Stay alert for fraudsters exploiting Covid-19 emergency
Police are urging people to keep up their guard against fraudsters who seek to exploit the Covid-19 public health emergency for their own gains.
Officers at Cumbria Constabulary have issued frequent warnings throughout the current situation to try to keep people safe from crime during the pandemic.
Now detectives have spoken again to remind people of some of the current threats – and how to steer clear of them.
Detective Sergeant Stephanie Goulding said: “Criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people.
“They will continue to exploit every angle of this national crisis and we want people to be prepared.
“We are not trying to scare people at a time when they are already anxious.
“We simply want people to be aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect themselves from handing over their money, or personal details, to criminals.
“Law enforcement, government and industry are working together to protect people, raise awareness, take down fraudulent websites and email addresses, and ultimately bring those responsible to justice.”
EXAMPLES OF SCAMS
Examples of scams include emails notifying people they are eligible for tax rebates.
There have been reports of elderly people being targeted with the sale of facemasks – then the masks never arriving.
Online shopping increased during the lockdown, with people reporting buying goods online but the items not arriving.
In April there was an average of 50 reports of suspected fraud a week in Cumbria.
DS Goulding added: “Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.
“They spend hours researching you hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.
“They can contact you by phone, email, text, on social media, or in person. “They will try to trick you into parting with your money, personal information, or buying goods or services that don’t exist.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Criminals are still operating despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
“As technology is advancing so is crime and we need to all remain vigilant around what messages we receive online and who we receive them from.
“Fake emails can look extremely convincing and professional but I would urge the public to check the email address the email has come from and do not click on any links within the email.
“These criminals can target the public from anywhere in the world, which can make them harder to catch.
“Coronavirus is a serious matter and we all want to protect ourselves as best we can and these criminals will use this as a way to try and gain access to your finances.
“Please be vigilant and report anything suspicious to Action Fraud.”
Some simple tips to steer clear of fraud:
If you are approached unexpectedly, remember to:
· Stop: Taking a moment to think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
· Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
· Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
· The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
· Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
· Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.
· To keep yourself secure online, ensure you are using the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phones, tablets and laptops. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you don’t have to worry.
If you think you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.
You can report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
You can report suspicious emails by forwarding the original message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An automated system will scan the email and if malicious links are found, the associated website will be taken down.