There have sadly been reports in the UK of people using coronavirus to carry out scams. Anyone who has been a victim of fraud or cybercrime can report it online at Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.
The latest scam involves people pretending to be from NHS Test and Trace informing you that you've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and advising that you need to have a test. They say that they need your card details as you have to pay for the test. This is not true.
The NHS tests for coronavirus are free. If you get a genuine email, text or call from NHS Test and Trace they will never ask you to pay for a test or for your bank/card details.
The following types of scam have also been reported, which fraudsters use to access your personal information such as passwords or bank details:
- Doorstep scams - scammers may claim that they will help with shopping, collecting medication or cleaning drives to kill bacteria. They will then take people's money or credit card and leave without providing the service.
- Online scams - some emails or text messages pretend to link to important information about coronavirus or useful online resources. When clicking on these links, a virus is downloaded and installed, and gives scammers full access to your data. There have been reports of messages going round that claim to be from the government or the NHS; if the links in the message don't end in ' gov.uk' or ' nhs.net', don't click on the links. Online scams can also take place on social media or messaging apps, such as Whatsapp.
- HMRC scams - now that financial support schemes are available from the government, people may start to receive scam emails, calls and text messages claiming to be from HMRC. Messages may offer financial help in exchange for personal information such as your bank details. These messages will be scams. Don't respond, and delete the message immediately. HMRC does not ask for personal information in this way.
- Refund scams - scammers are targeting people who have had to cancel their holidays, and offer them fake holiday refunds.
- Counterfeit scams - some online companies are selling fake and possibly unsafe sanitizers, face masks and swab kits.
- Telephone scams - you may receive phone calls from scammers who claim to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.
- Donation scams - there have been reports of scammers claiming to be collecting donations for a coronavirus vaccine
- Business scams - Businesses are being targeted by scammers who claim to be offering tax refunds or coronavirus relief, or demanding details for Companies House. As a precaution, avoid clicking links in emails that don't call you by your name, have poor English, are from businesses that you're not expecting to be hearing from, or ask you to download any files.
- School meals scam - We have been informed that some parents have received an email asking for bank details for free school meals. This is a scam email and is not official. If you receive any emails like this, please don't respond and delete it immediately.
- DVLA scams - some people have received messages asking them to click on a link to claim back overpayments on vehicle tax.
Be aware of people offering or selling
- Virus testing kits - these should only be offered by the NHS
- Vaccines or miracle cures - there is currently no vaccine or cure for coronavirus
- Overpriced items to protect yourself from coronavirus, such as anti-bacterial products
- Medication collection services
- Home cleaning services
Protect yourself and others
- Don't be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take a moment to think before giving away personal information or money.
- Don't click on a link or file unless you're 100% sure of what it is and where it came from. If it doesn't end in ' gov.uk' or ' nhs.net', it's not from the government or the NHS.
- Don't assume that everyone is genuine. It's okay to say no or ignore requests if you're not sure. Only criminals will try to rush or scare you.
- If someone claims to be from a charity, ask them for ID.
- Be suspicious if people ask you to give them money before they deliver the service they're offering. If you're not sure, check with family or friends.
How can you avoid being scammed?
- If you can't get out, ask family, friends or neighbours to collect any things that you need.
- If this isn't possible, HIVE Portsmouth is working with organisations across Portsmouth to provide a coordinated community response to protect people as much as possible. If you want to know more about this support or think you may be able to help, visit the HIVE Portsmouth website.
- If there are people you know who can’t get online, they can call our helpline on 023 9268 8004 (staff answering this line only have the information that is available on the HIVE Portsmouth website).
For more advice on avoiding scams, take a look at the Hampshire Constabulary and Action Fraud website. You can also sign up to receive Hampshire Alert notifications here.
Victim Care Service
The Victim Care Service has launched a new website to ensure anyone affected by crime in Portsmouth and the rest of Hampshire can access support and advice.
The website offers tips on how to protect yourself from different types of crime and advice on what to do if you experience them. The service provides support for victims and witnesses of crime to cope with, and recover from, the harmful effects of the crime they have experienced.
The Victim Care Service is open to all victims, no matter what the type of crime, regardless of whether the crime has been reported to the police or not, and no matter how recently or how long ago the crime took place.