More than two-fifths of people suspect they have been targeted by bogus “phishing” emails during the coronavirus outbreak, a survey has suggested.
TSB, whose survey took place in April, found 42% of people suspect they have been targeted by phishing attacks during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Criminals use phishing emails, which appear to be from legitimate organisations, to trick people into clicking on links and handing over personal information, which can be used to steal money.
Such emails could promise fake refunds for cancelled trips, bogus “safety” information or dodgy donation requests.
Unsure whether someone on the phone claiming to be your bank or police is genuine? Hang up, wait a minute, then call your bank/police on a known number to verify their identity. pic.twitter.com/EV2ynJoFDT
— Action Fraud (@actionfrauduk) April 14, 2020
Just under three in 10 (29%) also suspect they have been contacted by fraudsters by phone and 28% by text.
Many people surveyed said they had also been receiving more contact generally from organisations such as banks, local authorities and internet providers.
Two in five (43%) people say they have become more concerned that an elderly family member or friend may be targeted since the outbreak of coronavirus, the survey of 2,000 people found.
TSB’s customers are covered by its own fraud refund guarantee, which means that innocent Covid-19 fraud victims are protected by its reimbursement pledge, with 99% reimbursed since April last year, according to the bank.
Ashley Hart, head of fraud at TSB, said: “Fraudsters are exploiting the coronavirus outbreak with increasingly complex scams designed to prey on the nation’s fears and changing circumstances, as they tailor their methods and ramp up attacks to trick people out of their hard-earned money.”
While TSB has its own fraud reimbursement code, many other banks have signed up to a separate voluntary industry code, which reimburses innocent victims of bank transfer scams. However, concerns have recently been raised about the levels of reimbursement taking place under the voluntary industry code.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) recently said available data suggests that there are problems with how authorised push payment (APP) fraud – where people are tricked into making a bank transfer to a fraudster – is currently being handled.
Scams should be reported to Action Fraud.
Here are TSB’s tips to protect yourself:
– Smishing (scam text messages)
Fraudsters can spoof text messages to look like they have originated from someone else, such as the Government, the World Health Organisation or your local doctors’ surgery. Do not click on any links provided in text messages, and verify any telephone numbers given before calling.
– Phishing emails
Offers of Covid-19 tax refunds, refunds from your travel bookings, safety advice via email and donation requests are all ways in which fraudsters could try and encourage you to click on dodgy links, or make you part with sensitive personal and financial information. Always stop and think about what you are being asked to do, and if you have any doubts, ask family or friends. And do not open attachments.
– Vishing ( bogus phone calls)
Always suspect unsolicited phone calls. Do not be afraid to put the phone down if you cannot verify the caller and guard your details. If you have concerns, call the organisation back on the number listed on their website, or if it is your bank, use the number on the back of your card.