You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

UK hit by ‘avalanche’ of coronavirus scams: the ploys to watch out for

Written by:
From fake HMRC emails to social media quizzes, find out how scammers are targeting consumers during these unprecedented times.

The Covid-19 health emergency has led to a “never before seen” surge in scam activity, according to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).

It said it had witnessed an “avalanche” of scams drop on UK consumers since early March, with criminals using a whole range of methods to target victims.

These are the main scams to lookout for:

Doorstep con artists

CTSI has received reports of doorstep criminals pretending to be healthcare professionals offering bogus coronavirus testing services. The ruse is a means to gain access to elderly peoples’ homes during a time of heightened vulnerability.

It has also received reports of other types of doorstep scams, including builders claiming they can lay driveways with an antibacterial layer which protects the household from Covid-19.

Fake HMRC texts

Fraudsters are also using text, email and the telephone to con people. A common ploy is sending fraudulent messages claiming to be from HMRC offering a fake tax rebate supposedly from the government as a helping hand during the pandemic. They include a link to a page where it instructs the recipient to input their credit card details.

Phoney lockdown fines

Scammers are sending phoney fines to people via texts for supposedly breaking lockdown rules. The message, which claims to be from the government, informs the recipient that their phone location settings report that they had left the house on too many occasions. The text instructs the recipient to tap a link where they may pay the fake fine.

Bogus texts and emails from big name brands

There have been reports of fraudulent texts and emails cloaked in corporate branding. One claims to be offering money off shopping vouchers to help during lockdown from big-name supermarkets. Another is a fake Netflix-branded email which asks the recipient to update their payment details. All of these scams try to get people to go to a web address and put in their credit card information.

Social media quizzes

On social media, several ‘COVID-19 quizzes’ have popped up, supposedly asking users to test their coronavirus knowledge. The quizzes claim to test public awareness about the coronavirus pandemic; however, most of the questions are unrelated to it.

Many of the questions are about personal data, such as maiden names, family information, pets and contact details, including email addresses and telephone numbers. CTISI says the quizzes bear all the hallmarks of a data harvesting operation, which could lead to financial fraud and identity theft.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “I am continually astounded at the scale of new scam activity in the UK since the pandemic hit. Never have I seen such a gigantic surge in activity targeting UK consumers.

“CTSI and our partners in the UK consumer protection landscape have been working hard to educate and warn the public about these emerging threats, and we are confident that it is making a difference.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

The savings accounts paying the most interest

It’s time to get your finances in shape, and moving your cash savings to a higher paying deal is a good plac...

Everything you need to know about being furloughed

Few people had heard of ‘furlough’ before March 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic thrust the idea of bein...

The experts’ guide to sorting out your personal finances in 2021

From opting to ‘low spend’ months to imposing your own ‘cooling-off period’, industry experts reveal t...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week