A new scam alert service to help consumers stay one step ahead of criminals trying to cash in on the coronavirus crisis has been launched by Which?
People signing up to the free service will receive warnings about the latest frauds as the consumer group uncovers them, along with information about how to spot a scam and protect themselves against falling victim.
Around £2 million has already been lost to coronavirus-related scams, according to figures from national reporting centre Action Fraud.
Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud innocent people, including sending fake emails and texts purporting to be from government: https://t.co/fRf3184syj#coronavirusfraudspic.twitter.com/319up6GDZn
— Action Fraud (@actionfrauduk) April 19, 2020
Financial bodies have also urged savers not to make rash pension decisions, over fears that scammers will try to exploit concerns about the impact of the outbreak on their finances.
The free service from Which? is available at which.co.uk/scam-alerts.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has created the perfect storm for scams, with fraudsters using callous tactics to exploit people’s fears and vulnerability for their own financial gain. As new scams spring up daily, our alert service aims to help people protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Everyone should be extra cautious about clicking on links in any unsolicited emails and texts or answering calls. Make sure your computers, mobile phones and tablets are supported by the latest security updates, and consider installing antivirus software to minimise threats.”
Here are some tips from Which? for common scams to watch out for:
– Bogus phishing texts from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) claiming the taxman has been forced to issue refunds due to coronavirus, and providing a link for readers to “calculate their refund”
– Fake messages purporting to be from the Government, requesting people pay a fine for breaching lockdown rules
– Emails encouraging people to use their time during the lockdown to invest in cryptocurrencies
– Unsolicited calls from fraudsters offering to enrol vulnerable people on to coronavirus vaccine trials for a fee
Generally, look out for spelling mistakes, fake website domains and messages purporting to be from legitimate firms which start with “Dear Sir” or “Dear Customer” rather than using your name.