Unfortunately, whilst most of the country is pulling together, helping in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19), there are individuals and organisations that are using it to try new scams and trick people by email, phone, and text message.
Criminals have turned this new working and living environment into an opportunity to steal from us. To help combat this, we’ve created the below tips that you should bear in mind, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but once things returns to normal too:
- If you receive an email from an unknown address, you should think before opening it as it could be dangerous. One simple thing you can check is the subject line – does it look like something you’ve received before, or relevant to you and your business?
- If you open an email and it doesn’t look right, for example it’s messy, has different size text throughout, or unusual images, you should think about deleting the email and not replying. Clicking links, or replying, could let the sender know that you’re someone they can target.
- Before you buy products from online shops or sellers that you’re not familiar with, you should check online reviews. If you can’t find any, use caution before purchasing anything as this could be a tell-tale sign that not everything is as it might seem.
- If you receive an email or text message that appears to be from a shop you’re familiar with, asking for you to log into their site for the latest updates, double check the link you’re clicking before entering any of your account information, or go directly to the website using the address you’d normally use. Criminals are setting up spoof websites to trick people into handing over their account details, and this is a way that they can achieve this.
- Before installing anything on your computer or mobile phone, check reviews and information relating to its security settings. Again, if you can’t find anything, consider whether installing the software is the right thing to do.
- Never share confidential information via social apps, such as Zoom or WhatsApp, even if they proclaim to offer end-to-end encryption. If your device has a virus, which you probably won’t know about, this can bypass end-to-end encryption and enable interception of confidential information.
Where can I find out more information?
During the Government’s press conference on Saturday 25 April, they shared several resources that can help tackle phishing and other forms of organised crime. Below are useful links where you can find out more information and report fraud and cybercrime.
Cyber Aware: Cyber Aware is the UK government's advice on how to stay secure online during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access their website here. Government advice on protection from fraud and cybercrime can also be accessed here.
Action Fraud: Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you've been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can access their website here.
Thinkuknow: Thinkuknow is the education programme from NCA-CEOP, a UK organisation which protects children both online and offline. You can access their website here.
Take Five: A national campaign to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. You can access their website here.
Thankfully, most people are pulling together, by staying at home, protecting the NHS, and saving lives, but bearing the above in mind will provide an additional level of protection at this challenging time.