Fraud is probably the last thing on your mind right now, but it’s really worth knowing what to watch out for.
Scammers are experts in deception and preying on our vulnerabilities. In times of crisis, such as a global pandemic, the fragile socio-economic environment can work in their favour. Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800k.
These scams can take a number of forms. For example:
- Fraudulent sellers offering protective masks that in the end will never get delivered.
- Fake “cures” for coronavirus.
- Fake insurance policies.
- Transfers of pension funds to accounts that don’t really exist.
- Tax refund scams.
- “High return” investment opportunities, including investments in cryptoassets.
Tax refund scams are especially common at the moment. Researchers at cyber-security firm Mimecast flagged this scam a few weeks ago. The morning they detected it, they saw more than 200 examples in just a few hours. Victims receive phishing emails that claim to be from HMRC, if they click on “access your funds now”, it would take them to a fake government webpage, encouraging them to input all their financial and tax information.
How can you protect yourself against coronavirus scams?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recommends the following:
- Reject offers that come out of the blue.
- Beware of adverts on social media channels and paid for/sponsored adverts online.
- Use the FCA Register and Warning List to check who you are dealing with.
- Do not click links or open emails from senders you don’t already know.
- Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision.
- If a firm calls you unexpectedly, use the contact details on the FCA Register to check that you’re dealing with the genuine firm.
- Don’t give out personal details (bank details, address, existing insurance/pensions/investment details).
Think you’ve been a victim of a scam as a Coconut customer?
We’re here to help you!
- Get in touch with our customer care team via the in-app chat.
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call our emergency number: +44 (0) 808 169 9928.
Suspect you’ve seen a scam out in the wild?
Please do report it and help others avoid becoming victims. Call Action Fraud straight away on +44 (0) 300 123 2040, or the FCA Consumer Helpline on +44 (0) 800 111 6768.
Self employed people and small business owners can be an easy target for fraudsters. Has any of the above happened to you (or something else we haven’t mentioned)? We really sympathise! Some of these scams are very clever and only seem obvious in hindsight.
To help others learn what to watch out for, feel free to share your experiences in this thread.