Scams are among the most prevalent types of crime in the UK, and coronavirus is giving fraudsters new opportunities to take advantage of people. It can happen to anyone, but older people can be particularly vulnerable to scams. If you care for an elderly relative, pass on some of the information below and make sure they’re aware of what to do if they feel suspicious about a call, email or visitor.
These are some of the scams to be aware of and ways to protect yourself against them:
Phishing is when criminals send emails or texts that try to get you to give away sensitive information, or click on a link that downloads a virus so they can steal your passwords.
Coronavirus-related emails and texts have appeared, aiming to trick people into opening malicious attachments, giving away their passwords, or donating money via a website. These often claim to be from the World Health Organization or the UK Government.
If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.
Scammers are calling homes, claiming to be from authorities like the police, HMRC, your GP surgery or your bank. These calls try to get you to transfer money or give sensitive information. Others ask you to press a button, which connects you to a premium number, making you liable for a costly phone call.
There have also been reports of criminals knocking on people’s doors, offering to test them for coronavirus and charging them for doing so. Others are claiming to sell things like protective face masks or hand sanitiser. Older people are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of scams.
If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, you can report this to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. Action Fraud is the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Reports of fraud and any other financial crime in Scotland should be reported to Police Scotland via 101.
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