Top Tips: Avoiding COVID-19 fraudulent activity and cyber scams
A major event like the coronavirus pandemic can initiate new types of scam activity. You may have already seen reports of fraudulent activity around the sale of face masks and hand sanitiser.
With this in mind, we are urging you, as our valued clients to be vigilant for scams that could appear over the coming months.
Scammers are sophisticated, opportunistic and will try to get personal details or money from victims in a number of ways.
What to look out for?
- You may be asked to provide an upfront fee – usually between £25 and £450 – when applying for a loan or credit that you don’t get.
- ‘Good cause scams’ – this is where investment is sought for good cause linked to the coronavirus outbreak i.e. contributing to a cure – with the promise of high returns form the scammer.
- Scammers may advise you to invest or transfer existing investments.
- Some scammers will pretend to be from firms that are regulated by the FCA i.e. they clone the firm.
- Scammers may contact you claiming to be from a Claims Management Company (CMC), insurance company or your credit card provider. They may say they can help you recuperate your losses by submitting a claim, for the cost of a holiday or something similar that has been cancelled due to coronavirus. They will ask them to send you money or your bank details.
- Cold calls, emails, texts of Whatsapp messages stating that your bank is in trouble due to the coronavirus crisis and pushing you to transfer money to a new bank with alternative banking details.
HMRC is aware of a phishing campaign telling customers they can claim a tax refund to help protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak. Do not reply to the email and do not open any links in the message. HMRC will never send notifications by email about tax rebates or refunds.
- Visit the website
- Open any attachments
- Disclose any personal or payment information
How to protect yourself
- Reject offers that come out of the blue.
- Speak to your Financial Adviser if you are unsure about contact you have received.
- Do not click links or open e-mails from senders that you do not already know.
- Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision.
- Do not give out personal details (bank, address, existing insurance/pension/investment details).
There is further advice on the FCA’s ScamSmart website about how to protect yourself and if you suspect you may have been contacted in what could be a scam, you can make a complaint to the Insolvency Service or call Action Fraud straight away on 0300 123 2040.
We are open for business as usual, our Financial Advisers are available on the phone so please contact us if you have any questions.