The latest money scams you should be aware of
Fraud will increase in 2020 and losses from COVID-19 fraud will exceed £ 5m. Photo: Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images / Sipa USA
Fraud is increasing in the UK as fraudsters take advantage of the COVID 19 crisis to fool Britons and steal their money and personal information.
In March alone, fraud reports increased by a massive 400%. Meanwhile, Action Fraud's figures show that coronavirus fraud losses have exceeded GBP 5 million ($ 6.17 million).
To help, the financial crime team at Hitachi Personal Finance has listed the most common fraud cases to look out for in 2020 and has provided some key tips on how to avoid them.
The most common fraud cases in 2020
Telephone and vacation fraud
Phone fraud disguised as cold calls or even calls from companies you are a customer of is increasing. Ofcom's latest research suggests that up to a quarter of “disruptive calls” could be fraudulent calls in 2020 - from just 4% in 2017.
During the summer months, fraudsters often make cold calls or emails pretending to be a travel company. On holidays, they offer low prices to get your personal and bank details, according to Hitachi Personal Finance.
Top tips to avoid cheating on the phone:
Never share personal information with anyone who asks you to make a transaction over the phone, and hang up if they insist or urge you to make a decision.
A real bank or organization will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password, or transfer money to another “safe-keeping” account.
Only provide your personal or financial information to use a service that you have consented to, that you trust, and that you are likely to be contacted by.
If you are not sure, hang up immediately and contact your bank at the number on the back of your card or your bank statement.
If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. For calls related to vacation, review the company's Air Travel Organizers License (ATOL) and Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) databases and ask friends if they are familiar with them.
READ MORE: Coronavirus: A third of the British eats savings on blocking
Most people are used to deleting spam emails, but what about those sent by your bank or service you use? Fraudsters are getting smarter and are now cloning legitimate emails to send those identical to those of big names.
Top tips to avoid phishing email scams:
Never click on links or open attachments from suspicious emails as this is how the fraudster accesses your data.
Check the address from which the email was sent. Malicious emails often have an unclear email address (however, be careful as some appear real at first glance).
Report any emails that you are unsure about as a phishing attempt and delete them from both your inbox and your deleted folder.
If an email from a particular “company” appears suspicious, e.g. At a bank where you are not a customer, contact the company to see if it is real or false.
Research of which? shows that 21 people are cheated every minute because they share too much information on social media.
Top tips for avoiding social media fraud:
Think about what you share and who can see it, especially if your profiles are not set to private.
Check the background of your photos for private information, such as: Letters, bank cards or driver's license. Fraudsters can follow your posts and merge your personal information over time, which can lead to possible identity theft.
READ MORE: Coronavirus - British lose £ 3.5 million from COVID-19 scam
In March this year, the City of London police reported a 400% increase in fraud related to corona virus fraud.
At the time, over 100 reports were also being sent to Action Fraud, with total losses reaching nearly £ 970,000.
Some of the latest corona virus email and text phishing scams include:
Falsified fines for bans - people have been warned not to be fooled by bogus text messages that say they have been fined for entering the coronavirus lock. The message is said to come from the government and to tell the recipient that his movements have been monitored over the phone and that he has to pay a fine or face a more severe penalty.
HMRC goodwill payment - MET police have warned of a fake message that is being used to steal British account information. The message said: "As part of the NHS promise to fight the COV-19 virus, the HMRC made a payment of £ 258 as a goodwill payment." Recipients are cautioned not to provide account information when they receive this message.
Fake Council Tax Reductions - A fake government-branded email was reported asking for bank details in exchange for a tax credit related to the Coronavirus Council. Britons are cautioned not to provide personal information in response to this email and to report directly to Action Fraud.
Free school meals - The Ministry of Education (DfE) has warned of a scam aimed at stealing your bank details. It says: “As the schools close, please send your bank details to if you are entitled to free school meals. We will make sure that you are supported. "
WhatsApp request to share your code - A recent scam, warning users to be extra careful, can give hackers full access to your WhatsApp messages, photos, and videos. Someone who knows your phone number could request registration of your WhatsApp on another device. If a verification code is sent to you, the hacker will ask you to persuade you to forward it to them. You could then address your contacts with money requests.
Contract tracking fraud - warning people to beware of fraudsters pretending to be from the NHS when coronavirus contact tracing starts in the UK. The NHS test and traceability service only contacts people by phone, text message or email. Calls and texts come from a verified NHS number: 0300 013 5000. Calls from other numbers or from a withheld number should be treated as a forgery.
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