Stay alert – useful information on the latest fraud and scams
Many of us are spending more time online; home schooling, shopping, gaming, and video calling with friends and family. It’s important to make sure that you are doing this securely to protect yourself from cybercrime, as fraudsters are still doing everything they can to capitalise on the uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below are a number of current fraud scams to watch out for, how the coronavirus crisis is encouraging these scams and what to do to protect yourself. It is vital to notify the Bank immediately if you feel that that you may have become a victim of fraud or a scam.
Broadband provider scam calls - Fraudsters are known to make calls claiming to work for telecom providers e.g. BT. They may ask you for personal information, want access to your computer and in some cases, ask for your bank details. Don't be fooled, this is fraud.
If you receive an unsolicited phone call asking for personal or financial information or access to your computer, there is high probability that this is a Scam.
Telecom providers will never call out of the blue and:
- Tell you that your service has been hacked
- Try to remotely take control of your device
- Tell you they’ve found a problem with your computer
- Ask you for an urgent payment and threaten to disconnect your service
- Ask for payment details to activate Caller Display, Call Protect or any free service.
What do I do if you receive a scam call?
- Stay calm and don’t give out any information
- Do not click on any links provided by email however genuine they may look
- Never provide remote access to your device
- If you don’t give out your personal or payment details, a fraudster can’t access your bank or telecom account, so if you’re not sure, just put down the phone
- Call the provider using a contact number gained from their official website, if there is a need to do so.
HMRC Scams – You will never receive an email, text message or phone call from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which tells you about a tax rebate or penalty or asks for your personal or payment information.
HMRC may ask you to log in to your Gateway account to view a message but they will never ask you to click a link or an email.
You can report any scam suspicions to HMRC’s phishing team - firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media - Fraudsters are scrutinising social media profiles and posts to build up enough information on victims to potentially access financial accounts. So, it’s vital to check the privacy settings of all social media accounts and be aware of where the information contained in posts could end up, especially if your accounts are open to the public. Never publicly post sensitive information via social media.
Currently there are a number of fake quizzes and surveys on social media that claim to give vital facts about COVID-19. Their links have been set up to collect sensitive information from victims that could be used to gain access to financial accounts or to apply for credit, bank accounts or insurance.
Clicking on these links could also trigger the share feature to your social media connections such as friends and family or group chat contacts. This means the scam continues to grow.
Scam emails - Cyber criminals are preying on fears of the coronavirus pandemic and sending scam emails that try to trick people into clicking through to fraudulent websites.
You may have received an email that claims to have a ‘cure’ for the virus or encourages you to donate. Like many scams, these emails are preying on real-world concerns and trying to trick you into clicking on a link. Avoid clicking on links in emails from people or organisations you don’t know, or on links from emails that generally look suspicious.
If you receive an email that you’re not quite sure about, you can forward it to the UK National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) Suspicious Email Reporting Service at email@example.com.
If anything is found to be malicious, the NCSC will take it down and you will have helped to protect others from falling victim to scams.
General investment scams – Fraudsters will make contact about a great opportunity to make quick financial returns. These investments are a little out of the ordinary, for example in hotels, or wine, or precious metals for example, or in cryptocurrency. Recently there have also been reports of ‘Coronavirus bonds’ or ‘Covid-19 Investment funds’.
Fraudsters will make contact claiming to be from the Government or Bank of England offering a great interest rate and a guaranteed pay out further down the line.
Always check the ‘FCA Scam Smart’ website on https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart before making any investments.
Fake charity fraud – Fraudsters will send out a fake call, email, text or WhatsApp message apparently from a charity, asking for a donation to help support those most in need at this difficult time. Some of the correspondence will ask for a general donation, while others want the victim to purchase something specific such as a food parcel for people isolating at home.
Unfortunately, mixed in with genuine appeals are ‘charities’ that are just fronts for criminals to line their pockets.
Always check if a charity is genuine by using the Charity Commission’s website - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission
Door step fraud - There have been a number of industry reports of fraudsters posing as NHS staff selling fake COVID-19 tests that are both ineffective and dangerous, as they give meaningless diagnosis and can stop the victim seeking medical attention.
Always remain suspicious of random or unexpected visits and always ask for ID – check it is genuine by always calling the company the visitor claims to be from.
A number of utility companies encourage customers to set up passwords that can be utilised for home visits.
Never allow unexpected visitors in to the home. NHS volunteers are advised not to enter people’s homes. It is right to be both assertive and suspicious and if the visitor refuses to leave, then the Police should be called.
- Cynergy Bank would never ask you for your PIN, password or passcode and would never ask you to move your money out of your account(s).
- For official updates, information and advice about Coronavirus, please visit the official Government website, www.gov.uk and only visit known and reputable news websites for the latest news on the pandemic.
- If you receive an email including a link or attachment that offers advice or a remedy for coronavirus, there is a good possibility that it will be a fraudulent scam.
- If you are suspicious, hang up the phone, delete the email or text message and never click on links or attachments in emails or text messages which offer unsolicited refunds or money.
- Instead of clicking on website links, you can copy and paste website addresses into your internet search bar or you can search the organisation on a search engine like Google*.
For more information on staying safe online you can visit the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) website which details how to spot suspicious email and defend yourself against Malware on https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/cyber-experts-step-criminals-exploit-coronavirus
If you believe that you have become a victim of fraud you should contact us immediately on 0345 850 5555 during business hours. For out of hours fraud contact details, please visit our website at the following address, https://www.cynergybank.co.uk/security/worried-about-fraud/.
*The full website address of each website referred to in this update has been given so you can copy and paste the site into your search bar.