Fraudsters continue to use pandemic to steal money and information from the public

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.

This week Cifas has been made aware of the following scams:

Compromised National Insurance number scam

Action Fraud has issued a warning of scam calls requesting personal details from victims in relation to a compromised National Insurance number. Once a victim presses a number on their handset, they are connected to a criminal who claims they are collecting their personal details so the victim will receive a new National Insurance number. This is a scam, and the details provided will most likely be used to commit identity fraud in the future.

Cifas is reminding the public to never give out personal or banking details over the phone to callers they do not know. Remember that only criminals will try to rush or panic you into parting with your details, and if you suspect the call could be a scam, then hang up.

If you believe you have been scammed, file a report with Action Fraud or to Police Scotland if you are a Scottish resident. If you have provided bank details, contact your bank immediately.

Brexit text message scam

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has seen evidence of a text scam which asks recipients to verify their identity in order to ‘keep up with EU standards’ as a result of Brexit. The message goes on to direct people to a website to share their personal details ‘to avoid restrictions’. This is a scam, and the link directs to a phishing website to collect personal details.

Cifas is reminding the public to forward suspicious text messages to 7726. By providing this information, your provider will be able to investigate the origin of the text and take action if required. You can also use the Suspicious Email Reporting Service to forward any suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk.

If you believe you have been scammed, report it to Action Fraud or to Police Scotland if you are a Scottish resident. If you have provided bank details, contact your bank immediately.

Scammers continue to target COVID vaccine bookings

The NHS continues to warn the UK public of the risks of scam emails and texts targeting COVID-19 vaccine bookings. These messages purport to come from the NHS, and include a link to register for the vaccine as well as asking for bank details for verification purposes.

Cifas is reminding people that the NHS will:

  • Never ask for payment – the vaccine is free
  • Never ask you for your bank details
  • Never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • Never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents, such as your passport.

If you believe you have been scammed, then report it to Action Fraud or to Police Scotland if you are a Scottish resident. If you have provided bank details, contact your bank immediately.

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘We continue to see criminals using variations of methods to scam the public by encouraging us to part with our personal details. Once they have their hands on these details, it’s likely they will be used to facilitate identity fraud, which accounted for 60% of cases filed to the National Fraud Database last year.

‘I would urge anyone that is asked for their personal or financial details to think carefully and consider the potential consequences of parting with this information. Where possible, avoid clicking on links in emails and try to take steps to verify the identity of the person or organisation contacting you.

‘As the distribution of the vaccine begins to increase and more groups become able to book their vaccine, spotting when a message is obviously fake may become more difficult. Remember that the NHS will never ask for your banking details as part of booking your vaccination and check the website you are using has an official NHS URL.’