Coronavirus-Related Scams – How to Protect Yourself

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.

How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:

There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:

1 – Watch out for scam messages
Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): report@phishing.gov.uk

2 – Shopping online
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 – Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support
Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS
  • If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, please report directly to Police Scotland by calling 101.

Corona Virus Scam Awareness

The following has been issued by Hampshire Police:

CRIMINALS ARE EXPLOITING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TO DEFRAUD PEOPLE

Below are some of the most common scams to be aware of:

EMAIL, TEXT & PHONE CALL SCAMS

  • An unexpected email from the government offering you money;
  • The ‘infection list’ scam mimicking the World Health Organisation (WHO) claiming to provide a list or map of local infections:
  • An email from HM Government asking for donations for the NHS;
  • An HMRC email stating you are ‘eligible to receive a tax refund’;
  • Sale of fake COVID-19 swabbing tests, supplements and anti-virus kits;
  • A text message asking you to pay a fine saying that you have been recorded as leaving your home on three occasions during the lockdown;
  • A phone call stating ‘government guidelines now require everyone to wear a mask outside the house, press 1 to purchase your mask’.

DOORSTEP CRIME

  • Cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria or offering to ‘decontaminate’ the inside of your home:
  • Bogus healthcare workers offering ‘home-testing’ for the virus;
  • Criminals offering to do your shopping. They take the money and do not return.

ADVICE & SUPPORT

Always question unsolicited calls, texts or emails requesting your personal or financial information (name, address, bank details). To verify the company, contact them directly using a known email or phone number. For advice on cybercrime, or to report suspicious emails visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware.

Anyone who has been a victim of fraud or cybercrime can report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call0300 123 2040.

Coronavirus Scam

I suppose this was inevitable!

Coronavirus Phishing

The worldwide spread of the Coronavirus is being used by scammers to scare people into clicking on links, open malicious attachments, or give out confidential information.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has sent out an alert about rising Coronavirus (COVID-19)-themed ‘phishing’ whereby messages appearing to come from WHO officials ask the recipients to share sensitive info like usernames and passwords, redirect them to a phishing webpage via malicious links embedded in the emails, or ask them to open malicious attachments containing malware payloads.

Be careful with anything related to the Coronavirus: emails, attachments, any social media, texts on your phone, anything.

Look out for topics like:

  • ‘Check updated Coronavirus map in your city’
  • ‘Coronavirus Infection warning from local school district’
  • ‘CDC or World Health Organisation emails or social media Coronavirus messaging’
  • ‘Keeping your children safe from Coronavirus’
  • You might even get a scam phone call to raise funds for “victims”.

 

How to keep safe from this type of fraud

There will likely be a number of scams using COVID-19 as bait, so please be cautious:

  1. Do not open or download attachments to unexpected emails eg if you see “go through the attached document on safety measures regarding the spreading of coronavirus”, ignore it.
  2. Do not click on any buttons in unexpected emails e.g. if invited to click on a “Safety Measures” button to see more information, ignore it.
  3. Ignore any pop-up that appears on your computer asking you to verify your information e.g. email username and password.
  4. If you are contacted by a person or organisation that appears to be from WHO, verify their authenticity before responding.

The Bobby Scheme

Supported by Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service, The Bobby Scheme is a free, practical service which aims to bring peace of mind to the vulnerable and elderly and help reduce the fear of crime. 

Their staff visit clients across the two counties providing FREE home security advice. They carry out a full crime-prevention survey, fitting as appropriate, items such as locks, door spy holes, door chains and smoke alarms.

Key safes can be supplied and fitted but they ask for a £75 donation for a police accredited ‘Supra C500’ model with a 5 year warranty.

The visiting staff are uniformed, police vetted and carry ID cards to reassure their clients 

“Our aim is to build confidence and enable people to carry on living independently and to maintain a sense of security in their own home” …..The Blue Lamp Trust 

How to get support from the Bobby Scheme: 

Requests for help can be made by or on behalf of anyone who meets the criteria which includes people who are vulnerable due to their age (over 65) or their circumstances, disabled, victims of burglary, repeat victims of crime or victims of domestic abuse. 

For further information and the application form go to:

http://bluelamptrust.org.uk/about-the-bobby-scheme

Or for further help call 0300 777 0157 or e-mail bobby@bluelamptrust.org.uk 

The Blue Lamp Trust have produced a booklet with advice about how to protect your home against crime and fire:

http://bluelamptrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/A5_24pp_FirePoliceLeaflet_2019.pdf

 

 

Amazon Scam Alert

The scam, which was first reported on by the police in October 2019, involves victims receiving an automated call, informing them that they have been charged for an Amazon Prime subscription.

They are subsequently instructed to ‘press 1’ to cancel the transaction. When they do this, they are directed to a fraudster posing as an Amazon customer service representative.
The fraudster advises the victim that the subscription was purchased fraudulently and that remote access to their computer is required in order to fix a security flaw that will prevent it from reoccurring.

The victim is asked to download a remote access application, often the ‘Team Viewer’ app, which grants the fraudster access to the victim’s computer.

The Team Viewer software is then misused by the criminal to capture sensitive personal and financial information from the victim’s computer.

Other variants of the crime involve fraudsters stating that the recipient is eligible for a refund for an unauthorised transaction on their Amazon account.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.
  2. Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information. It’s easy to feel embarrassed when faced with unexpected or complex conversations. But it’s okay to stop the discussion if you do not feel in control of it.
  3. Never install any software or visit a website as a result of a cold call. Unsolicited requests for remote access to your computer should always raise a red flag.

 

Theft in Monxton

Between 6th-13th January a private gate was stolen which opened onto the public footpath opposite the Manor Farm grain store in Monxton. 

Please keep a lookout for the gate pictured and remain vigilant for any suspicious activity. 

If you have any information to assist Police, please contact 101 ref:

INC-20200113-0103

Christmas Greetings

As we approach the festive season it is worth remembering that the villains do not take a break at Christmas. Advice from the Police is applicable all year but especially at this time.

Shopping

  • Make sure your handbag is closed and you carry it close to your side, so a pick-pocket would find it difficult to slide their hand in without you knowing;
  • Never leave a bag unattended in a trolley, even if for a couple of seconds;
  • Try and keep wallets in an inside pocket and out of sight from a potential pick-pocket;
  • Keep your PIN number confidential never disclose your PIN number to anyone including the bank and police;
  • When entering your PIN number at a terminal ensure no one can see you enter it.
  • Try to pay for items on a debit card rather than carrying large amounts of cash. If this is not possible keep cash to a minimum

Dwelling Burglary

  • Don’t leave Christmas presents under the tree in view from a window;
  • Make sure windows and doors are locked every time you leave the house;
  • Avoid leaving tools and ladders lying around that could assist someone to get into your home;
  • When you go out at night make it appear that someone is home. Draw the curtains and leave a light on. Always use a timer switch to put on a lamp or radio.

Vehicle crime

  • Before you leave your car, ensure all windows and doors are closed and locked;
  • Avoid leaving your purchases and presents in your vehicle. If you must, make sure they are not on display. Rather store them in the boot and make sure the car is locked;
  • Always lock your bike. Use a D lock and make the locked bike difficult to manoeuvre by keep any gaps between the lock and bike frame small.

Online shopping

When online shopping ensure you go to official websites and have adequate anti-virus software, especially when purchasing expensive items.

See the advice in the Alert of 22nd November and check the tips at the Safe Online website: www.getsafeonline.org/safechristmasshopping

Christmas Cheer

Operation Scrooge

Andover Police have launched a campaign named Operation Scrooge to deter shoplifters/organised crime groups in the run-up to Christmas. Officers from the Neighbourhood Policing Team have begun the preventive measures from the switch on of the Christmas lights. There will also be a Crime Prevention stall on Saturday 23rd November in the High Street to remind shoppers how they can protect themselves and their property

Operation Scrooge will see police liaise with retailers, give advice to shoppers and carry out high-visibility patrols in Andover town centre and its retail parks. Their aim is to deter and detect crime, providing reassurance to the public and businesses.

Protect your personal items – Keep them safe, be mindful of your surroundings!

The campaign will continue until 31st December 2019.

Safe Shopping

It is no surprise that the lead-up to Christmas – including Black Friday – is the busiest time of the year for online shopping. But it’s the busiest time for fraudsters too.

So before you start your Christmas Shopping in earnest, please take a few minutes to read the following online tips:

www.getsafeonline.org/safechristmasshopping

Have a Happy and secure Christmas!

David James

 

Landmark Cybercrime Survey

Neighbourhood Watch has today launched a landmark new survey to understand the impact of cybercrime on communities across England and Wales.

Traditionally Neighbourhood Watch has been focused on keeping people safe in the places they live but with the advent of new technology, it’s clear people can be at their most vulnerable when they occupy online spaces.

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre run by the City of London Police, revealed that last year cybercrime victims lost £28m to online criminals. It reports more than 12,000 cases of cybercrime every six months.

With the threat from online criminals only ever increasing, it is essential we understand the impact this type of crime has on members as well as their understanding and perception of cybercrime.

The survey, designed in conjunction with cybersecurity company Avast, takes just 10 minutes to complete and one lucky responder will be in with a chance to win £50 worth of Marks and Spencer vouchers.

The survey can be completed via the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/nw_cybercrime

This news story on our website can be shared with friends, family and neighbours or on your social media profiles: https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/landmark-cybercrime-survey-launched/