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UK Finance warns of COVID-19 scams

Published on 11 August 2020 01:08 PM

Using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity, fraudsters are using sophisticated methods to callously exploit people, with many concerned about their financial situation and the state of the economy.

UK Finance warned of scams to be on the lookout for and how to spot them:

Health scams

• One of the most shocking scams that has appeared during the pandemic has involved using the NHS Test and Trace service. Criminals are preying on an anxious public by sending phishing emails and links claiming that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. These lead to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or infect devices with malware.

• Victims are also being targeted by fake adverts for COVID-related products such as hand sanitizer and face masks which do not exist.

Covid-19 financial support scams

• Criminals have sent fake government emails designed to look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information from victims.

• Fraudsters have also been sending scam emails which offer access to ‘COVID-19 relief funds’ encouraging victims to fill in a form with their personal information.

• Criminals have been targeting people with official-looking emails offering a ‘council tax reduction’. These emails, which use government branding, contain links which lead to a fake government website which is used to access personal and financial information.

• Fraudsters are also preying on benefit recipients, offering to help apply for Universal Credit, while taking some of the payment as an advance for their “services”.

Lockdown scams

• Criminals are sending fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months of free TV license because of the coronavirus 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 used to steal personal and financial information.

• Amid a rise in the use of online TV subscription services during the lockdown, customers have been targeted by criminals sending convincing emails asking them to update their payment details by clicking on a link which is then used to steal credit card information.

• Fraudsters are also exploiting those using online dating websites by creating fake profiles on social media sites used to manipulate victims into handing over their money. Often criminals will use the identities of real people to strike up relationships with their targets.

• Criminals are using social media websites to advertise fake investment opportunities, 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 investment companies using fake websites.

If you would like some reassurances or some advice about scams to feel safer, please call one of our trained teams on 0115 859 9260 (Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm, Friday 9am - 4.30pm) or email us on safeandsound@ageuknotts.org.uk