Covid-19 scam alerts: Criminals using texts and emails to target consumers
UK Finance is warning consumers to be on the lookout for “smishing” text message scams from criminals exploiting the coronavirus outbreak. You should be careful of any texts and emails impersonating the Government, the World Health Organisation (WHO), HMRC and other organisations.
What does ‘smishing’ and ‘phishing’ mean?
I have provided a quick guide to the terms ‘smishing’ and ‘phishing’, which I will discuss in my article.
Smishingis when criminals use text messages to impersonate other organisations. Tricking people into giving away their personal and financial information or money. These scam texts often claim to be from government departments, banks or other trusted organisations. Offering payments related to the coronavirus outbreak or claiming to be issuing fines.
Phishing is when fraudulent emails are sent to impersonate reputable companies. In order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
What is spoofing?
Often scam messages will include a link to a fake website designed to trick people into giving away their financial and personal information, such as bank details, passwords and credit card numbers.
Cyber-criminals are also using a technique called “spoofing”. This can make a message appear in a chain of texts alongside previous genuine messages from that organisation. The banking industry continues to work closely with mobile network operators, government and other industry stakeholders to crack down on this type of fraud. You may have seen emails supposedly from Netflix, HMRC and other organisations, which are SCAMS.
UK Finance urges consumers to avoid clicking on any links contained within text messages. As well as to always log in to their bank account to update their information or make any legitimate payments. Customers can report suspected spam text texts to their mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, said:
“Criminals are callously exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to commit fraud, including using scam text messages imitating government departments, banks and other trusted organisations.
“We are urging consumers to remain vigilant and avoid clicking on links in any unsolicited text messages in case it’s a scam.
“It’s always safer to log into your bank account directly or contact the organisation on a trusted number or email such as the one on their official website.
“Always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information. If you receive a suspicious text message, report it to your network provider by forwarding it to 7726.”
Take Five to Stop Fraud
Consumers are reminded to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. As well as to remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.
Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
Wash your hands of coronavirus scams
I spotted this on Twitter today and wanted to include it in this article. Please keep informed about COVID-ID watching the daily news updates. National Trading Standards also has a Scams Team and phone numbers are included above.
CTSI issues warning over COVID-19 ‘home-testing’ scams
It’s disgusting that anyone could take advantage of other people in these worrying times. £1 million fraud has been reported in the UK relating to the COVID-ID virus already.
The alert comes as part of the CTSI’s ongoing advice to the public about scams and rogue practices relating to the spread of the disease.
Suspicious callers are said to have been knocking on doors of elderly and vulnerable residents in various parts of the UK, saying that they are health officials doing door-to-door testing.
Katherine Hart, CTSI Joint Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime, said: “There are unfortunately people who are willing to take advantage of those who are most vulnerable even at this unprecedented time when we should all be pulling together.
“Those who have been advised to avoid social contact as part of the measures to help stop the spread of the virus are particularly at risk of being taken in by these cold callers.
“Our message is not to open the door to anyone you don’t know or anyone calling ‘out of the blue’. Stay safe by only speaking to people you know and trust.”
Guide to reporting
Action Fraud is the body you need to report any malicious emails, calls, texts or people coming to the door.
You can report fraud or cybercrime to Action Fraud at any time of the day or night using their online reporting tool. Reporting online is quick and easy. The tool will guide you through simple questions to identify what has happened. Action Fraud Advisors are available twenty-four hours to give you help and advice if you need it.
When reporting online you will be given the option to register, log in to an existing account or continue as a guest.
By registering you will be able to:
Save and resume a partially completed report
Track progress of your report
Add information to your report
Call us to discuss your report
Receive an update by email
If you continue as a guest you will only be able to receive updates by email or post.
You can also report to us by calling 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm. If you are calling from abroad please call +44 300 123 2040.
UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 250 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.
There are no vaccines and people will not be going around houses testing people.
Please keep an eye on elderly people in your community who may be targeted and are more vulnerable.
No bank will ask you to transfer money between your account into a new one to safeguard your money
HMRC calls can be really aggressive and convincing as I found out! Again HMRC will not call you to pay for a fine or amount over the phone.
Netflix, Banking and other emails can be very convincing. Check the sent email address and also do not respond directly to these emails or click on these phishing emails
No-one from the NHS or government will be going around testing individuals knocking on doors.