Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – The Money Advice Service scam, fake Just Eat gift card and vaccine phishing
3 March 2021
The Money Advice Service issue warning about scam WhatsApp message impersonating them
Well-known brands continue to be impersonated by scammers to steal personal information
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.
The Money Advice Service WhatsApp scam
The Money Advice Service has issued a warning about scam WhatsApp messages purporting to be sent from them. In these messages, it is claimed that following a recent conversation with a debt adviser, it is likely the recipient’s application to have some of their debt written off will be approved. In order to process this, they ask for recent bank statements, payslips, ID and any letters from creditors.
This is a scam message and The Money Advice Service has confirmed they will never send unsolicited WhatsApp messages. Personal details and documents provided in this scam will likely be used to impersonate the victim to set up new credit facilities and take over existing accounts.
The Money Advice Service request that any scam messages using their logo are reported to them via firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have provided your details and documents in response to this scam, report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland. Also consider applying for a Protective Registration with Cifas to protect yourself from being impersonated with any Cifas member organisation.
Just East £50 gift card
The consumer champion organisation Which? has received multiple reports of fake emails claiming to be from Just Eat, the online delivery service, offering a £50 gift card for their service. The email address used to send this scam message has spoofed the just-eat.com domain in an attempt to appear legitimate.
Which? is warning that those who attempt to claim the voucher will almost certainly be directed through to a phishing website which will attempt to steal sensitive information. Just Eat has also confirmed they will never send an email asking a customer to follow a link and fill in their personal details in order to receive a voucher.
Cifas recently warned of a 195% increase in facility takeover fraud committed against retailers in 2020, with phishing attacks against consumers highlighted as a key enabler of this. When being asked to click on links and share your personal information, take your time to assess and consider the impact of handing over your details.
If you believe you have handed over your personal details to a criminal, report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland, as well as your bank if you provided your banking details.
Fraudsters target taxpayers with phishing scam
Taxpayers have reported a new SMS phishing scam specifically targeting anyone filing a tax return for the 2019/2020 financial year. This email informs the recipient that they are due a rebate, and asks them to click on a link which takes them through to a fake site that looks similar to the official HMRC website. Victims are then asked for personal details in order to claim their ‘rebate’.
Cifas is reminding taxpayers that if someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help, are due a tax refund or owe tax, or asks for bank or other personal details, it might be a scam. Suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC can be forwarded to email@example.com and texts to 60599.
Covid-19 vaccine phishing attacks
Britons continue to be targeted by criminals seeking to exploit the Covid-19 vaccine by creating phishing websites designed to appear as legitimate NHS websites. Recipients are sent a message asking them to accept an invitation to receive their vaccination, which directs them to a phishing website asking for details such as name, address, mobile number, mother’s maiden name and bank details.
The Covid-19 vaccination is free of charge and the NHS has confirmed they will never ask for your bank or card details to take payment or validate your identity. They will also never ask for other documentation to prove your identity, such as a passport, bank statement or utility bill. These details and documents could be used by criminals to commit identity fraud against the victim.
If you believe you have provided your details in response to one of these scam messages, report it to your bank and to Action Fraud or Police Scotland immediately.
Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘We continue to see sophisticated attempts by scammers to impersonate well-known brands and organisations we’re remotely interacting with during these times, particularly the NHS. Their goal isn’t necessarily to trick you into sending money as your personal information can be far more valuable to them.
‘If a criminal can collect enough information on you as an individual, they could set up multiple facilities in your name, such as loans, credit cards and mobile phone contracts. Providing them with even more information by accidentally sharing utility bills, bank statements or a driving licence will mean you become even more valuable to them.
‘If you are ever asked to provide personal or financial information or supply your documents, take a moment to think about the consequences of parting with your details.’
Notes to Editors:
Cifas has a webpage dedicated to giving advice on coronavirus fraud and the latest scams.
For more advice on preventing fraud visit the Take Five website.
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 2019, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.5 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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