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.
KEY MESSAGES TO PROTECT YOU FROM FRAUD:
- Never "CLICK HERE" on an unsolicited email or text message.
- Never "Press 1" to find our more or rectify a supposed account issue during an unsolicited phone call or from a text received from an unknown source.
- Make sure your Email password is unique and secure, and is not used for any other purpose.
- Never allow an unsolicited caller to have remote access to your computer or other device, they will try to convince you that you have a fault or there is a problem with your account.
On this page:
1. Latest scam updates from Essex Police and other sources - August 2021
2. COVID-19 Related scams
3. Courier and Delivery scams
4. Phone and Internet service scams
5. Bank and other account scams
6. TV & Vehicle Licence scams
7. Buying Goods/Tickets Online, and Investment scams
8. Other scams
9. Online Safety advice
10. Protecting yourself and your device
11. Reporting Fraud
1. LATEST SCAM UPDATES Sept 2021
- ASDA GIFT CARD SCAM - if you receive an unsolicited email asking you to click on a link and complete a survey in return for a £100 Promotional Gift Card, it is a scam. The link will simply take you to a website where scammers will steal your personal data and then use it to take out financial products or purchase goods using your data, with you ending up with an unexpected debt. If you receive an email like this, then please forward to email@example.com.
- Essex Police are warning residents to beware of pickpockets working across the South East of England, who are targeting men wearing expensive wrist watches. Read Expensive Watch Thefts for details and what to look out for.
- Scammers are charging people for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is available free of charge. This card has replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For more information read Travel and Health Insurance Scams from Essex Police.
- Essex Trading Standards are warning residents of companies attempting to sell unnecessary insurance, warranty or care packages following a dramatic rise in cases. The products aren’t regulated or underwritten, often with restrictive terms and high excesses, and once bank or card details are obtained then the householder can find additional or higher payments taken. See Insurance scams for full details.
- Citizens Advice Tendring has produced this Scams Awareness Campaign June 2021 document after research has found that 72% of people in the East of England have been targeted by a scammer since January. The document has a lot of useful advice on spotting and avoiding scams.
- For detailed information on the impact of many scams on this page read UK Finance - Fraud The Facts.
- Email and social media account hacking is on the increase - make sure your passwords are strong and use a different password for each account. See the advice at item 10 further down this page.
- Fake National Insurance Calls are doing the rounds, saying your National Insurance number is being used for fraudulent purposes and asking you to press 1. This is similar to other unsolicited scam calls so DO NOT PRESS 1. Consider setting up a Call Blocking Service to prevent nuisance calls. Also register with the Telephone Preference Service to reduce such calls.
2. COVID-19 RELATED SCAMS
- Emails – which carry the NHS logo – are being sent out asking for payment in return for a ‘Coronavirus Digital Passport’ to prove that someone has been vaccinated. See details at Covid passport scam.
- Be aware of criminals trying to trick you into paying for a COVID-19 test or vaccination - see: COVID-19 Vaccine Fraud. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR A COVID-19 TEST OR VACCINATION
- Calls 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.
- 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.
- Claims that the government has introduced a new tax refund programme due to COVID-19 and you are entitled to a sum of money. Criminals are spoofing the email address of a genuine UK government brand (firstname.lastname@example.org) to trick recipients.
- Beware of unexpected callers at your door claiming that they represent the NHS or other authority doing on-site tests for Covid-19, or they have been sent to help you with your shopping.
3. COURIER AND DELIVERY SCAMS
- Beware of emails or texts supposedly from Royal Mail, DPD or other couriers claiming a parcel could not be delivered. Don't be tricked into following the link in these fraudulent messages and providing your personal details or paying for "re-delivery". Ignore these messages and check the status of a delivery using a trusted number or use the delivery company’s official website.
- A DHL delivery scam asks you to download a parcel tracking app. Do not do this as it installs spyware that will steal your passwords. See Flubot fraud alert from Essex Police for more information and what to do if you have installed the rogue app. Whilst this primarily affects Android users and uses DHL this could find its way onto other devices in future.
- 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.
Read full details here:
See also the Courier Fraud poster in the sidebar.
Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for this type of scam and report to Action Fraud (see item 11 below).
4. PHONE SERVICE AND INTERNET SERVICE SCAMS
- Cold callers claiming to be from mobile phone companies are tricking people into revealing log in credentials and bank details, and paying for fictitious early mobile phone upgrades. Read the Essex Police alert Mobile phone upgrade scam for more details.
- Beware of calls claiming your internet or phone service is going to be cut off unless you pay to continue the service - these are scams. Read the December 2020 Essex Police notice regarding fake calls claiming to be from BT about internet problems.
- Calls claiming your computer has a virus and the caller needs remote access to your computer to fix it. DO NO ALLOW THIS as scammers are after your personal and financial details, and ultimately your money.
5. BANK & OTHER ACCOUNT SCAMS
- Claims that 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 phone and ask for your PIN or password. Hang up and use a different phone to call your bank on the number on your card to check. Never agree to hand your cards to a "courier" - for more detail see the Courier Fraud poster in the sidebar.
- Claims that your Amazon Prime account fees are changing, or your account is being suspended, or needs to be renewed. More recent scams claim that an account was opened fraudulently and you need to give remote access to your computer, or to provide bank details so you can be refunded.
6. TV & VEHICLE LICENCE SCAMS
- Fraudsters are exploiting the confusion around TV licence fee charging for older people. No one will be expected to pay for a new licence until they are contacted by letter from TV Licensing.
- Scammers are trying to trick people into providing copies of driving licences or passports to prove your identity. Be wary of any unsolicited callers asking for these types of documents. This is linked to the HMRC, NI number and computer fault scams. See Personal Documents Scam for details.
- Beware of bogus emails supposedly from DVLA citing issues with vehicle tax payment details, trying to get you to supply banking details. See DVLA phishing scam from Essex Police.
7. BUYING GOODS/TICKETS ONLINE, and INVESTMENT SCAMS
- Beware when buying goods online, particularly if buying from a private seller, and investment or other offers for making money that sound too good to be true - they usually are! Cryptocurrency should be viewed as an investment and not a purchase due to its volatile nature - its value can fluctuate by up to 40% in one month. Common scams can involve celebrity endorsement or a “get rich quick” opportunity.
- See Ticket scams and take extra care when buying tickets for festivals and events online, as figures reveal almost £1 million has been lost to ticket fraud so far this year. Pass on this advice to younger family members and friends as most victims are aged between 20 and 49, losing an average £850 each.
- Take extra care when buying a pet online, as new figures show more than £2.5 million has been lost to criminals through fake pet adverts. For full details read the Pet scams update from Essex Police.
- Romance seekers have lost over £15 million due to bogus investment opportunities through online dating scams.
Read the following before thinking of getting involved:
- Buying online advice from Essex Police.
- Cryptocurrency scams
- Investment scams
- Bitcoin and Investment Scams
- Instagram Investment scams
- London Capital & Finance (LCF) bondholders should be wary of messages inviting them to discuss compensation about LCF. 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 or check with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme Contact Team.
8. WATCH FOR THESE OTHER SCAMS
- Phone calls from numbers that look familiar - the number can be modified by the scammer to appear to come from someone you know or a bank, government organisation etc. The calls impersonate well-known government organisations, or law enforcement agencies, and will ask the recipient of the call to “press 1” in order to speak with an advisor, or police officer, about unpaid fines or police warrants. See Phone number spoofing and MATCHING PHONE NUMBERS SCAM for more details.
- Similarly, e-mail addresses can be modified to mask the real email address, see Identify Email Spoofing for advice on how to spot this.
- Various emails and text messages have been received, stating that there is missing information on the census submission and failure to correct this could result in a large fine. See CENSUS Scams from Essex Police for details. Remember - you will never be issued with a fine by text message, phone call, email, or on social media and you will not be fined for a mistake on your census.
- Holiday Bookings. Timely reminder from Essex Police - read Holiday Bookings Fraud for tips to save being conned. Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated by either impersonating travel companies and flight comparison websites or advertising fake accommodation on legitimate sites. £2.2m was lost to holiday fraud last year - an average of £1,242 per victim.
- Take care when responding to social media games and quizzes, some of these are designed to trick you into giving out information that could help criminals steal your identity or guess your passwords - see Social Media Games and Quiz Advice from Essex Police.
- Beware when downloading apps from both Apple and Google app stores that offer free trials then charge you exorbitant fees unless you cancel your subscription properly. See this update from Essex Police entitled Fleeceware, the new term coined for this scam.
- There has been a recent increase in rogue traders mis-selling solar panels and associated maintenance contracts/warranties/battery replacements etc. See Solar panel scam for details.
- See the first (April 2021) edition of Essex Police new publication on organised crime, concentrating on Catalytic converters theft and how to guard against it.
- "Sextortion" emails citing a password you have used (usually an old one) and trying to get money by saying they know you have been viewing adult sites. Do not pay any money over, see this Which? article about this scam and How to respond.
- Romance Fraud - if you are tempted to use online dating sites be sure to read the new Romance Fraud Booklet produced by Essex Police, full of advice on how to stay safe from romance fraudsters. See also Romance Frauds, the Romance fraud poster and the BBC article link on this page.
- See Recruitment Scams, pass on to family and friends who may be looking for a job.
- Callers allegedly raising money for charity or other good causes.
- Claims that your Council Tax banding may have changed and you are due a refund.
- Callers claiming they are from a gas, water or electricity company and need to check for leaks.
- Callers claiming 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, cold callers 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 by phoning 111.
9. 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 and it begins with 'https'.
- Free sample offers that take your card details and trick you into signing up for direct debits.
- See also Hacking Prevention for tips from Essex Police to keep you safe online.
10. PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR DEVICE:
- Use strong passwords and keep them safe. Never use the same password on another account. You can visit the "haveIbeenpwned" web site to check Is my password safe to use? and if not you should change it immediately. Consider using a Password Manager to help you manage your passwords and they can check that you have sufficiently strong passwords.
- 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.
11. REPORTING FRAUD.
- 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.
- You can report suspicious phishing emails to the National Cyber Security Centre Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) by email to: email@example.com. Action will be taken to investigate and block or remove these from circulation.