Coronavirus restrictions in the UK are easing which means more people are heading back out to work; staycations and holidays are being booked; event ticket sales have increased; companies are recruiting again; and families are looking to invest any financial savings made over the past 14 months during lockdown.
Whilst this is really good news for the economy and mental wellbeing of the population, unfortunately there will be fraudsters planning how to scam the unsuspecting with completely convincing tricks in all of these areas – our blog below provides an overview to help you avoid getting caught out.
Letters from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
In the weeks after high street stores opened their doors, local councils and business retailer forums have been warning UK companies to ignore a very legitimate-looking letter from the BEIS Government department informing of a legislation requiring the purchase of an air purifier to comply with Covid-19 safety regulations. The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) advises to alert Action Fraud if you receive such a letter.
Travel and event bookings
Following the successful trial of the Liverpool music festival, more outdoor events organisers are announcing their plans to go ahead with opening gates to the public. Most summer events and concerts have already sold out, yet fraudsters are profiting from people wanting to get places.
Holiday makers are also being warned about email impersonations of trusted travel agencies and hospitality firms offering discounted rates for green-list destinations, as well as scammers tempting would-be travellers with fake vaccine certificates or charging for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is actually available free of charge.
Visit the Take Five to Stop Fraud website to protect yourself when booking holidays or events online.
As more of us head out of our houses returning to work or the gym, visiting friends and family, or enjoying a meal at your favourite restaurant, you may return home to find you’ve apparently missed a parcel delivery by notification of an email or text message. These fake alerts are mostly claiming to be from Royal Mail or DPD asking for an ‘extra postage payment’ or the item will be returned to the sender.
This is followed by a phone call after a few days telling the victim their bank details have been compromised and the funds should be transferred to a ‘secure’ account – be warned that the phone calls are from the fraudsters themselves!
Always check with the retailer that you have placed and order with for delivery updates before assuming you’ve potentially missed a delivery.
Action Fraud have launched a campaign after reporting that so far this year, over £1.8 million has been lost to pension related fraud. The scams that seem to be in circulation offer ‘free pension reviews’ or offering to help you release money from your pension.
The Pensions Regulator advises that pension savers should visit The Pensions Advisory Service website for unbiased guidance or get financial advice from a FCA-authorised financial adviser, to avoid losing a lifetime of savings in an instant, to unsympathetic fraudsters.
Job application checks
As recruiters seek to hire new workers, potential candidates should be warned of scam artists representing companies they’ve applied to asking for payments towards DBS checks and training before being officially offered a job. The BBC has reported an article detailing a fraud-risk warning to those seeking work.
If you’re an employer in the process of hiring new staff, it may be wise to ensure your onboarding programme outlines your protocols for background checks and training, and to provide contact details for potential employees wishing to check requirements should they receive such financial requests.
If you feel you have been compromised by fraud or cybercrime, please contact your bank in the first instance, and be sure to report scams to Action Fraud here.