It’s a sad fact – if there is a crisis there are always scammers willing to exploit it for personal gain. The Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. As early as the first week in lockdown, the government published an alert warning the public that Covid-19 scams were already appearing. Common scams include fake emails purporting to be from large trusted organisations offering financial assistance, phishing emails claiming to be associated with the government’s test and trace, and fake social media profiles used to manipulate a user into handing over personal information.
The country is out of lockdown, but this is not a reason to drop our guard against these cons artists. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19 scammers.
Beware of links in unsolicited emails. Scammers are taking advantage of the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 by sending emails or texts purporting to be from HMRC, NHS, WHO and other large credible organisations. Often these emails claim to offer money and include a link for you to click. They are designed to steal your information or gain access to your computer. Check the sender email address and make sure you are expecting what it’s about.
Take your time to research any offers that seem too good to be true. Even if an email looks legitimate, there is no harm in doing your research. Don’t be pressured to accept an offer. Always double check its validity using the official contact information if the offer claims to be from a well know firm. Alternatively, you can check with government departments such as Action Fraud, or with organisations like the Financial Conduct Authority to see if a fraud alert has been issued for the offer you have received and whether companies are on the FCA’s authorised Financial Services register here.
Don’t give out your bank details. Everyone would love to get money for free and scammers know it. Scammers have been inundating people with fake offers ranging from grant money and tax rebates to free school meals and Covid-19 ‘goodwill payments.’ These offers request your bank details and once you hand them over the scammers gain access to your account.
During a time when fraud abounds, using Ordo is another way to make sure you keep your bank details safe. Ordo provides a low-cost, secure, and easy to use payment service that keeps your bank details between you and your bank, and they’re authorised by the FCA and on the FCA’s Financial Services register here so you know they’re legitimate (their company name is The Smart Request Company Ltd and they trade as Ordo). Learn more here and keep your payment secure.