Scams and Fraudulent Activity
Help and advice to protect your business from Covid-19 frauds and scams.
Coronavirus fraud has become a barrier to recovery and fraudsters are taking advantage of the coronavirus situation to try and trick people and businesses out of their money.
Fraud criminals are using the internet, telephone and door-to-door to exploit fear of the coronavirus pandemic. There are an increasing number of spam campaigns using Covid-19 as a lure to trick people into installing a variety of malware to steal personal data and convince you to donate money to protect yourself and others.
As more of us work from home, it’s important now more than ever that you remain alert, keep yourself up to date with the current trends and be on the lookout for anything suspicious.
We want to support our industry through these challenging times which includes helping you protect yourself from frauds and scams.
Here are some examples of the latest coronavirus scams as well as some tips to help keep your money safe:
Covid Safe Air Purifer Scam
A letter is circulating under the guise of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It claims that from 3rd May 2021 all businesses must have COVID safe air purifiers installed and requesting personal details. This is a scam.
Criminals impersonate genuine organisations, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) or HMRC. They send emails asking you to click on a link to receive more information, to claim a refund or to donate money to help others. But these links go to fake sites where you’re asked to enter your details, or they’ll install malicious software on to your computer or device.
’Face mask for sale’
Criminals will post fake adverts online selling coronavirus-related protective equipment and health products, including face masks and hand sanitiser. They may even claim there’s a test kit you can purchase. Once you’ve paid, the goods never arrive as the companies don’t exist.
Offers of financial support
Callers offering to reduce interest payments or give payment holidays on your credit cards, loans and mortgages. They could also offer to apply for Government initiated financial support packages on your behalf. These calls won’t be genuine, but they’ll request your card or bank details to check your eligibility or to progress the application
Helping someone in difficulty
Requests from someone who claims to be stuck abroad or needing financial support because of the coronavirus outbreak. They’ll convince you to send them money but it won’t be a genuine request.
Action Fraud has reported that they’ve received more than 5,000 reports about fake emails and texts pretending to be from TV licensing.
These fake messages contain links to false websites that are designed to capture banking, personal or security information.
You can take sensible precautions to spot signs and prevent becoming a victim of fraud:
- Take a break and verify that any contact is genuine – use trusted sources and publicly available telephone numbers/email addresses. A genuine organisation will never rush you into taking action. Don't reveal any personal or financial details during unsolicited messages or calls.
- Secure your computer and your login credentials, especially if you are connecting to your company’s network. Be extra careful of bogus security software, especially if it tries to use the coronavirus as a selling point. Keep your computer up to date and use extra caution when downloading new programs.
- Avoid paying by money transfer when buying online. Pay with secure payment methods, such as PayPal or your credit/debit card.
- If you get an unprecedented or suspicious email or text message, don’t click on the attachment or message and never enter your online banking details after following an email link.
- Beware of instant notifications and other messages, even if they appear to come from friends. Carefully examine web links and email addresses and assure yourself that these are genuine. Don’t be afraid to challenge messages. It’s okay to refuse or ignore requests for your money or details if you are suspicious. Don't click on links or attachments in unexpected and suspicious emails.
Whilst many of these scams aren’t new, criminals will always use current situations to try and trick people and businesses out of their money. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, alert your bank immediately so the payment can be stopped.
You can report fraud or cybercrime to Action Fraud at any time www.actionfraud.police.uk or by telephoning 0300 123 2040.
The National Cyber Security Centre has published advice on the current wave of cyber threats related to Covid-19 and the Crown Prosecution Service has also published advice on how to protect yourself from those seeking to capitalise on the Covid-19 pandemic and the different types of fraud being perpetrated.