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Protect Yourself Against Coronavirus Scams

22/05/2020

The world is currently in the midst of a global pandemic that will change the normal daily lives of everyone beyond anything like we’ve seen in over a generation. So, of course, people are going to try and take advantage of this situation for their own benefit.

No, we’re not talking about governments this time. Once again scammers are coming to the forefront.

During the last couple of months, even though it’s been a terribly difficult time, Coronavirus has brought people closer together and made people appreciate what they previously took for granted. Showing a greater amount of appreciation for our NHS and care worker heroes, endless amounts of money being raised for different types of vulnerable people, in a variety of ways and keeping in contact with family members more than you ever have before!

Unfortunately, in tragedies like this, the situation always seems to bring out the worst in others too, which has been seen by the alarming rise in the number of scams looking to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and cash in.

Just like COVID-19, fraudsters don’t discriminate

They don’t care if a married couple or single, young or a pensioner, the most independent of people, or the most vulnerable. If they see something they can take advantage of, they will.

As of the start of April, only a few weeks into the UK lockdown, it was estimated that fraudsters exploited over £1.6 million from preying on people’s fears about the Coronavirus.

Just a little over a few weeks ago, the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) removed more than 2,000 scams connected to COVID-19, including nearly 500 fake online shops selling fraudulent virus-related products.

Lending a hand

High street banks have been taking the fight to the fraudsters though, and thankfully, NatWest have recently highlighted what you need to look out for to stay safe. Check out the video NatWest did on Facebook Live for advice, support and the latest trends on how to protect yourself 👇

If a 30+ minute video is a bit too long for you to listen to, NatWest also laid out 5 scams in particular to keep your open for:

1. Fake Medical Solutions

We’re all waiting for that elusive day when we hear the news of a vaccine is ready to be given to people. But until you hear it announce by WHO or the majority of the mainstream media, it’s probably best to ignore any emails you receive about it.

Messages that are currently being sent out are trying to pull on the heat strings and tap into conspiracy theories, by claiming a cure is being covered up and comes with a link to more information. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK, as it will take you to a page that captures you bank login details.

2. Emails impersonating WHO

Impersonating a worldwide organisation is a standard technique used by fraudsters, but let’s be honest, is the World Health Organisation (WHO) really going to email you about this? No.

These emails will come with links or attachments claiming to provide safety measures, but in actual fact will infect your device (computer, tablet, phone) with malware that monitors your online activity to acquire important information they can use.

3. Coronavirus tax refunds

With millions being placed on furlough, taking wage cuts or even losing jobs, money will obviously be pretty tight for most people right now. Don’t be blindsided by this though. Criminals are now constantly blitzing mailboxes with a barrage of emails claiming you’re entitled to a Coronavirus tax rebate.

As leading experts in all forms of tax claims, we can guarantee HMRC will ever contact you by direct email to discuss any tax refunds, so don’t click or respond!

4. Purchase / donation scams

Looks too good to be true. Then it most likely is! Keep a look out for ads, emails, phone calls and texts about COVID-19. Whether it be free facemasks or testing kits, or donations towards a cure, it’s quite likely to be a scam.

5. Make money quick

Criminals are attempting to entice people into becoming mules by “giving money” to use your bank account to pay money through.

Similar to the advice about not drinking disinfectants, don’t accept any offer of cash to let a criminal, or anyone use your bank account for their activities. The consequences will be just as life changing as Coronavirus and simply not worth it!