Coronavirus is a golden opportunity for many cunning people of course, from price hikes on food and goods in high demand, looting, burglary and online scams, those with a criminal mind are working hard right now to profit from the misery and fear of others.
The BBC reported last week that phishing emails have already been sent out, promising HMRC refunds, secret website links where you can jump the queue for a vaccine and more. Insurance Edge has simple advice during these times; if you don’t recognise the email, don’t open it – if it’s from a genuine business contact, they’ll re-send later wondering if it went in your Spam folder.
CNET has reported that some fake Android apps have already been developed, and as usual, these invite smartphone users to download an app which is planting malware on your device. Some dodgy virus maps are online too, which offer users the chance to track known cases in their locality – again be very careful to use official sources for information like that.
Sad to say, it’s also worth being sceptical about people on social media setting up Go Fund Me pages, community support groups or other activities which are ostensibly for charity. Even in normal times, many charities attract career fraudsters, keen to exploit the kindness of others, so take care to google the names of individuals involved and check if the organisation is at least registered as a legit UK charity.
Assuming Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces more practical help for small companies and sole traders today, you can bet that scammers will be setting up fake `claim your grant/emergency payment’ websites and helplines too. IE is guessing that local councils will be responsible for assessing which traders can get help, and authorising payment – there isn’t going to be any way to legitimately jump that slow-moving queue. So don’t fall for it.
As regards online scams, Which? has the following tips;
Kate Bevan, Which? Computing editor, said:
“Scams are among the most prevalent types of crime in the UK so it is seriously worrying that coronavirus is creating a perfect environment for fraudsters and scammers to thrive using a range of loathsome tactics.
“Help protect yourself by being extra cautious before clicking on 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.”