Online fraud covers a variety of incidents – including online banking, auction websites, identity theft and online shopping to name just a few.
It is often very easy for some people to forget that they are not dealing face to face with someone and believe what they see to be true, without reservation, or the sort of caution you might apply in dealing with someone face to face.
Action Fraud have produced some very useful steps which you can take in order to prevent yourself becoming a victim of fraud or cyber crime. You can view these on their website (opens in a new tab)
Victim Support have produced a leaflet offering guidance to help keep organisations and the people they support safe. You can download it as a pdf here: Scammers and Fraudsters .
Action Fraud have seen a number of different scams circulating relating to Covid-19. This includes people falling victim to online shopping scams, believing they are purchasing protective face masks or hand sanitiser, that actually, do not exist. Criminals are also using Government branding to try to trick people, including using HMRC branding to make spurious offers of financial support through unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages.
Smishing is a combination of “SMS” (short message services, better known as texting) and “phishing.” When cybercriminals “phish,” they send fraudulent emails that seek to trick the recipient into opening a malware-laden attachment or clicking on a malicious link. Smishing simply uses text messages instead of email.
The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.
Criminals are able to use spoofing technology to send texts and emails impersonating organisations that you know and trust. Anyone who receives an unexpected text or email asking for personal or financial details not click on the links or attachments, and don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
COVID-19 Testing/treatment kits
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), some manufacturers are selling products for the diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in community settings, such as pharmacies.
The current view of Public Health England (opens in a new tab) is that use of these products is not advised.
MHRA can confirm that there are no CE-marked tests for home use, and it is illegal to supply such products.
Universal Credit scam
Cyber criminals and fraudsters are despicably attempting to exploit opportunities around coronavirus. DWP will never text or email asking for your personal information or bank details. Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should report it to Action Fraud, and notify DWP, as soon as possible
Beware of scam COVID-19 ‘refund’ messages. Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599. You can find guidance on recognising bogus or phishing emails and texts here (opens in a new tab)