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Cybercrime and fraud

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a noticeable increase in cybercrime and fraud.

The way in which we are living our lives has changed significantly, we are communicating with one another in new and different ways, and we are engaged with agencies and organisations which we may not have been before.

For these reasons, it is important to be vigilant, especially where personal and/or financial information is being shared, to ensure that you don’t become a victim of a scam.

Scams can come in many forms and look more sophisticated than ever making it difficult to distinguish the genuine from the fake.

Below are some examples of scams which we are aware of and which you should look out for.

Phishing emails

COVID-19 themed phishing emails containing links and attachments attempting to trick people into divulging personal information including financial information.

HMRC

Emails purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details.

Assistance with funding in the absence of school meals

Targeting families with phishing emails offering financial support to parents and carers by clicking on a link to fraudulent website and requesting bank details.

ASDA/Tesco - Sterile Delivery

Offering ASDA/Tesco sterile delivery plus gift cards if users click on a link to register their credit card.

‘The sneeze of death/pandemic survival’

Details unpleasantries of COVID-19 and plays on people’s fears and hopes. People who are searching for answers and information are encouraged to click dangerous links.

Newsletters and update

Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.

Trading advice and investment opportunities

Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn. They are scamming people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.

Text messages

There has also been an increase in fraudulent text messages, one in particular purporting to be from GOV.UK. Any text message containing a link should be treated with caution. The best way to find information from GOV.UK, or any other agency, is to visit that particular website via a trusted source and not clicking on links in unsolicited texts or emails.

 


 

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • If you are buying goods online from a company or person you don’t know and trust, do your research before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
  • Protect your devices from the latest threats by installing the latest software and app updates.
  • Report cybercrime and fraud to ‘Action Fraud’ using their online reporting portal and contact your bank if you think you’ve fallen for scam.

 


 

Information and resources

 

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