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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update - rise in HMRC scams ahead of Tax Credit deadline & shoppers targeted by face mask fraud

24 July 2020
  • Fraudsters pose as HMRC to target public ahead of tax credits renewal deadline
  • Criminals target shoppers with protective face mask scam

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:

HMRC warns of Tax Credit scam

With the 31 July deadline for customers to renew their tax credits fast approaching, HMRC is warning of a rise in people being contacted by fraudsters purporting to be from the agency. In April, HMRC announced that those claiming Working Tax Credits would receive additional funds as part of a number of measures to support the country during the pandemic. Since then, there has been a rise in people receiving calls and texts claiming to be from HMRC asking for personal and financial details.

Cifas is reminding the public that organisations such as HMRC will never make unsolicited calls asking for personal or financial details, and that people can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Fake Police face mask scam

Members of the public in Scotland have reported receiving calls from fraudsters claiming to be local police officers investigating reports that they have been seen not wearing a protective face mask. Victims are then subjected to lengthy questioning with the aim of extracting as much personal information as possible that can be used for identity fraud.

Anyone receiving similar calls should hang up immediately and inform the police. Never share personal or financial information – no matter how legitimate the caller may appear to be.

Grant application smishing

Criminals continue to target the public with offers of fake government loans and grants. This week a number of people have reported receiving text messages purporting to be from the government encouraging recipients to apply for money under various COVID grant schemes. Victims are directed to a fake website where they asked to provide information including their bank account details and passport number which criminals then use to commit fraud.

Cifas is reminding people 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 their bank and Action Fraud immediately.

Amazon Prime scam  

With more people using internet platforms for shopping as a result of working from home, fraudsters are increasingly targeting platform users with phishing scams. This week there have been reports of people receiving automated telephone calls claiming they have opened an Amazon Prime account. Those wishing to cancel are redirected to a fraudster purporting to be an Amazon call handler who informs them the purchase went through as a result of a ‘security flaw’ on their computer. They are then asked to then asked to allow the handler remote access to their computer, giving the fraudster the opportunity to steal personal information, such as passwords and bank details.

Anyone receiving an unsolicited call claiming to be from Amazon or any other platform provider should delete it immediately and never click on links or use contact details in messages. Check account details through the provider’s official website and only use contact details provided on the site.  

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer for Cifas, said: ‘Criminals have been relentless throughout the pandemic in their pursuit of obtaining information from innocent members of the public to steal their identities and money.

‘Despite lockdown beginning to ease, it’s still important that we keep our guard up against scams. Stop and think before responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails, and never be afraid to challenge requests for personal or financial information. If you do think you’ve been the victim of a scam then notify your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.’

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

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