CRIMINALS WILL USE ANY OPPORTUNITY TO TRY TO STEAL YOUR MONEY OR IDENTITY, USING TEXTS, EMAILS, PHONE CALLS, OR BY JUST CALLING AT YOUR DOOR. CORONAVIRUS IS THE LATEST OPPORTUNITY TO DO THIS. Please read these examples and check out the links in the sidebar for further advice and guidance.
Examples of such scams include:
- NEW - fraudsters are phoning claiming to be from NHS Track and Trace - see document Track and Trace Fraud Alert for details of how the new system works and how to avoid scammers. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR A COVID-19 TEST
- due to Coronavirus measures you are to receive a payment, or are being fined for breaking lockdown restrictions
- fake emails claiming to be from health organisations (such as the World Health Organisation), with attached ‘safety advice’ which when clicked downloads malware to infect the device.
- Emails claiming to provide information on how Greece avoided a COVID-19 lockdown have been seen with a link to view the article; which has been confirmed as malicious.
- your Amazon Prime account is changing from £7.99 a month to £79 each quarter. Amazon has confirmed this is a scam.
- you need to renew your TV Licence otherwise you may face a fine.
- claims that the government has introduced a new tax refund programme due to COVID-19 and you are entitled to £179.21. Criminals are spoofing the email address of a genuine UK government brand (email@example.com) to trick recipients.
- your house Council Tax banding may have changed.
- there is a problem with your bank account and you need to take some action to prevent fraud. Banks, Police and other authorities will never ask for your PIN or password. Never agree to hand your cards to a "courier" - for more detail see the Courier Fraud poster in the sidebar.
- your computer has a virus and the caller needs remote access to your computer to fix it.
- raising money for charity or other good causes.
- investments and other offers for making money that sound too good to be true.
- London Capital & Finance (LCF) bondholders should be wary of messages inviting them to discuss compensation about LCF. Check with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme Contact Team.
These messages usually have a link that leads you to genuine looking websites which are intended to steal your bank details. Always treat such correspondence with suspicion and check with someone you trust before responding.
Beware of unexpected callers at your door claiming that:
- they represent the NHS or other authority doing on-site tests for Covid-19
- they have been sent to help people with shopping
- they are from a gas, water or electricity company and need to check for leaks
- you need some roof or other building repairs - use traders who you trust or have used before, alternatively Trading Standards have a Buy With Confidence scheme of approved traders
Using these and similar pretexts, they are trying to gain entry to people's houses and distract them whilst they or an accomplice steals items of value.
Watch this Cold Callers Video video from Trading Standards.
Please help protect our more vulnerable residents by warning them not to allow anyone like that into their homes and to follow official advice (as obtained via www.gov.uk) or via 111
Unexpected Deliveries of Packages by Couriers - If goods are delivered that you have not ordered and are marked with your address you should either refuse to accept the parcel or inform the company that sent it and wait for them to send a courier. Crooks order goods such as iPhones, tablets etc to be sent to someone else's address, wait for them to be delivered, then send someone round to collect it claiming to be from the company that sent it. This is a scam.
Online safety – beware of:
- Fraudulent websites offering an antivirus program to protect users against the Coronavirus (YES - people do fall for this!). Fraudsters trick users into installing malware that could infect the user’s device. Once access has been obtained, the fraudster could act as a legitimate user but use this access to steal data and seek financial gain.
- fake websites and suspicious links. Criminals will advertise products they know to be in short supply, such as hand sanitiser, face masks and ‘treatments’. Claims like ‘100% safe’, ‘No side effects’ and ‘Quick results’ should be warning signs to avoid these.
- sites that look like banks etc. Before signing in to any banking sites or carrying out any financial transactions online check there is a “padlock” in the site address bar.
- free sample offers that take your card details and trick you into signing up for direct debits.
- Romance Fraud - Have they stolen your heart? Make sure they don’t steal anything else – make sure you know how to protect yourself with online dating, see the Romance fraud poster and the BBC article link in the sidebar.
Protect yourself and your device:
- Use strong passwords and keep them safe.
- Ensure you keep your phone/tablet/computer protected by using antivirus and internet security software, and installing the latest system and software/app updates as these often fix security loopholes. Always use a verified trusted source for software updates and turn on automatic updates.
- Turn on 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) to log into online accounts where possible. This is a way to double check the identity of a person when logging in e.g. by sending a security code to a mobile phone. Cyber criminals in possession of a password can’t access the account unless they have this "second factor".
- When shopping or banking online, always check that the address bar shows ‘https’ and log out when done. The padlock sign means that the connection is encrypted, so personal information will reach the site without anyone else being able to read it. Use a credit card, as most major providers insure online purchases.
- Form filling: There are details that an online store will need, such as address and bank details, be cautious if they ask for details not required for purchases. Only fill in the mandatory details on forms (usually marked with an asterisk).
- Get Safe Online is a public / private sector partnership supported by HM Government and leading organisations in banking, retail, internet security and other sectors. Click on the link to get access to a wealth of detailed information on how to protect yourself and your electronic devices.
More detailed information and advice is available in the links in the sidebar.
If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please call Essex Police on 101.
You can also report fraud or attempted fraud by clicking on Action Fraud or calling 0300 123 2040.