may later regret.’

Anyone that believes they have been the victim of a scam should contact their bank or financial service provider immediately and report the fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Corinne Gladstone
Head of Communications, Cifas
T: +44 (0)20 3004 3654
E: corinne.gladstone@cifas.org.uk

Notes to editors

Cifas has a webpage dedicated to giving advice on coronavirus fraud and the latest scams here

For more advice on preventing fraud visit the Take Five website.

About Cifas

Cifas is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2018, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.4 billion of fraud losses.

Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime and works alongside law enforcement agencies in tackling fraud.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team
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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

Contact us at press@cifas.org.uk

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