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Coronavirus-Related Scams - How To Protect Yourself
Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.
How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:
There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:
1 - Watch out for scam messages
Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): email@example.com
2 - Shopping online
If you're making a purchase from a company or person you don't know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.
3 - Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support
Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.
NHS Test and Trace scams:
The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.
What you need to know:
Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.
All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.
The NHS Test and Trace service will never:
- ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
- ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
- ask for any details about your bank account
- ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
- ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
- ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
- ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, please report directly to Police Scotland by calling 101.
There are many methods of property marking available. Some of these are obvious, some are invisible or hidden. They range from simple ultra violet pens to etching and engraving, as well as many varied commercial products and schemes. Property that is clearly and obviously marked is less attractive to a thief as it is more difficult to sell.
Stolen property, recovered by Police, is more easily returned to its rightful owner if it is clearly marked with identifiable information.
How you decide to mark your property the post code system of property marking is recommended. It is possible to deliver a letter using only a house number and the correct postcode, therefore, by using the same principles it is possible to locate the owner of property, if that property is marked using the owner’s house number and postcode. Adding the owner’s initials makes it even more traceable to the individual. Eg. MA FK7 7UF.
UV marking pens are popular for ‘property marking schemes’. People like the idea of invisibly marking their property. It is less valuable to the thief to sell as the markings make it less attractive to a buyer. It is also more readily identifiable and may lead to the thief being caught and charged for theft.
Take all reasonable steps to mark your property to reduce the likelihood of it being stolen but in the undesirable circumstance that your property is stolen or lost, if it is marked then the chances of it being identified and returned to you are greatly increased.
Permanently mark all your property and also keep an inventory of each item, including description, value, make, model, serial number etc. and the nature of any security marking. This can also be useful if you need to make an insurance claim following a theft or damage.
A colourless liquid solution can be applied to your valuable items, including jewellery, ornaments, electrical items and even vehicles. This is forensic marking, the liquid solution gives your property a chemical ‘code’, which is unique to your items and you. It cannot be seen by the naked eye and is very difficult to remove. The solution glows under ultraviolet light, allowing police to detect it.
Criminals are aware of forensic marking, they know that it can be used as evidence and forensically link them to a crime, such as theft, robbery and housebreaking.
Below are links to UK based forensic marking providers. Their websites have loads of useful information to guide you to what may be right for you:-
Neighbourhood Watch Scotland does not specifically endorse any one of these products. In our view, they are all equally effective.
The above are all accredited by: Secured by Design www.securedbydesign.com which is the UK police flagship initiative supporting the principles of ‘designing out crime’ by using effective crime prevention and security standards for a range of applications.
Exploiting Those Trying To Protect Themselves
|During this period of uncertainty regarding Covid-19, it has become apparent to Neighbourhood Watch Scotland that there are some people who are taking advantage of the situation and are targeting the most vulnerable. Although we appreciate the concern that is being caused by the outbreak, please continue to be cautious when dealing with callers at the door, unwanted phones calls and emails.
If everyone can tell 2 people about the following recent developments in their next phone conversation with a friend or neighbour, the message will soon reach all corners of the community.
This is a worldwide pandemic and no legitimate organisation will contact you out of the blue and ask for payment for information or access to treatment which does not exist. We are hearing reports of emails and phone calls asking for donations to help those in need during this time, or offering miracle cures, and door to door campaigns offering testing. Also, please be aware that the Red Cross are NOT doing door to door testing as has been suggested in some areas.
Unfortunately, some fraudsters are offering to do shopping for residents, taking the money and then not returning with the goods. Others have offered to take a shopping list along with a bank card. This would be considered as theft and should be reported to the police.
We don't want to discourage anyone from helping their neighbours or family members, and we don't want to breed distrust in those genuine members of the community trying to support others. We simply ask that you remain vigilant and:
Try to only liaise with people you know.
Only buy the essentials in this manner, therefore the amount of money required is minimal, do not hand over a bank card - use cash only.
If the person says they are from a community organisation, ask for some ID or to verify their identity by calling the organisation directly, not the number on the card.
Scammers are also sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails which attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive information about themselves such as personal and financial details. In the same way that we have seen fake TV licensing and HMRC emails, we are now seeing phishing emails claiming to be from organisations affiliated with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). There have also been some variations on current scams with fake emails appearing to be from HMRC offering a tax rebate due to the Coronavirus.
Please be aware of any suspicious emails and do not click on the links or attachments, and do not respond to any unsolicited messages or calls asking for your personal or financial details.
If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to Police Scotland Tel 101 or for advice contact Consumer Advice Scotland Tel 08081646000.
For anyone concerned about COVID-19 please refer to the NHS advice page - https://www.scot.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Members of the public are being targetted with automated calls stating that the recipient has been charged for an Amazon Prime subscription. The callers use this lure as a way to gain access to the recipient’s online banking account.
How does it work?
1. The victim receives an automated call stating that they’ve been charged for an Amazon Prime subscription. They’re asked to press 1 to cancel the charge, this connects them directly to the fraudster.
2. A fraudster, posing as an Amazon customer service representative, then tells the victim that the Prime subscription was purchased fraudulently and that they need remote access to the victim’s computer in order to fix a security flaw that will prevent it from happening again.
3. The victim is asked to download an application called Team Viewer, which grants the fraudster remote access to the victim’s computer.
4. The victim is then asked to log onto their online banking account whilst the criminals are able to monitor everything via Team Viewer.
Other variants of the crime involve fraudsters stating the recipient is due a refund for an unauthorised transition on their Amazon account.
What to do ?
Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.
Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information.
It’s easy to feel embarrassed when faced with unexpected or complex conversations but it’s okay to stop the discussion if you do not feel in control of it.
Never instal any software or visit a website as a result of a cold call. Unsolicited requests for remote access to your computer should always raise a red flag.
For more information on scams and how to protect yourself go to https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/
If you have been the victim of this type of crime call Police Scotland Tel 101 to report.
Theft of vehicles and theft from vehicle happens every day across Scotland. Take some simple steps to protect yourself from the heartache, inconvenience and financial impact these crimes can cause.
Most vehicle crime is preventable. It can take as little as 10 seconds for a thief to steal something from your car. The best way to protect your belongings is to lock your car whenever you leave it.
Other things you can do include:
Parking your car away from home
- Removing everything from the car; don't even leave a jacket where it can be seen
- Closing the sunroof along with the windows when you leave
- Not storing things in the boot; take them with you
- Storing car ownership information in your home, not your car
- Having a routine to ensure you always take the keys out of the ignition
- Taking removable stereos and sat nav equipment with you
- In addition, using secure (theft resistant) number plates can make your plates less attractive to thieves
Where you park can make a big difference to the safety of your car and your belongings. Look out for car parks approved by the police Safer Parking scheme. You can find them by looking for their distinctive 'Park Mark' signs. http://www.parkmark.co.uk/
How to keep your car safe at home
- Thieves sometimes break into houses looking for car keys. They can also use wires and hooks 'to try and drag' your keys through the letterbox.
- Keep your keys away from doors and windows, and tucked away out of sight.
- Have your vehicle's windows etched with its registration number or the last seven digits of the vehicle identification number (VIN). This can put criminals off, as it makes your car more difficult to sell. It also makes it easier for police to get your car back to you if it is stolen.
Get help when buying a used car
- If you're thinking of buying a car it's a good idea to do a little research before you buy. Some vehicles are more secure than others.
- The insurance research company Thatcham allows you to compare the security of new cars, motorcycles and trucks. It gives each vehicle a point score. That score can show you how the car you're thinking of buying compares to others on the market. https://www.thatcham.org/
- If you're buying a used car, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency can also tell you what it knows about the vehicle. That information can include the make and model, the year it was built, and whether tax is owed on the vehicle. https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla
Following a noticeable increase in Bogus Caller/Doorstep Crime incidents across the country please be alert and consider how you can protect yourself, family friends and neighbours. The old adage ' If in doubt, keep them out' is a simple but effective message. Everyone has a part to play to keep the community safe.
Here are some simple steps that may prevent those around you falling victim to criminals who target the vulnerable in our communities.
Look out for your community and report any suspicious activity immediately to Police Scotland on 101 or your local authority Trading Standards.
- Discuss the advice in this message and links below with family, friends or neighbours who are older or vulnerable.
- Be on guard if someone turns up unexpectedly.
- Keep front and back doors locked.
- Use the door viewer or nearby window when answering the door.
- Fit a door chain or bar – use it and keep it on when talking to callers at the door.
- If you’re not sure, don’t answer the door.
- Don’t feel embarrassed – genuine callers expect you to be careful.
- Only let callers in if they have an appointment and you have confirmed they are genuine.
- Always ask for identification badges of anyone you answer the door to, but don’t rely on them. Identity cards can be faked – phone the company to verify their identity.
- Some companies offer a password system. Ask your utility providers if this can be used and if you have a password with a company make sure the caller uses it.
- Never let people try to persuade you to let them into your home even if they are asking for help – they may not be genuine. If someone is persistent, ask them to call at another time and arrange for a friend or family member to be with you.
- Never agree to pay for goods or give money to strangers who arrive at your door.
- Don’t keep large amounts of money in your home.
- Remember, it’s your home. There’s no reason why anyone should ever enter your home against your wishes. Keep an eye out for strange vans in your neighbour's driveway.
- Make sure your relatives are not regularly taking large amounts of cash out of the bank.
- Make arrangements to ensure your relative’s house looks well maintained and, for example, that it is not immediately obvious that an older person lives there alone.
- Doorstep criminals will often target the same victim more than once, so be particularly alert if someone has previously been a victim.
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