Throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, fraudsters have attempted to play on people’s fears in an attempt to trick them out of their hard-earned cash.
Now UK Finance, the trade body for the British banking sector, has issued a list of the most common scams to help people identify them.
The ten scams to be wary of include:
1. Fake government emails– Emails that pertain to be from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. These often contain links that steal personal and financial information.
2. Financial relief emails– These often offer “Covid-19 relief funds”, which encourage people to hand over sensitive personal information.
3. Council tax reduction– These emails, offering support with council tax payments, contain links that lead to a fake government website that harvests personal and financial information.
4. Benefits scam– This scam offers help applying for universal credit, however, they allow fraudsters to grab some of the payment as an advance for their ‘services’.
5. Track and trace– Fraudsters are sending communications which suggest that a victim has been in contact with someone that has COVID-19. These will often include links to a fake website that contains viruses or attempts to steal information.
6. PPE scam– These sites and emails often offer ‘bargain’ price PPE, such as hand sanitizer or face masks. However, once payment is made no goods are sent and the victim is often unable to contact the seller.
7. Fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing– Many victims of this scam are told they are eligible for a six month TV licence for free because of the pandemic. They are then told there is an issue with their direct debit and they are asked to provide important financial information, such as their bank details.
8. TV subscription services– Fraudsters are posing as representatives for TV and streaming services, such as Sky. They often ask for payment details to reinstate services by clicking on a link, which is then used to steal credit card information.
9. Social media scams– Scammers are using social media to manipulate victims into handing over money. Often criminals will use identities of real people to ask for ‘support and financial help’.
10. Fake investment opportunities– Often advertised on social media sites, they encourage victims to “take advantage of the financial downturn”. This is particularly prevalent for cryptocurrency platforms, where less sophisticated investors are easily caught out.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “During this pandemic, we have seen criminals using sophisticated methods to callously exploit people’s financial concerns to trick them into giving away their money or information.”
The trade body is encouraging people to stay alert and avoid falling for sophisticated schemes by seeking advice from a friend, family member or trusted adviser.
The list of scams has been published as local councils report a 40 per cent increase in reported scams since the start of lockdown and Citizens Advice estimates that one in three people have been targeted by a scammer during the pandemic.