It is clear that the series of lockdowns and social distancing regulations to curb spread of COVID-19 has created the perfect breeding ground for fraud.
New scams are popping up every day and they are spreading faster than Covid-19.
These scams are a significant threat, as more and more of us are being duped into handing over our hard-earned cash to fraudsters at a time when we really need to be looking after our finances.
One scam that is starting to catch people out relates to the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Fraudsters are sending texts and emails to victims, tricking them into believing the communication is from the relevant authorities.
The messages claim that the recipient is eligible to receive the vaccine and asks consumers to click a link to make arrangements.
In the United Kingdom, readers who have received these texts and emails say the link took them to what looked like a genuine NHS website.
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One of those who almost fell victim to the scam was Kevin, from Battersea, South London.
He filled out a form that asked for his name, address, date of birth and bank details to verify his ID – but luckily, Kevin got suspicious at this stage so went no further.
On Friday, I discussed this particular scam on my LBC radio show with Katherine Hart, the lead officer at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
She told me: "The NHS will never ask you for banking details, passwords or PIN numbers. These should serve as instant red flags."
If you are duped into giving your personal information to a fraudster, I would advise you to take the following three steps.
- Immediately report the scam to the police.
- Check if any of the security questions attached to your online accounts contain any of the information you have provided to the fraudsters. For example, did you tell them your place of birth or mother’s maiden name?
- If you did, get the questions linked to your accounts changed as soon as possible as this kind of information is now available on the black market.
- Check your bank statements and credit file every month to make sure no one has taken out credit in your name.