The last 12 months has been full of new challenges. There have been many positives, such as spending more time with immediate family, environmental impact, learning new skills and a greater sense of community. Unfortunately, alongside these positives, the pandemic has also increased the vulnerabilities in our society and this greater sense of community is being called upon to tackle this issue.

People are more susceptible to scams when their mind is on other matters and so, during this pandemic, scammers are taking advantage of these uncertain times for their own financial gain. The people that they can target, and the tactics that they can use has increased significantly.

We, as a society, need to use the positives to help protect those that are at their most vulnerable, whether this is an elderly neighbour who is feeling particularly isolated and lonely, or the NHS worker who is struggling to cope with the stresses of work and provide the home schooling for their children.

The Government has recognised that scams are on the increase and that some scams are designed to appear from them. They are designed to steal personal data, but preventative action can deny the scammers from getting the information and ultimately money that they are looking for.

Criminals are sending texts, emails and making telephone calls impersonating organisations that you know and trust and offering financial support. If you receive any of these, asking for personal or financial details, do not respond. Contact the organisation through a known route.

The ten scams to be wary of

Covid-19 financial support scams

  1. Fake government emails, which look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information.
  2. Emails and texts stating that due to the recent announcement of the stage-5 lockdown you’re eligible for a COVID-19 support grant, which encourage victims to fill in a form and hand over their personal information.
  3. Official-looking emails offering a "council tax reduction". The emails contain links that lead to a fake government website, which harvests personal and financial information.
  4. Benefit recipients are offered help in applying for universal credit, but fraudsters grab some of the payment as an advance for their "services".

Health scams

  1. Phishing emails claiming that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19. They lead to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or infect devices with malware.
  2. Fake adverts for non-existent coronavirus-related products, such as hand sanitizer and face masks, which simply take the victim's cash and send them nothing.
  3. Communication purporting to be from the NHS offering the vaccine requesting a payment. The vaccine is free of charge.

Lockdown scams

  1. Fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing or TV subscription services, telling people they are eligible for six months for free because of the pandemic. Victims are told there has been a problem with their direct debit and are asked to click on a link that takes them to a fake website, which steals their personal and financial information.
  2. Fake profiles on social media sites are used to manipulate victims into handing over their money. Criminals will often use the identities of real people to strike up conversation with their targets.
  3. Fake investment opportunities are advertised on social media sites, encouraging victims to "take advantage of the financial downturn". Bitcoin platforms are using emails and adverts on social media platforms to encourage unsuspecting victims to put money into fake companies using fake websites.

 

Remember, the vaccine is being rolled out, which will be of great comfort to many people, however scammers are sadly taking advantage of this.

Please remember the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.


- The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.

- The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.

- The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.

- The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.  

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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