Michael Burrow, NatWest’s managing director of personal banking, has highlighted the five most common scams as:
1 – Fake cures: These are emails that claim there’s a cure that’s been covered up by various governments. There are a number of variations of this email. But it’s likely to ask you to click a link to receive more information about the cure. Do not click on this link as it’ll take you to a webpage that captures your bank login information.
2 – WHO impersonation emails: Scammers are sending out emails that look like they come from trusted organisations, like the World Health Organisation (WHO). An attachment in the email claims to provide safety measures to combat coronavirus but opening it actually infects your device with malware that monitors your online activity and captures your information.
3 – Coronavirus tax refund: Criminals are bombarding mailboxes with emails saying you’re entitled to a tax refund due to coronavirus – but it’s a trick. HMRC will never contact you by email to discuss tax refunds, so don’t click or respond. Report emails like this to phishing@HMRC.gov.uk
4 – Purchase scams: Watch out for emails, ads, posts, texts or phone calls advertising anything to do with coronavirus – whether it’s for facemasks, vaccines or access to testing kits – any deals that look too good to be true usually are. Some emails claim to be from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) and request Bitcoin payments. You’ll be told that you’re donating towards a cure or paying for essential coronavirus information. These approaches are very likely to be a scammer trying to get their hands on your money or personal details.
5 – Offers to make quick money: There has been a huge increase in criminals trying to lure people into becoming money mules through ‘get rich quick’ job offers during these uncertain times. If a job ad looks too good to be true – it probably is. The personal consequences of allowing criminals to pay money through your account can be life-changing. Reject any offers of cash to let someone else use your bank account, it’s simply not worth it!
Stay alert to any suspicious behaviour and remember to always:
- Be vigilant against unsolicited phone calls, texts or emails about coronavirus from anyone. Your bank will never ask you for your full PIN or password, card reader codes, or ask you to move money from your account.
- Never download attachments, software or let anyone remotely log into your computer following a call or email you’ve received out of the blue.
- If you are ever asked to do any of these things, refuse and contact your bank immediately using the number on the back of your card or a number you trust. If possible, call your bank back from a different phone or mobile.
- Pass this information on to your family and friends, especially the more vulnerable in our society.