Due to recent lock down rules more and more people are getting targeted by scammers in an attempt take their money and/or private information, there are a few things people can do to protect themselves.
If you’ve lost key documents and other personal items through a scam (such as bank cards, official papers, etc), acting quickly can help prevent further loss. Victim Support have a checklist of things to look out for and some simple steps you can take to help get things back under control.
Victim Support website
People also need to do checks on the websites they are purchasing from, this will also show if a company is legitimate and the funds are not going into a fraudsters bank account.
Some of these checks are:-
- Make sure the website address is https://websitename or a padlock is shown and NOT http://websitename, https or the padlock means the website is secure
- Check if the organisation is register (this can be checked - UK Companies House)
- Check if the company have been trading a number of years and that they have submitted correct accounts, if just register or the correct accounts are not submitted then this should make visitors wary about purchasing from the website.
- Payment options on the website, you should NEVER only have the option to purchase by Bank Transfer, if the only payment option is Bank Transfer then again be wary about purchasing from the website. If you do need to make a payment this way then check it is NOT a personal bank account, organisations should have a Business Bank account with a Business Name and a customer should NEVER pay by Bank Transfer unless this is the option selected. If needed go into the Bank and ask to transfer, they can tell you if it is a Business Bank Account or Personal Bank Account.
- If possible always pay for products through a reputable payment gateway on a website, there are plenty to use, Paypal, 2Checkout etc. This will allow the customer to be protected more then using a Bank Transfer. If the company insist you use Bank Transfer then this is something to be wary about.
Some of the ways people may be able to gain personal information is from second hand devices such as Smartphone, Tablets, Laptops etc. If you are going to sell your electronic items then make sure all personal data is removed and "restore to factory settings", this will erase all data. Running "restore to factory setting" multiple times will make sure all data is wiped.
Never pay for any item with Amazon Gift cards, and never login to an account by clicking a link on an email. This is one way fraudsters get your information. Even though the link on the email looks legitimate it may be a fraudster trying to gain access to your account which may hold your bank details.
If you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message out of the blue purporting to be from the government, HMRC, World Health Organisation (WHO) or a charity about coronavirus, then take a moment to think before you before part with any money or information. Never click on any links or download attachments as fraudsters will try to get victims to download malware or enter their personal details into fake websites which can be used to steal your identity.
If you receive a call offering protective face masks, hand sanitiser, testing kits, medicine, etc. be aware that they may not always be legitimate. If you do receive a call, don’t be afraid to hang up and research the company first. We have also been notified about a large number of victims ordering goods over the phone or online, offering up their bank details, and items never arriving.
Anxiety surrounding the coronavirus may lead people to rush into decisions without thinking rationally. It is important if you are ever contacted and asked for personal and/or financial information to STOP, Take Five, and think critically about what you are doing.
With many holidays being affected as a result of COVID-19 there will inevitably be an increase in scams offering refunds or re-bookings. If you receive a call or email from someone purporting to be from a travel company or airline offering anything holiday related be very cautious. The best thing to do is contact the party you booked your holiday with directly.
The Job Retention Scheme has launched and fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of this with a subsequent rise in business owners targeted by phishing emails purporting to be from the HMRC. The emails attempt to seem legitimate by spoofing email addresses and using official sounding subject lines. The emails ask for bank account details of recipient and can include spelling and grammar mistakes. Always make sure emails requesting financial information are legitimate and from a trusted sender before you take action.
CIFIS Fraud Prevention website