20/03/2020

COVID-19: Scots to protect themselves against scams

20/03/2020

COVID-19: Scots to protect themselves against scams

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As Scotland struggles alongside the rest of the world to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s hard to know what information you can trust.

Coronavirus and scams

There are different reports every day, and unfortunately, the scammers and thieves around the world are taking advantage of the situation to target those who may be more vulnerable to their schemes in a time of uncertainty.

Measures are being taken by the government to help prevent this from happening, but that doesn’t mean there’s aren’t steps you can take to protect yourself.

Here, we breakdown everything you need to know about the coronavirus scams out there and what you can do to avoid falling victim to them during this crisis.

If something looks suspicious, don’t open/click it

There have been a slew of emails and messages claiming to be official bodies or research companies, offering information that doesn’t exist or products to help fight the virus that actually do nothing.

They masquerade as a number of companies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and even HMRC.

The majority of these will contain links or attachments that will either take you to a fake website or page that will ask you for personal details such as your address, name and bank details.

It’s extremely important to remember, if something looks suspicious, then it probably is. Do not open any emails or messages from sources you don’t recognise and do not click any links or attachments that come with these.

It’s also important to remember to not respond to any of these messages or emails. We advise to delete them immediately.

“This is your bank calling”

It has long been stressed by the banks that they will never call you and ask for information, but that doesn’t stop people doing just that.

You may receive a call from someone claiming to be your bank, advising there has been a security breach and you need to move the money in your account to a ‘safe location’ for protection. They will then ask for your account details.

There is no safe location and there is no breach. Once your details have been collected, they then have the ability to clear your account, move money or make purchases under your name.

Your bank will always contact you in writing via letter or email, and there will always be measures put in place, so you know when it’s legit. This will be things such as the way they address you in their correspondence or information they will always include.

Shopping on online marketplaces

We all know there’s shortages of many things such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser, nappies etc., and many people will do whatever they can to get it.

Scammers are now buying into this by advertising these products on online marketplaces such as eBay or Gumtree for an extremely high price. If not this, then the adverts will be fake, and the products won’t even exist.

Make sure you do your research before making any purchases and do the necessary checks to make sure the seller is genuine. This includes checking out their reviews and profile to see what others are saying.

For those who do make purchases, use an insured card to do so. This will give you cover if it turns out to be a scam and the chances of getting your money back will be higher.

Friendly neighbours

Now, not everyone that offers you help is a crook, but it is important to be cautious. There have been many reports of people offering to go shopping for the vulnerable and elderly, taking the money and then lining their own pockets instead.

This can seem like a great solution for those who are self-isolating, but to avoid this scam it’s best to alternatively ask friends, family or neighbours you know to help you. It’s also advised to use online services where you can.

Also, be aware of people knocking at your door to offer help pretending to be from charities. In these instances, it’s best to check with the charity itself to check if this is a procedure they are carrying out.

Victims of scams/fraud

Those who believe they have fallen victim to a scam or fraud, then you must report it right away. You can do this by contacting Police Scotland to provide them with all the details of what’s happened to you.

This is especially important if you feel a serious crime has been committed or you’re in danger as a result of the scam.

It’s also important to contact the bank to make them aware of the situation. This will allow them to take the necessary steps to secure our account such as cancelling your cards.

You can also contact Take Five for further advice on how to protect yourself from financial fraud.

If you’ve been affected by a coronavirus scam and you’re struggling with your money, contact us today. We can offer free and confidential expert advice to help you get back on track. You can call us on 0808 2085 195 or click below to be connected to an advisor.

You could write off up to 75% of unsecured debt with our debt assistant.

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