The coronavirus pandemic is causing devastation across the world, with the death toll now more than 100,000 globally, Johns Hopkins University has said tonight. In the UK, the crisis has sadly seen thousands who have tested positive for COVID-19 die, and the economic impact has hit millions.
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With so many Britons struggling to get by during these unprecedented times, reports of scams relating to coronavirus are all the more shocking.
Earlier this week, Action Fraud announced that it had received 41 reports in the last two days, of a scam email purporting to be from HM Government.
In the email, the scammers fraudulently ask for donations to the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This is a fake email and your money will only end up in the hands of a criminal,” the warning said.
The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime also reminded the general public that the NHS would never ask a person to send money directly to a bank account.
“If you would like to donate to the NHS you can do so via their official channels or your local NHS Trust,” it pointed out.
App-based bank Monzo has also been warning customers to be on alert for potential scams.
In a blog post on the challenger bank’s website on March 27, Lizzie Morgan, Financial Crime Analyst, warned that fraudsters are sending emails and texts which are designed to trick the recipient into revealing sensitive personal information, such as one’s bank details or PIN.
“The scam messages can look incredibly convincing, as it’s unfortunately very easy for fraudsters to make fake messages look like they’re coming from a trusted source,” Ms Morgan warned.
“For example, some fraudsters have been able to show fake text messages in existing threads from GOV.UK, which makes them look genuine.”
Amid the worrying scam tactics, Monzo is warning customers to be “extra vigilant” if a person gets messages from what seems to look like the government or another trusted organisation.
Ms Morgan added that care should be taken “especially if the message promises you money or asks you pay an unexpected fine”.
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The financial crime analyst also suggested four top tips for reducing the risk of falling victim to coronavirus scams.
This includes not clicking on links in texts or emails, in the event that a person receives any communication about possible refunds or fines.
Instead, it’s suggested that the recipient of the message opens up a browser and goes to the offical government website.
Remembering that “your bank, a trusted organisation or a government department will never ask you to share sensitive personal information,” is another insight shared by Ms Morgan.
This refers to details such as one’s PIN number, the 16 digit number on the debit or credit card or an email address password.
The financial crime analyst also suggested people take their time, and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, “it probably is”.
Ms Morgan added: “If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, please contact your bank as soon as possible.”
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