Pensioners and holidaymakers are being targeted by fraudsters who are trying to make the most out of the coronavirus crisis, a fraud prevention service has warned.
Saturday, 23rd May 2020, 11:29 am
Cifas has said criminals are targeting people who are waiting for refunds on cruises and those nearing retirement, to exploit their concerns over coronavirus.
The not-for-profit organisation is warning the public to stay vigilant regarding the changing tactics scammer are using in the wake of the pandemic.
Amber Burridge, head of intelligence for Cifas, said: “Weeks into lockdown, and we are still seeing fraudsters adopting new ways to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to defraud innocent members of the public.
Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshirecoronavirus“Always be vigilant of fraudsters and never let your guard down – especially in the current climate. Remember that criminals are preying on people’s fear and anxieties around the pandemic, so never be rushed or pressured into handing over your bank or personal details – no matter how legitimate a request appears.”
The scams which have been reported to it this week are below:
Cruise-related credit card scams
Cruise passengers waiting for refunds or Future Cruise Credits (FCCs) due to the cancellation of their holidays are being targeted by emails purporting to be from their holiday organiser. These emails ask travellers for their credit card numbers claiming it will help to process their refund more quickly. Travellers have also reported being contacted by phone calls confirming they are due a refund and asking for their bank account details.
Cifas is reminding holidaymakers to be vigilant of scams offering refunds or rebookings. If you receive a call or text purporting to be from a travel company wanting to discuss a refund or rebooking a holiday, then contact the party you booked your holiday with directly. Do not use the contact information or links in an email or text message.
Increase in pandemic pension scammers
Unscrupulous scammers are currently targeting the pensions of those people in or nearing retirement. Research from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has already uncovered some concerning statistics around pension scams, and Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud reporting centre, has recorded total losses of nearly £970,000 owing to Covid-19 fraud in February and March, with a marked increase in online fraud specifically.
Anyone contacted by someone purporting to be from an investment company or pension provider can check whether a company is genuine at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart, and never give financial or personal information to anyone – it could be used to steal your identity.
During the coronavirus lockdown there has been an increase in TV Licensing phishing scams. These emails demand victims renew their TV license immediately as their direct debit has been declined or the payment details are out of date. Recipients are also told that they will be fined if they fail to pay. Other emails are claiming that the licence holder has overpaid and is due a refund, and that they need bank details to process this payment.
Cifas is reminding people that if they receive an unsolicited email or call, to never give out their bank details. If you are unsure as to whether a TV Licensing email is genuine, visit the official TV Licensing website or use the contact information on that official site.
Fraudsters are contacting jobseekers through social media and other messaging platforms (such as WhatsApp) asking them to share their personal details or pay money to begin the application process for a job. In order to appear more legitimate, job adverts use the branding of large corporate organisations as well as information from their websites.
Cifas is reminding jobseekers that if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking them to apply for a role, not to give out their personal information. If they claim to be calling from an agency or a company, then call them back on an officially recognised number.
Romance scams on the rise
Criminals are exploiting loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown to take money from people looking for romance online. These fraudsters are skilled at conning money and personal details from their victims as part of seemingly normal conversation.
To help avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam, remember never to send money, financial details or offer too many personal details to someone online. For those needing more help and support, Victim Support offers free, confidential advice via Support line on 0808 1689 111 or visit their website www.victimsupport.org.uk.
Editor’s note: first and foremost – and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity – I hope this finds you well.
Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists – almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses – who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.
And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.
Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets – our newsagents need you, too – can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.
If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.