COVID Provides Cover for Scammers

4th Dec 2020

Evidence is everywhere that fraudsters have taken advantage of the pandemic, with so many of us staying online at home and so much upheaval and change in the way Britain functions.

Protect your friends by sharing this article with them:

Citizens Advice

1. Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice report a shocking 36% of UK citizens were targeted by scammers in the first three months of lockdown. Confusion about bogus test kits, government refunds and vaccinations provided fertile ground for the fraudsters.


2. Aviva

Aviva insurance published a Fraud Report that found 1 in 5 people reported having been targeted by suspicious communications that mentioned coronavirus – which equates to 11.7 million in the UK, many of them IPS members. 46% of those who were targeted didn’t report it. 41% of those who didn’t report it didn’t know where to report it. This confusion is something IPS will work hard to resolve in 2021.


Take Five to Stop Fraud

3. Take Five to Stop Fraud

The National Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign reports that the finance sector stopped over £1.8bn of unauthorized fraud last year, but the fraudster still got away with over £1.2bn. The publicity around Coronavirus gives criminals the chance to target you with fraudulent emails, phone call, text messages and social media posts.

Two of the UK’s big five banks, Barclays & Lloyds recently launched initiatives to help their own customers facing similar challenges.


Paul Davis, Retail Fraud Director at Lloyds Bank states:

“Scams are getting more sophisticated all of the time, absolutely anyone can fall victim…Criminals are always looking for ways for us to part with our money. While the threat is very real, the things we can do to keep ourselves safe are actually very simple.” Paul recommends talking to friends and family before you do anything. Common sense advice from those you trust will often make you think twice and that can stop the fraud in its tracks.”

Jim Winters, Head of Fraud at Barclays said:

“Fraudsters have undoubtedly taken advantage of the nation’s uncertainty during the pandemic, in what is just another moment in the historical evolution of scams. The immediacy of our lives, even during lockdown, has allowed scammers to harness the constantly changing news agenda to target their victims, which is why we all need to remain vigilant. I would urge everyone that if they are ever in doubt and something doesn’t sound right, to take the time to check it out, or get a second opinion from someone you trust.”

Fraudsters increasingly use technology trickery to mimic telephone numbers and emails that present them convincingly as a legitimate company.  In fact Aviva reports that 4 in 5 victims told them that the fraudsters pretended to be from a company they already deal with.

Scams never go away, they just evolve. The one constant is that a fraudster will need to gain your trust – and usually prey on a fear – as a route to stealing your hard-earned money.

If you get a call out of the blue, one that is unexpected and unsolicited, your thought must be to question it.

  • Do not automatically think it as a genuine call. The number may look genuine, but if you call back always use a number you trust (and have found yourself) and not the one given to you.
  • Only fraudsters will rush you into a decision.
  • You should call your bank  immediately  if you have fallen for a scam.

IPS tips for online safety at Christmas

There are a few simple rules to guide you through online shopping safely and securely.

  • If you receive a text or email with a download for a great deal, do not take it further. It may be a scam. Check by logging in to your account to see any genuine problem yourself.
  • If you receive a call from a “retailer” or a “bank” asking you to confirm some facts to help unblock a problem, don’t give them any information. Check by logging in to your account to see if you can see any actual there.
  • Use your credit card, debit card and PayPal when buying as this does give you additional insurance and recourse to obtain any defrauded money. The safest of these is the credit card.
  • If you pay by bank transfer or wire service you may not get your money back.
  • Would the NHS really be calling you from the Test and Trace team requesting payment for ‘testing kits.’? The answer is NO. Don’t tell them anything.

Criminals and scammers are able to target anyone at any time. They are not interested in your age or situation, only what information and money they can steal easily and quickly.

Fraudsters also make use of social media platforms to harvest data about you (birthday or location or even job role) to make their call, text or email more convincing. This simple but effective profiling can lead on to identity theft and is a topic we will report on in early 2021

As an IPS member, what can you do to protect yourself?

  • Don’t respond when you receive a communication “out of the blue”.
  • If in doubt check it out! Call your bank or insurance company to confirm if what you heard was true.
  • Report anything you suspect to be a fraudulent activity to Action Fraud
  • Share you experiences with fellow members – here or hop across and start a thread on our Facebook Group

Have your say

As an IPS member, you can leave us your thoughts, comments and experiences in the commments section below

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.