Advice and support

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of the biggest threats we have seen to our society in a generation, but fraudsters are using the crisis as an opportunity to scam thousands of pounds from the public.

According to Action Fraud, Coronavirus scams have cost victims in the UK over £800,000 in just one month. That’s why we have put together some tips to help you avoid being scammed:

Never hand over your bank card, even if somebody is offering to do your shopping for you

There have been several reports of criminals knocking on doors offering to purchase food for people who are self-isolating, however, these thieves never return with any food, they simply take your money and disappear.

Do not hand over any cash or bank details to people claiming to represent charities associated with a cure for the Coronavirus

The leading authority on the Coronavirus is the World Health Organisation (WHO). They have publicly stated: “There is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease… However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available.”

With many governments already funding research, there is no reason for anybody to knock on your door pretending to raise money for a cure.

Ignore communications that ask for your personal details and banking information. Try using another way to verify.

Legitimate businesses and the government will already have your information on record, so they could send you a confirmation email or a phone call.

Although be wary, many scammers pretend to be legitimate businesses or organisations, for example, there are several scams relating to HMRC saying people can claim a tax refund to help protect themselves from the Coronavirus outbreak. Other cons include “Goodwill payments” or “£250 fine” texts. These are not true. If these were genuine, they would be shown on the news and advertised. You would be notified about this information on the news.

Keep an eye out for websites that do not look very professional. A lot of site have been set up pretending to sell protective equipment such as facemasks or hand sanitiser, but the goods never arrive.

Fake Phone Calls

Some criminals have been phoning people pretending to be medical staff, claiming you’re your relative has fallen sick and then asking for payment for the treatment. This is not something medical staff would ever do.  

Beware of emails that urge you to take immediate action or offer cures

One of the biggest tricks a scammers use are time limits. By saying you must “act now” or you only have a short amount of time, it forces people to panic and make rash decisions. If people were given more time to consider they would act more sensibly.

Those with savings are more likely to be targeted and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is urging people to take their time and visit the Pensions Advisory Service website for free guidance before making any decisions about retirement savings.

Stay safe by only speaking to people you know and trust

There have been reports of criminals trying to access people’s homes by impersonating  staff NHS or claiming to be there on behalf of your GP. They may say they are there to test for Coronavirus, but this is a scam. NHS teams are not conducting any door-to-door testing and have no plans at all to do so.

Only allow people into your home who you know and are carrying out essential appointments. This includes those: with caring duties, doing emergency repairs which you know about, friends delivering food, and health, social care and welfare visits from people you recognise.

People knocking on your door to “check the water tank for the virus” and things of that nature are lying. They are using that as an excuse to get into your home and take your bank details from you.

Always check with you landlord whether you are due to have any repairs. For the most part, landlords are only carrying out emergency checks that customers themselves have reported.

If you have any questions you can contact Action Fraud the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre on 0300 123 2040.