The past few weeks has seen Coronavirus take over not only the headlines, but also our daily lives. From watching the Prime Minister’s daily briefings through to making changes to our habits and activities, our normal lives have become temporarily suspended as we focus on the health and welfare of our friends and families.
Unfortunately, this may lead some people to let their guard down around other areas, leaving the opportunity for scammers and fraudsters to take advantage.
Indeed, reports of Coronavirus related scams are already emerging. Scammers are now praying on the public’s worry, targeting victims using a wide variety of methods including emails, text messages, social media posts, online advertisements and phone calls.
Here are some tips of what to watch out for:
In their desperation to get hold of protective items or cleaning products, people are being caught out by ordering items such as face masks, hand gel and cleaning staples from fake companies, paying to purchase items that never arrive. Be mindful of any emails you receive offering the sale of these goods and only buy from trusted websites you have shopped from previously.
Most people would normally be wary of doorsteppers, but the techniques being used in the light of the Coronavirus crisis are catching people out. Scams include people knocking on doors claiming to be from the health services to offer tests and vaccines for Covid-19, through to people volunteering to go and buy essentials and never returning with the goods. You should exercise the same level of caution you would normally, never handing over cash or bank details to anyone unknown who knocks on your door.
Many of us will have had holidays planned and unfortunately cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. As a result, there are a number of scams circulating regarding applying for refunds or compensation. Do not give your credit card or bank details either over the phone or by email. Many companies should be able to issue a refund automatically to your original payment method. If in doubt, call the company you booked with directly on the phone number you know to be correct, ie. on the original booking confirmation email.
It is true that many people are suffering in different ways as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and those of us with a generous nature may want to try and help. Beware of emails from supposed health organisations, such as the WHO, asking for donations to help with research. Anything of this nature is unlikely to be genuine.
If you are keen to help, get in touch with a charity by visiting their website or ringing them directly. Never click links in emails or in online advertisements as these could take you to fake websites that are being operated by fraudsters.
Offers of one-off payments
There have been reports of scams that are asking people to enter their postcode and bank/card details in order to receive a one-off payment from the government. There is no such scheme currently available, so do not be tempted to submit any of your details.
• Never give your bank details over the phone – even your bank will never ask for these.
• At this time, we should be strictly limiting our social contact to those we live with. But in the event that you need to, only allow neighbours, friends, family members or known health professionals into your home.
• Remember that fraudsters do this for a living and can be extremely convincing. No-one is immune to the tricks of scammers and even some of our savviest clients have been caught out over the years. In these times of uncertainty especially, please take further care and pay extra attention.
If you are unsure about any email, phone call or contact you receive, please feel free to send it on to us for advice. It may be helpful to familiarise yourself with our team, so you can be sure you are speaking to someone trustworthy.