COVID-19 scam prevention advice

Sadly, scammers and criminals are already looking for opportunities to scam people as a result of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.  The National Crime Agency (NCA) has urged people to be wary of a variety of frauds that have emerged alongside the virus. The following are examples of frauds related to the pandemic that have happened and steps to take to protect yourselves.

In Person Scams – by pretending to be from the authorities with free Coronavirus testing

There have been reports of people door-knocking (i.e. doorstep criminals) claiming to be from the Health Authority.

What happens:

  • The criminal knocks on your door.
  • They claim to be from the Health Authority.
  • They offer to do COVID-19 testing on residents.
  • There are also reports of the criminal offering to take the residents temperature.
  • They offer products such as anti-virus kits which falsely claim to cure Covid-19.

This is a scam!

What to do: 

  • Do not let them in.
  • Do not allow them to take any money or details from you.
  • Report to the Police on 101.
  • If you ask them to leave and they don’t, contact the police on 999.

In Person Scams – by offering to buy shopping

There have been reports of people losing money by giving their bank card to someone who offered to do some shopping for them.

What happens:

  • The criminal leaves a card through their door offering to help buy essential items.
  • However, they are after your card details to steal money for their own use.
  • They will not buy you any essential items but will go away and not be seen again.

This is a scam!

What to do:

  • Don’t ever give your bank or card details to anyone, even if you think you know them very well.
  • You could either agree to pay in cash after they have delivered the shopping or pay them online if you have the facility to do so.
  • Or maybe you could agree another method of payment.
  • But never give your bank or card details. 

Online Scams and Internet fraud – by pretending to be from the authorities or your bank

There have been reports of remote criminals using the coronavirus pandemic to scam people out of their money and personal information, multiple agencies have warned.

What happens:

  • The criminal sends a message via text, email or social media stating there has been ‘strange activity’ connected with your online accounts and that your money or identity is at risk of being stolen.
  • The criminals will then ask you to confirm who you are by providing personal data such as full names, addresses, date of birth and bank account details.
  • The criminal sends a message via text, email or social media stating they are from a charity seeking donations towards the Coronavirus crisis and helping those affected and to find a cure.
  • The criminals will then ask you to donate money and to provide your bank details.

This is a scam!

What to do:

  • Be sceptical if you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message about the coronavirus, and never click on any attachments or links.
  • Never provide personal data such as your full name, address and date of birth – scammers can use this information to steal your identity.
  • Do not allow yourself to be pressured into donating money and never make donations by cash or gift card or send money through transfer agents.
  • If you think you have been the victim of a scam, speak to your bank immediately and report any fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
  • You can get further information on dealing with scams and fraud by calling the Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or contact Citizens Advice.