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COVID-19: Fraud Update

Friday, 3 April 2020

Did you know scams cost the UK economy between £5-10bn per year and 2020 could see an increase due to COVID-19 related activity?

As the global pandemic continues, there has been an increase of fraudulent activity in the Financial Services industry directly relating to it. As many of us stand together, criminals take the opportunity to catch us when we are more vulnerable than usual.

What we’ve noticed

  • Fraudsters are using a more intelligent approach to gain access to personal data and using fake news to their advantage
  • An increase in ‘Spoofing’ across the market, where criminals hack legitimate text or email trails from organisations to make them appear real

Our top 3 tips to keep customers safe

1. Be alert – always read and re-read texts or e-mails, make sure they are from a legitimate source and never click on any links / attachments until you can verify this.

Carefully scrutinise any communication from the following organisations:

  • Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • Government
  • GPs
  • NHS
  • Local Authority

Take extra with communications that mention coronavirus / COVID-19, especially if they also reference:

  • A link for an app that tracks the virus using an interactive map
  • Business working conditions or policies
  • Campaigns raising money for research into cures, or funds for victims
  • Information about hospitals in affected areas
  • Mortgage repayment holidays or rent relief
  • Parcel shipping cancellations
  • Refunds from airlines or entertainment bookings
  • Money transfer requests for victims trapped abroad
  • Services claiming they can diagnose coronavirus
  • Tax refunds from
  • Websites where you can buy coronavirus masks, test kits, sanitiser gels or protective equipment

2. Be aware – check the FCA’s Financial Services Register to establish a company’s credentials.

3. Stay safe – keep your personal details safe and secure, never transfer money, and contact your bank immediately if you believe you have been victim of fraud.

If there’s anything that doesn’t seem quite right, it can be reported to Action Fraud.

The following websites have all the latest information on current scam and fraud activity, and are updated regularly during the pandemic.

We are supporting customers who get in touch with concerns on fraud by providing reassurance and clarity. We have reviewed and changed some of our processes during this time to ensure those who are most vulnerable are able to reach us quickly and easily.

Be alert, be aware and stay safe.

Simon Wadey, Group Compliance Director & Money Laundering Reporting Officer