While amazing people right across the world,
including our NHS Heroes, are trying to deal with and stop the spread of
Covid-19, it has also become an opportunity for unscrupulous scammers and cyber
criminals to exploit unsuspecting victims.
Over the past week we we reported a Covid-19 ‘pandemic map scam’ which
was doing the rounds. But it seems the scammers have been increasing their
So let’s not let the scammers have it too
easy. Here are our Top 5 Scam Round ups
to be on the look out for this month .
1: Bogus Text (SMS) Messages
We’ve had reports of a number of different types of messages in circulation purporting to be from the UK Government. Text tell the recipient ‘You have been out of your house 3 times today, you are in breach of government guidelines. Your £30 fine will automatically be added to your bill. If you get this, Ignore it.
The reason this message is sometimes perceived
as genuine is the fact that earlier this week the UK Government did in fact
send one real and genuine message to all mobile phone users with the latest
advice relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2: HMRC Scams
A number of scam text messages and emails have been circulating, purporting to be from HMRC offering the self employed and freelancers rebates eg along the lines of ‘you are eligible to get a tax refund (rebate) of XXX’ with a link saying ‘Access your funds now’. The advice from HMRC is that you should not reply to the email or SMS, or open any links in the message. HMRC will never send email or text (SMS) notifications about tax refunds of rebates and you can also contact HMRC official website if you’re not sure about something which you have received.
3: Invoice Paid or Invoice Problem
With more employees than ever before now working
from home due to the Coronavirus – it’s important for staff to remain vigilant
on any emails they receive. Particularly those with the subject line ‘Invoice
Paid’ or ‘Invoice Issue’. Scammers have been ramping up their phishing
efforts – keep an eye out for suspicious
emails especially those which contain PDF attachments these can often be
claiming to be an invoice paid, locked pdf asking you to enter a user name and
password to unlock.
These PDFs can be carrying malware or links for
phishing websites. This can also include trojans or ransomware – caution should
always be taken when you receive any unsolicited email with a PDF
attachment. The following is always
useful to keep in mind;
- Check the senders email address – does the contact name match the email address? Does the email address look strange?
- Avoid clicking on links within the email message or downloading the attachment – get someone else’s opinion. If you receive an email or a message claiming to be from a friend give them a call and check the authenticity of the email and attachment.
4: WhatsApp Scam
Over the past number of years all social media
and messaging platforms have seen their fair share of scams and hoaxes. One to be on the look out for at the moment is
on popular messaging app WhatsApp. The
not so new scam called ‘WhatsApp Gold’ started off in 2011 and has been
resurrected again during the COVID 19 Pandemic.
It claims to provide access to secret versions of WhatsApp, offering
users a version of WhatsApp claiming to be from celebrities. Of course no such secret app or gold version
exists. Or does it?:) No. It definitely does not.
The message which users receive includes a link
to download the app but what they download instead is a form of malware which
infects the users’ device, privacy becomes compromised and the result is the
theft of sensitive data.
5: Fake Advertisements for Face Masks or Sanitising gel
With more and more people staying at home and
opting to shop online, it’s important to remain vigilant for fake
advertisements and websites which can pop up across social media and the
Often they will ask buyers to pay via money
order or PayPal by using the ‘Send money to family and friends’ feature – when
sending a payment this way users don’t have PayPal buyer protection.
Once the payment has been sent you will not see your
money again. So only use trusted websites, always buy from within the platform and
the same goes when making the payment and use your credit cards such as PayPal
Buyer Protection which provides a safe experience for the buyer.
Take care online. And in our strange new world.
Wayne Denner is a speaker, author and expert on Online Reputation and Wellbeing. Wayne helps young people protect and improve their digital presence. Visit waynedenner.com for more information.