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Cifas coronavirus scam update – HMRC phone calls, Pfizer survey and census phishing

24 March 2021

Cifas coronavirus scam update – HMRC phone calls, Pfizer survey and census phishing

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.

HMRC Phone Scams

HMRC has issued warnings following reports of a phone scam whereby individuals are told there is an outstanding fraud case in their name. Victims are told to press 1 on their keypad to connect to an officer and discuss their case, with a warning that if they do not comply a warrant will be issued for their arrest.

This scam technique has also been seen with fraudsters purporting to be calling from supermarkets, directing individuals to speak to a member of their fraud team about a large order which is allegedly due to be debited from their account.

These are scam calls and the public are advised to hang up without pressing any other buttons on their keypad. If you do press a button following the message then you will likely be connected to a criminal who will attempt to trick you out of your personal details.

Scam calls purporting to be from HMRC can be reported on the GOV.UK website. If you have provided your details in response to a scam call, report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

Pfizer vaccine survey email

A warning has been issued in response to a scam email purporting to be from a ‘Pfizer Vaccine Opinion Panel’, offering rewards in return of feedback. With the vaccine now being offered to all adults over the age of 50 in addition to those working in healthcare or at high risk, this scam appears to target those typically associated with being vulnerable to online email scams.

This is a scam email and recipients are advised to not click on links and never share personal information with individuals who cannot prove who they say they are. If you have provided your details in response to this scam, report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

Census scams tricking victims out of their personal information

With Census day passed, scammers are using the opportunity to pressure and trick people into handing over their details. With potential fines of up to £1,000 for not completing the Census or for providing false information, criminals are attempting a range of techniques to take advantage.

Action Fraud has warned of the potential for scammers to send phishing emails or texts to trick recipients out of personal details they would expect to disclose to the Census. There have also been reports of victims claiming to have been called by someone purporting to be from the Office of National Statistics suggesting the Census form had not been completed correctly.

Residents in the UK will only be contacted about the census via letter and will never be asked for their banking details or passwords for online accounts. If you have provided your details in response to a Census scam, report it to you bank immediately, and also to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘The Census is providing criminals with a unique opportunity to steal people’s personal and financial data which can be used to commit identity theft. ONS has confirmed that they will never call people and ask for this type of personal information, and if anyone is contacted by someone wanting to discuss their Census form then they must hang immediately and report the incident to Action Fraud.

‘Throughout the pandemic we have seen that fraudsters have been quick to respond to new and emerging issues in order to steal information and money. Although lockdown will begin to ease over the next few months, criminals will try even harder to use opportunities such as the vaccine roll-out to commit fraud. Now is not the time to be letting our guard down, and we must continue to be ever vigilant of the threat of fraud.’



Notes to editors

About Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention service. We lead the fight against fraud by sharing data, intelligence and learning. The organisations that collaborate with us are drawn from all sectors, operating in both the public and private sectors working together to stop fraud. A full list of our members can be found on our website.

Organisations that work with Cifas, contribute to and benefit from the UK’s largest databases of fraud risk data and intelligence. We are committed to the principle of collaboration, which connects and drives our community, and enables the sharing of:

We enable the secure sharing of high quality, trusted data to fight fraud. Our databases are the most comprehensive and diverse sources of fraud risk data in the UK.

We provide research and dynamic intelligence that influences the threat picture and strengthens the response against fraud.

We are a leading provider of accredited education and trusted training.

Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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