Coronavirus fraud:  How to protect yourself

Added 06/05/2020

The Coronavirus lockdown has forced us to adapt our everyday lives and get used to spending much more time at home away from our family, friends and colleagues.

Whilst the majority of us are pulling together, helping each other and supporting the NHS, there is a small number of people, criminals, who are also adapting to take advantage of our new reality, taking the opportunity to scam innocent people and businesses.

These criminals can be experts at impersonating people, organisations or the police.  They may try to contact you by phone, email, text, social media or in person, with the aim of getting you to part with your money or personal information.

There’s no need to panic, but you should be aware that there are criminals out there waiting to take advantage if you let your guard down.  It can happen to anyone.  

Here are some tips to help you protect yourself:

Stop and think

Take a moment to stop and think before handing over any personal information or money.

Challenge

It’s ok to reject or ignore any requests for information or money, especially if it is unexpected or you don’t feel sure of who the request is coming from and why.

Remember, the police, or your bank will never ask you to:

  • Withdraw any money
  • Transfer money to a different account
  • Reveal your banking password or pin

You can confirm whether a request is genuine by using a known number to contact an organisation directly, for instance the number on your bank card or statement.

Never click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.

Further information:

There are lots of places where you can find further information to help protect yourself from fraud and scams.

Barclays Bank has put together a page of information on what to look out for:
https://www.barclays.co.uk/coronavirus/scams/

This guide from Which? describes some of the specific coronavirus related scams that are doing the rounds at the moment, including fake lockdown fines and HMRC goodwill payments. 
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/04/coronavirus-scams-how-to-spot-them-and-stop-them/

Age UK has a lot of information about protecting yourself from scams and fraud, including doorstep scams, telephone and postal scams, and how to stay safe online.  No matter what your age, this is very useful information.
https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/scams-fraud/