Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – vaccine selfies, oversharing on social media and nuisance calls

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is highlighting the latest coronavirus scams from the past week, and warning the public to stay vigilant of the ever-changing tactics that scammers are using to extract money and information.

Vaccine selfies lead to rise in identity theft

Members of the public are being warned not to share their vaccine selfies following a spate of cases involving identity theft.

As the vaccine programme continues to be rolled-out, a number of people have been sharing pictures of themselves along with their vaccine cards on social media. These documents include personal information including names, birth dates and vaccination sites. This information is being used to create fake vaccination cards which are then sold on the black market. Criminal gangs are reported to be selling forged COVID-19 negative test certificates through Whatsapp groups and adverts on social media.

Cifas is warning people never to share personal details on social media, and that anyone using a fake vaccination card could face a prison sentence. If you are targeted by this scam then you need to report it immediately to your social media provider and report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

Social media users warned about oversharing

New research by Tessian has revealed that 84% of people post on social media every week, with the majority sharing information including their interests, the names of their children and birthday celebrations. This type of information can help fraudsters commit facility takeover fraud where a criminal poses as a genuine customer to gain control of an account. Cifas saw a 21% increase in reported cases of this type of fraud last year.

Social media users are reminded that they should provide as little personal information about themselves on social media as possible, and to only accept invitations from people they know.

Pandemic sparks surge in scam calls

The National Trading Standards Scams Team has reported a 250% rise in the number of nuisance calls since the first nationwide lockdown. Their research has revealed that the top three scam call types involved:

  • Selling fake insurance for white goods such as fridges and washing machines
  • Impersonation callers and spoofed numbers for organisations including the NHS, and service providers such as Amazon and Netflix Criminals posing as legitimate tradesman offering domestic home repairs.
  • The research also revealed that people over the age of 70 were specifically targeted by COVID-19 scam calls.

Cifas is reminding anyone that receives a call offering goods or services to take a moment to stop and think before parting with financial or personal information. This information can be used by criminals to buy goods or apply for services in the victim’s name.

If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam then you must contact your bank immediately, and report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

Sally Felton, Director of Intelligence and Member Experience at Cifas, said: ‘As feelings of excitement at the prospect returning to normal build, it’s important we remain vigilant against oversharing personal details online. Criminals have access to technology to scrape your personal details from the web and use these to commit fraud against you. Make it hard for them and be aware of what you’re posting about yourself online.

‘I would urge everyone to review their privacy settings on social media to make sure only those you want to can see your profile and posts. But even then, you can’t be sure your information won’t be shared. Limit the information you do share, and think twice before posting your future holiday bookings as these advertise to everybody when your home will be unoccupied.’