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Coronavirus Scams

We’re in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and many of us are concerned about what will happen next. Coronavirus has created the perfect environment for fraudsters to thrive using a range of tactics.

How to spot and avoid Coronavirus Scams?

Things to watch out for in emails and other messages are:

Unsolicited emails and texts: be careful of anything you weren’t expecting that claims to be from an organisation such as a bank, BT, Sky, PayPal, Microsoft, the BBC and other large, trusted organisations. And at the moment, particularly watch out for unsolicited emails claiming to come from health bodies such as the NHS, the WHO and the CDC.

An urgent tone: phishing and smishing messages are designed to scare you into clicking on their links.

Grammar and spelling: the phishing email claiming to come from the WHO is clumsily written and has typos such no spaces after commas.

No name: Legitimate emails from services you have accounts with will always address you by name. Phishing emails and smishing texts usually start with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Customer’.

Fake domains: Scammers often set up website addresses that look legitimate in order to trick you. Security researchers Digital Shadows says that more than 1,400 domains linked to the Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus have been registered in the past three months. While many of those may well be legitimate, others will almost certainly be used to trick anxious consumers into thinking they’re genuine.

The latest email and text phishing scams:

Fake lockdown fines: People have been warned not to fall for a bogus text message saying they have been fined for stepping outside during the coronavirus lockdown. The scam message claims to be from the Government, telling the recipient their movements have been monitored through their phone and they must pay a fine or face a more severe penalty.

HMRC goodwill payment: The MET police are warning of a fake message designed to steal your account details that says ‘As part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19 virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment’.

Free school meals: The Department for Education has issued warnings about a scam email designed to steal your bank details saying: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported.’

WhatsApp request to forward your code: A recent scam could grant hackers full access to your WhatsApp messages, photos and videos. Someone who knows your phone number could request to register your WhatsApp on a different device, and when a verification code is sent to you, the hacker will then message you to try and coax you into forwarding this on to them. They could then target your contacts with requests for money.

Source: Which?

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