How to avoid COVID-19 scams

It can be difficult to believe that some people out there would use the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to commit fraud. Sadly, it happens. Fraudsters all over the world have been using the situation for financial gain, so we wanted to let you know what you should keep an eye out for. 

How to avoid COVID-19 scams

Scam emails and automated phone calls

There have been widespread reports of fraudsters sending a phishing email campaign telling customers they’re entitled to a tax refund to help them during the coronavirus outbreak. 

You might also receive automated phone calls which tell you that HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you and that you should speak to a caseworker to make a payment. 

If you receive either of the above, then you should stop contact immediately. 

If you have any doubt about whether the contact is legitimate, look for the correct phone number of an official website and call them back. Never click on links or attachments in suspicious emails and certainly never give your financial information over the telephone. 


False advertising, fake website and phoney goods

Since we’ve been strongly advised by the Government to follow stringent social distancing measures, many of us have been unable to fulfil our shopping habits in retail stores. Those running businesses have felt an increasing pressure to meet customer demand, particularly when self-isolation measures have impacted the supply chain. 

There are lots of fraudsters out there who are creating false advertising campaigns and websites, claiming to be able to supply a whole host of in-demand goods. Things like toilet roll, hand sanitiser and cleaning products are all things you might see available, but you should be careful with the suppliers you use. 

Whether your buying goods for yourself or your business, make sure you think carefully when you’re looking at new suppliers. Where possible, try to stick to people you know are reliable or who have been recommended to you. 


Be extra vigilant 

This is a difficult and uncertain time for many of us, particularly in the self-employed community. The financial uncertainty that the next few weeks presents is naturally making people nervous. It’s essential to think carefully about any measures that promise to help your finances – They may do to the opposite if you’re caught by fraud. 

Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: 

“Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people in a variety of ways, and this is only likely to increase. We need individuals and businesses to be fully aware and prepared.

“There is a wealth of advice available from dedicated counter fraud professionals, but in general, you should always think very carefully before you hand over your money or your personal details.

“We are working together across law enforcement, government and the private sector to combat this criminal activity and protect the public. If you think you have fallen for a scam contact your bank immediately and please report to Action Fraud.”


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16 June 2020

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