What to look out for
Unfortunately, fraudsters are using people’s sense of uncertainty and fear during the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of vulnerable people and businesses.
Their scams and malware campaigns are designed to encourage you to give away sensitive banking and personal information, download malicious files onto your home or office computer, or buy goods and services that don’t exist.
Here’s what you should look out for.
Refunds or payouts from HMRC
Texts and emails impersonating HMRC and the government offer a payout or a refund and ask you to click on a link, which leads to a fake site.
NHS test and trace
The new NHS test and trace service will never ask for your financial details, PINs or passwords. It doesn’t involve a home visit and won’t request you to move money. To be on the safe side, type https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into your browser, rather than click on an email link.
Fake websites selling goods
Fraudsters place adverts on social media for goods at bargain prices – they could be anything from protective masks, clothes, and games consoles to pets.
Campaigns or charities raising money
Fake websites pretend to be raising money for research into cures, or funds for victims, to get donations.
Company payouts or refunds
Posing as legitimate holiday, insurance or entertainment companies, fraudsters could contact you by email, phone or text about a genuine refund that you’re expecting. They might know some of your personal details and will ask you to give them more information or send money.
Seemingly helpful people offer support with shopping for essentials, and ask for your bank card and PIN.
Banks, the police, HMRC and other trusted organisations will never ask you to move money to a ‘safe’ account, or to share your passcodes or PIN.
You should also be cautious of emails that reference
- A link for an app that tracks coronavirus using an interactive map
- NHS goodwill gestures
- Business working conditions or policies
- Information about hospitals in affected areas
- Mortgage repayment holidays or rent relief
- Parcel shipping cancellations
- Money transfer requests for victims trapped abroad
- Services claiming they can diagnose coronavirus
- The World Health Organisation (WHO)