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Coronavirus and fraud

Coronavirus scams

As fraudsters spot new opportunities to access your money, information and software during the coronavirus pandemic, here are a few ways we can help you stay safe.

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. 

Courier fraud

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)

Stop, think and act

It’s important to be vigilant, so if you get an unexpected email, text, or call, remember

  • Don’t give your personal information, bank details, usernames, passwords, or PINsentry codes
  • Do your own research before purchasing goods and check online reviews
  • Speak to family or friends if you’re unsure and only contact a company or organisation using details you know are real
  • Don’t click on any links or open any attachments
  • Protect your computer and mobile devices with the most up-to-date security software
  • Don’t transfer money unless you know and trust the person, and have checked that the details are correct and have come from a trusted source
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is

If you get a message that looks relevant to something you’ve bought or a service you use, it’s still best not to reply, but contact the company claiming to have sent it through a different method you’re confident is secure – like a phone number or email address shown on its official website. For banks, you can use the phone number on the back of your card.

What to do with a suspicious message

If you get an email or text that claims to be from us but looks suspicious, please forward it, along with any attachments if possible, to internetsecurity@barclays.com.

You can also forward any suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk. The National Cyber Security Centre will test the validity of the site and will remove it immediately if it’s a phishing scam.

More information 

The government’s website sets out how to protect yourself from fraud and cybercrime.

Visit Barclays Digisafe for more details on how to stay safe from fraud.

Check out our article on fraud and scams that explains how anyone could be vulnerable to scammers.