Although most of us are finding these uncertain times a challenge, fraudsters see them in a different light – as an all-new opportunity. 

In fact, Action Fraud have reported that Coronavirus-related fraud went up by 400% in March 2020 alone Footnote [1]. It’s clear that fraudsters are using this difficult period – our concern and confusion heighted – to their advantage. 

So as you look after yourself and your loved ones, it’s important that you do the same for your money.

Protecting you is our priority 

Despite all the changes we’ve been faced with recently, one thing that’s stayed the same is our prioritisation of fraud protection. And during this difficult period, we’ve stepped up our efforts to protect you and keep fraudsters at bay. 

To help you take extra care of your money, we’ve highlighted some threats scammers are using – particularly when it comes to pensions, investments and insurance – so you know exactly what to look out for. 

Threats to watch out for

Robocalls and automated texts

These calls and messages may appear to come from legitimate insurance companies – but they’re far from it. They might suggest that, for a fee, they can help you recover financial losses for things like holidays, weddings and festival tickets which may been cancelled because of COVID-19. Don’t fall for it – these scams will leave you a lot more out-of-pocket than any cancelled events would. 

Phishing emails 

These messages are designed to make you react emotionally to whatever you’re receiving. With anything COVID-19-related, you’re more likely to have a greater emotional reaction and click any virus-infected links or open the malicious attachments. 

Scammers are preying on our vulnerabilities around the whole situation – offering financial support during this difficult period. Or they’re asking you to donate a sum of money to help provide more masks and medical equipment to healthcare workers.

We understand that in these trying times, you might be tempted to click – but keep in mind fraudsters know that too. If you receive anything like this, remember there’s no charitable donation or financial support on the other side. So it’s important not to click links from texts or emails you don’t trust.  

Cold calls about your pensions or investments 

You might hear from a stranger claiming that they can guarantee you higher returns than your current savings. They might suggest they can help you access your pension before the age of 55. Or they may offer you a so-called ‘free pensions review’. 

It’s illegal for any firm to call you out of the blue about your pension. So no matter what the person on the other end of the line is offering, hang up.

Supposed trustworthy sources 

Fraudsters know people are more likely to open messages from names they can trust. So another thing they’re doing is imitating insurer’s branding to sell fake insurance products to supposedly protect against the effects of COVID-19. 

So be wary if you receive an unexpected request from one of these sources. 

Misleading domain names

Scammers are tech savvy. They know exactly how to make things look real. 

Peter Hazelwood, Group Financial Crime Risk Director at Aviva reported that over 4,000 web domains (i.e., website or address) have popped up with COVID-19 dropped into the domain name. Peter said “although some of these will be legitimate sites, the vast majority are likely to be fraudulent. And fraudsters are using these same domains to send phishing emails – making them look more legitimate.” 

Scammers use these tactics to make sites look genuine, with the sole purpose of gaining our trust. They know that we all have a lot of questions right now, so they create these pages to look like they can give us answers. We need to avoid falling into their traps. 

So unless it’s a web domain you recognise and know to be safe, don’t open it. 

We’re keeping an eye out for you too 

We want you to know that we’re doing everything we can to tackle the scammers so we can focus on being there for you when you need us most. See more on what we’re doing to protect you from fraud. 

It’s best to be certain in uncertain times 

Sometimes you can just tell when something seems a little off. So if you hear or see anything from us which you’re not completely sure about, tell us about it. The information you provide will give our financial crime experts an even greater understanding of the tactics fraudsters are using. And we can then use this information to better protect you. 

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