Coronavirus: How To Avoid Scams
Phishing emails often have web addresses embedded in the email and the consumer is asked to click on this link which can take them to a fake website.
At the moment, there are fake websites offering health advice and are asking for email addresses, personal information, sort code and account details and passwords. These types of emails can be from scammers pretending to be from world health organisations and may try and persuade you to buy protective items and may imply a sense of urgency to reply.
Examples of phishing texts:
- There are also fake emails pretending to be from the official UK government offering advice on coronavirus, free payments for those in financial need, tax rebates from HMRC as well fake emails from Education bodies offering free school dinner vouchers.
- Again, the scammers want your email address, personal information, sort code and account number details and passwords. The official UK government’s website address ends with ‘gov.uk’ and official government and public body organisations’ website addresses end with ‘org.uk’. The official National Health Service (NHS) website ends with ‘NHS.uk’.
- Be aware of SMS messages offering the same type of advice/COVID-19 free testing/free payments/tax rebates/DLVA refunds or free school dinner vouchers.
- Consumers are now receiving fake text messages from scammers pretending to be from law enforcement bodies informing them that they are being issued with a fine for leaving the house during the lockdown period. This is a new scam and the scammers are trying to intimate consumers to pay this fine and reply along with sending personal and financial information. Under no circumstances should you respond to these types of messages received through your digital inboxes and never provide any personal and financial information.
Watch out for fake competitions or coronavirus voucher scams offering free gift cards from well-known supermarkets. You should never have to pay anything to claim a prize, not even the cost of a stamp. The advice remains the same: you should never respond to these types of scams and never provide any personal and financial information.
How to protect yourself from fake emails and fake SMS messages
- Check for poor spelling, grammar and punctuation;
- Is there a sense of urgency to reply or a veiled threat to your health and others/ financial security/offering free payments/offering free school dinner vouchers?
- Is there a pressure to reply and provide personal information in order to get free advice, protective items/financial assistance?
- Have you heard of the company?
- Be aware that scammers can use legitimate company logos in emails and direct you to fake websites.
- Check the salutation of the the text message and emails and but also who the sender is.
- Never click on links or files in emails or text messages unless you are sure of the source.
- Only refer to the official NHS website, the official UK Government website, the official HMRC website and other trusted sources for information.
Holiday and travel scams
Due to these uncertain times regarding travel, many consumers are concerned about their rights, compensation entitlements and refunds regarding holidays they have booked including accommodation and flights. There are scammers pretending to be from travel agents, tour operators, claims companies and insurance companies offering to help you with your travel concerns and are contacting consumers via email, text or phone.
The advice remains the same; never click on links or files in emails or text messages unless you are sure of the source and be wary of phone calls of this nature. Check the number is genuine and call a family member or friend first to ensure the line is clear. If you have concerns about travel arrangements, call the company in question from a number using the information on your official documentation, or call their number which is available on their official website.
Content provided by the Consumer Council