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Beware of the latest scams

There has been an increase in the number of fraud cases since the coronavirus outbreak, so we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you to be alert and on the lookout for scams, bogus callers and suspicious communication.

To remind people that criminals are experts at impersonating trusted organisations, UK Finance has launched a new animation video urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. Watch the video to the right.

Direct Debit scams

This scam circulates on social media and also targets Housing Association customers directly, offering to help people claim back rent paid through Direct Debit.

This is often portrayed by the scammers as a quick, hassle-free way to claim back money without any consequences.

They then guide the customer through the Direct Debit Indemnity process and make a claim that the money was taken incorrectly and in return take a “commission” for their services.

The customer then claims back the money under the Direct Debit Indemnity Scheme and pays the commission to the scammers, only to find out they are now in arrears with their rent and have lost the money that they paid in commission.This can have a devastating financial impact.

We advise our customers to avoid this scam and to report any attempts to the Police Fraud Action Team on 0300 123 2040 with the details or visit the Action Fraud website.

Covid-19 vaccination scams

There has been a reported rise in vaccination scams with fraudsters targeting people. You will be contacted by the NHS when it is your time to be vaccinated and it is free of charge.

The NHS will never ask for:

  • your bank account or card details
  • your pin or banking password
  • copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips

For more details about Coronavirus scams, visit Action Fraud.

Covid-19 financial support scams

  • Criminals have sent fake government emails designed to look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information from victims.
  • Fraudsters have also been sending scam emails which offer access to “˜Covid-19 relief funds’ encouraging victims to fill in a form with their personal information.
  • Criminals have been targeting people with official-looking emails offering a “˜council tax reduction’. These emails, which use government branding, contain links which lead to a fake government website which is used to access personal and financial information.
  • Fraudsters are also preying on benefit recipients, offering to help apply for Universal Credit, while taking some of the payment as an advance for their “services”.

Please consider the following if you receive any messages out of the blue:

  • Stop: 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.

Online scams

  • Criminals are sending fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months of free TV license because of the coronavirus pandemic. Victims are told there has been a problem with their direct debit and are asked to click on a link that takes them to a fake website used to steal personal and financial information.
  • Amid a rise in the use of online TV subscription services during the lockdown, customers have been targeted by criminals sending convincing emails asking them to update their payment details by clicking on a link which is then used to steal credit card information.
  • Fraudsters are also exploiting those using online dating websites by creating fake profiles on social media sites used to manipulate victims into handing over their money. Often criminals will use the identities of real people to strike up relationships with their targets.
  • Criminals are using social media websites to advertise fake investment opportunities, encouraging victims to “take advantage of the financial downturn”. Bitcoin platforms are using emails and adverts on social media platforms to encourage unsuspecting victims to put money into fake investment companies using fake websites.
  • Trying to get people’s details through scam emails. This is called phishing. Phishing emails may pretend to be your bank or utility company that will alert you to a problem with your account. They will ask for sensitive information such as bank details or login information. If you receive an email that appears to be a phishing email do not click on attachments in the email or respond to it. There is more information about phishing emails here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/scam-emails

Doorstep scams

Please consider the following when approached by anyone offering services:

  • Stop – Never do anything you don’t want to or make decisions on the spot.
  • Check – Check for ID. Remember most of these are community volunteers so wouldn’t necessarily have ID. There is no way of knowing whether they are legitimate, so if you don’t feel comfortable say no.
  • Ask – Ask someone you trust for a second opinion or ask them if they can provide the support you need.
  • Mine – If they ask for your card or pin, remember this is very personal information which should not be shared.
  • Share – If you come across a scam, share your experience with others if possible to prevent them from being scammed.

Telephone scams

People are also using telephones as a way of scamming members of the public, whether that be by obtaining bank or personal details or by selling fake items such as alarms or testing kits.

Here at Great Places we have been making welfare calls to our older and vulnerable customers to offer reassurance and ensure these customers have everything they need. Customers are asked about their general health, who should be called in an emergency and if they have support with shopping or picking up medication.

These are friendly calls from our caring colleagues. If you are called by someone who says they are from Great Places, please remember that we will never ask for personal information, bank details or card details over the phone.