Charities at increased risk of cybercrime amid coronavirus pandemic, warns Charity Commission

Charitable organisations are at an increased risk of cybercrime and fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, a regulator has warned.

According to the Charity Commission, fraudsters are “exploiting” the spread of the virus to carry out fraud, such as taking advantage of remote working and compromised security systems.

The warning comes after the police reported an increase in coronavirus-relates scams, such as procurement, mandate and CEO fraud, as well as phishing and other common communications scams.

Examples include the sale of substandard or non-existent personal protection equipment (PPE), such as face masks and gloves, or spoof communications asking to make changes to bank details or make payments to a new account – known as mandate or chief executive officer fraud.

Commenting on the increased risk of such crimes, the Charity Commission urged trustees to “carry out due diligence if you’re making a purchase on behalf of your charity from a company or person you do not know”, as well as “follow your charity’s validation procedures and check the authenticity of such messages before making any payments or actioning banking changes”.

As part of the warning, the regulator has issued new guidance to trustees to raise awareness of such crimes, including how to spot them, report them, and educate staff on the risks of cybercrime. This might include installing the latest software and app updates to protect your devices and the personal data of staff, donors and beneficiaries.

“All charities, but especially those providing services and supporting local communities during the coronavirus crisis, could be targeted by fraudsters,” said the regulator.

“We are issuing this alert to help charities minimise the risk of becoming a victim of such frauds and cyber-attacks.”

Access the latest guidance here.

For help and advice, please get in touch with our expert charity finance team today.

Posted in Blog, Covid-19.