There are always scams circulating online, whereby scammers will attempt to gain access to personal information or money by targeting individuals or businesses with fraudulent communications. The two main ways that this is achieved is through online scams and payment fraud. With the COVID-19 pandemic came many new ways that scammers are attempting to commit fraud. Unfortunately, businesses in need are being targeted, with scammers offering money whilst claiming to be compensation, or sending fraudulent links to these business owners. For this reason, it is more important than ever to be aware, vigilant and smart when it comes to scamming attempts.
It is important to ensure that you are aware of the types of scams that are circulating to ensure that, if one comes your way, you know how to identify it.
Online scams are one of the most common forms of fraud and have become more frequent than ever during the pandemic. Online scams can include texts and emails from people claiming to be from organisations such as GOV.uk and HMRC. Over the last 18 months, scams have been seen to offer fake Covid testing kits as well as texts informing people about Covid track and trace.
Payment frauds are also common and can often include individuals posing as government-led organisations in order to trick people into making a payment or attempting to encourage them to share personal information. These scams can also include an offering of money such as compensation claims and tax relief.
Often these scams can look realistic, but there are some key pointers below which are useful to look out for when differentiating a scam from a legitimate communication.
- Look out for spelling mistakes, lack on punctuation and misuse of capital letters on organisation names.
- Take a look at the email address – does it look legitimate?
- If the communication includes a link that seems untrustworthy, do not open it. If you do open a link and it directs you to a page which asks you to fill in personal details, please do not do this – a legitimate organisation will not ask for your confidential details online.
- If you receive a message that appears to be from your bank or lender but you are unsure on the legitimacy, please contact them first to ensure that you are dealing with the right person.
- Remember that your bank or lender will never ask you to disclose any confidential information online or via email.
- Please be careful with the information that you share online. If you are in any doubt that the source of the communication is untrustworthy, do not disclose any private or confidential information regarding both yourself and your business.
It is important to remember that a bank or lender will never ask for personal details online. If you are asked for these details online, do not disclose them.
Be patient – scammers will often try to put pressure on you by mentioning a tight deadline or payment date, whilst also mentioning the disadvantages if you do not meet this date. Take your time and do not feel obliged to rush into responding to these communications. If you believe the communication to be of a fraudulent nature, do not respond. It is also important to note that, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you are in doubt of legitimacy, make sure you second-guess anything you see.
If you feel that you may have fallen victim to one of these scams, it is important that you report this to Action Fraud immediately.