Coronavirus Scams: How to Spot and Avoid Them

The Covid-19 outbreak saw families and people coming together despite the social distancing rules. There were incredible acts of kindness and solidarity to the from line workers. But the pandemic also brought the dark side of the society with criminals taking advantage of the situation. Since lockdown started there have been millions lost due to coronavirus-related scams.

In this article we would like to share some of the most common frauds that have been reported during the lockdown and some measurements you can take to stay financially safe.

Covid-19 financial support scams

– Criminals have sent fake government emails designed to look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information from victims.
– Fraudsters have also been sending scam emails which offer access to ‘Covid-19 relief funds’ encouraging victims to fill in a form with their personal information.

Health scams

– The UK Government announced its NHS Test and Trace service, which aims to give advice to people who may have been in contact with someone who then tests positive for coronavirus. But as with any development in this pandemic, appallingly scammers are using it as another opportunity to steal your personal information and, in turn, your money.
– Victims are also being targeted by fake adverts for Covid-related products such as hand sanitizer and face masks which do not exist.

Lockdown scams

– Netflix Scam – We’re all so bored of lockdown and we’re binging on box sets to distract ourselves. Scammers know this and so there’s been a spike in the number of scams claiming to offer free trials of subscription services like Netflix and Disney+.
Some of the scams claim existing customers need to update their credit card details or lose their service, in order to entice them into sharing their data.
– Fake Pets Scam – With increasing numbers of people dealing with social isolation there has, rightly or wrongly, been an increase in the number of people looking to buy a pet to keep them company.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has reported a rise in the number of scams relating to animals and Action Fraud says it received reports of around £300,000 lost in phoney deposits for non-existent pet sales. Some criminals harvested additional cash from their victims by charging for vaccinations and other fake add-ons.

Here are 5 things you can do to avoid a Coronavirus scam:

1. Ignore offers for vaccination and home test kits
Be extra vigilant when approached by a person or ‘company’ selling vaccines and home test kits you haven’t requested, signed up to or are expecting. You should be very suspicious of any requests for money upfront.
2. Hang up on robocalls
3. Watch out for phishing emails and text messages
4. Research before you donate
5. Stay update on the latest information on scams.