Beware of fraud and cyber crime

Released on 1 April 2020

South Staffordshire council news

We're continuing to see an escalation in cyber crime and fraud in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police and taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It's ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you've fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud. Your bank or the police will NEVER ask you to transfer money or move it to a safe account.

Please be on your guard and don't click on links or attachments in suspicious email or text messages. Here are examples of some of the different frauds that we know about.

Phishing emails

There are many coronavirus-themed phishing emails circulating at the moment and these contain links and attachments attempting to trick people into divulging personal information such as banking details, email logins and passwords.

Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails which have been seen nationally and locally include:

  • Emails claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.
  • Emails offering assistance with funding in the absence of school meals. Fraudsters are targeting families and using free school meals as a way of obtaining bank account details.
  • An email claiming to offer ASDA/Tesco sterile delivery plus a gift card and asking you to click and register your credit card.
  • An email offering to provide news articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
  • Emails about investment schemes and trading advice, encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downtown.

How to protect yourself

  • Watch out for scam messages and don't click on any links or attachments in suspicious and unsolicited emails or text messages. Any link should be treated with upmost caution and it's best to visit websites via a trusted source and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • If you are shopping online and making a purchase from a company or person you don't know and trust, carry out some research first and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
  • Protect your devices from the latest threats and always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices.  

Report cybercrime and fraud to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre.
Find out more at www.actionfraud.police.uk  

Further Information and Resources

For more information on how to shop online safely visit:
https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely  

For resources and latest news visit Take Five visit:
https://takefivestopfraud.org.uk/news/scam-alert-coronavirus/

For information on how to update your devices visit:
https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices

For the most up-to-date guidance around Covid-19 visit:
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

To report offers of financial assistance from HMRC contact:
phishing@hmrc.gov.uk 

Please don't become a victim and beware of scams to do with #coronavirus


Contact details

For further details contact
South Staffordshire District Council
Council Offices,
Wolverhampton Road,
Codsall,
South Staffordshire,
WV8 1PX

Tel: 01902 696000

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