Cruel coronavirus scams to watch out for

Wherever there’s a crisis, there’s sadly someone willing to take advantage and the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception.

Users of PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones need to be more alert than ever right now and should be extra careful not to click on a suspect email or text.

Only open links from sources you trust and even then hover over the name of the sender to try to find out the sender is not impersonating a work colleague or an organisation that you trust.

 Here, we look at some of the current scams, reported on UK news websites.  

The PPE scams

Shockingly, the need for workers to source Personal Protective Equipment has led to new scams.

Website found frequent scams now linked to offers of personal protective equipment or hygiene products such as sanitiser gel. That might mean websites selling products they will never ship or sites harvesting credit and debit card details.

The job retention scheme scam

Criminals are stealing business bank details by emailing bosses and claiming to be from HMRC. They ask for business bank account details, claiming that this is to guarantee payment of the salary subsidy.

At least one website has been taken down.

The council tax reduction scam

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has warned of a new email scam claiming to offer a council tax reduction, inviting recipients to click on a link and claim their discount via a plausible webpage covered in government branding.

In reality, it’s a phishing scam designed to steal sensitive data from victims.

The tracing app scam

We’re told a tracing app is a necessary part of combating the virus, one that can warn people if they have come into contact with Covid-19.

But before it is even launched, scammers are using the idea of it to steal data and commit identity theft. Some people have already received texts claiming they have come into contact with a person who has tested positive, texts that include a link to a website that collects enough information to compromise their bank accounts.

The self-employment income support scheme scam

It was always inevitable that there would be scams surrounding a scheme that paid out a lump sum to the UK’s army of freelancers.

HMRC has had to ask internet service providers to take down over 300 scam websites that are exploiting various aspects of the crisis and this self-employment scheme has been a significant part of that.

The Netflix scam

As everyone is spending more time indoors at present, there’s an appetite to find new films and box sets to watch.

 This has resulted in a rise of scams claiming to offer free trials of subscription services like Netflix and Disney+.

Some of the scams claim existing customers need to update their credit card details or lose their service, in order to entice them into sharing their data.

If there really is a free trial of any service then you will be able to find details by searching online. If you can’t then this is simply a scam.

The fake pet fraud

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has reported a rise in the number of scams relating to animals and Action Fraud says it received reports of around £300,000 lost in phoney deposits for non-existent pet sales. These have included demands for money for fake vaccinations.