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”. So don’t hand over your cash to anybody who turns up on your door step claiming 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.
However, be wary, many scammers pretend to be legitimate businesses or organisations, for example, there are several scams out there at the moment 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.
Stay Safe Online
Don’t lose your money to online con-artists when shopping online.
It can be difficult to spot a fake or scam website. Fraudsters are extremely cunning and good at creating convincing websites. They will play on your emotions or claim to be able to provide you with the products that are in short supply at the moment. For example face masks, hand sanitiser or even toilet rolls!
Stay safe by checking:
The domain name – does it look right, most retail websites should end in .co.uk or .com rather than something like ‘.net’.
Never pay by bank transfer - If you need to get your money back, there is very little you can do for transactions of this type. Pay by credit or debit card, which will give you some rights to get your money back.
Read the reviews – Look for reviews across a range of other websites and social media, to see what people have to say.
False Testing Kits
Please be aware of fraudsters selling fake test kits. The use of products for the diagnosis of coronavirus infection in pharmaciesor at home, is not at present advised by Public Health England.
Nikki Holland, National Crime Agency director of investigations, said: “Illegally selling testing kits completely undermines the nation’s collective response to the pandemic and actually endangers lives."
Fake Phone Calls
Fraudsters will claim to be someone we would normally trust. Like the police, a utility provider or a member of the NHS. To stay safe follow these tips:
- Never transfer money to someone asking you over the phone especially not by bank transfer
- Do not share your bank details, pin number, passwords
- Don’t feel pressured to make a quick response, hang up if you’re suspicious
- If you are getting a lot of nuisance calls, speak to your phone line provider and ask them to block the number.
Beware of emails that urge you to take immediate action or offer cures
By saying you must “act now” or you only have a short amount of time, it forces people to panic and make rash decisions. Close it down and give yourself time to think.
The National Cyber Security Centre has launched an online security campaign and urges the public to report email scams relating to the coronavirus. You can read more on the National Security Centre website.
Stay safe by only speaking to people you know and trust
There have been reports of fraudsters trying to access people’s homes by impersonating a trusted authority, for example on behalf of your GP 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. Including emergency repair staff and health and social care visitors.
Regenda Homes will always book an appointment with you before sending a repair operative out to your property.
If you have any questions you can contact Action Fraud the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre on 0300 123 2040.