Although most of us are finding these uncertain times a challenge, fraudsters see them in a different light – as an all-new opportunity.
In fact, Action Fraud, the UK National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, have reported that Coronavirus-related fraud went up by 400% in March 2020 alone. It’s clear that fraudsters are using this difficult period – our concern and confusion heightened – to their advantage.
So as you look after yourself and your loved ones, it’s important that you do the same for your money.
Protecting you is our priority
Despite all the changes we’ve been faced with recently, one thing that’s stayed the same is our prioritisation of fraud protection. And during this difficult period, we’ve stepped up our efforts to protect you and keep fraudsters at bay.
To help you take extra care of your money, we’ve highlighted some threats scammers are using – particularly when it comes to pensions, investments and insurance – so you know exactly what to look out for.
And for more practical tips on protecting your money, see how to avoid being scammed.
Threats to watch out for
Robocalls and automated texts
These calls and messages may appear to come from legitimate insurance companies – but they’re far from it. They might suggest that, for a fee, they can help you recover financial losses for things like holidays, weddings and festival tickets which may been cancelled because of COVID-19. Don’t fall for it – these scams will leave you a lot more out-of-pocket than any cancelled events would.
These messages are designed to make you react emotionally to whatever you’re receiving. With anything COVID-19-related, you’re more likely to have a greater emotional reaction and click any virus-infected links or open the malicious attachments.
Scammers are preying on our vulnerabilities around the whole situation – offering financial support during this difficult period. Or they’re asking you to donate a sum of money to help provide more masks and medical equipment to healthcare workers.
We understand that in these trying times, you might be tempted to click – but keep in mind fraudsters know that too. If you receive anything like this, remember there’s no charitable donation or financial support on the other side. So it’s important not to click links from texts or emails you don’t trust.
Cold calls about your pensions or investments
You might hear from a stranger claiming that they can guarantee you higher returns than your current savings. They might suggest they can help you access your pension before you reach 55 years of age. Or they may offer you a so-called ‘free pensions review’.
If you receive a call from a stranger offering financial advice, hang up.
If a caller claims to be calling from your existing financial advisor or financial service provider and you weren’t expecting the call or the caller isn’t personally known to you, exercise caution. Fraudsters can and do use spoof phone number to make it look like they are calling from a genuine number. Do not provide personal details to such callers. If in doubt, hang up and call back later using a number you trust (from a company’s official website or a policy document they’ve sent).
Supposed trustworthy sources
Fraudsters know people are more likely to open messages from names they can trust. So another thing they’re doing is imitating insurer’s branding to sell fake insurance products to supposedly protect against the effects of COVID-19.
So be wary if you receive an unexpected request from one of these sources.
Misleading domain names
Scammers are tech savvy. They know exactly how to make things look real.
Peter Hazelwood, Group Financial Crime Risk Director at Aviva reported that over 4,000 web domains (i.e., website or address) have popped up with COVID-19 dropped into the domain name. Peter said “although some of these will be legitimate sites, the vast majority are likely to be fraudulent. And fraudsters are using these same domains to send phishing emails – making them look more legitimate.”
Scammers use these tactics to make sites look genuine, with the sole purpose of gaining our trust. They know that we all have a lot of questions right now, so they create these pages to look like they can give us answers. We need to avoid falling into their traps.
So unless it’s a web domain you recognise and know to be safe, don’t open it.
We’re keeping an eye out for you too
We want you to know that we’re doing everything we can to tackle the scammers so we can focus on being there for you when you need us most.
It’s best to be certain in uncertain times
Sometimes you can just tell when something seems a little off. So, if you hear or see anything from us which you’re not completely sure about, tell us about it. The information you provide will give our financial crime experts an even greater understanding of the tactics that fraudsters are using. And we can then use this information to better protect you.