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Coronavirus phone scam warning

Coronavirus phone scam warning

Published by Lisa Darvill at 7:28am 16th March 2020.

People are being warned to be extra vigilant as scam callers are likely to ramp up their activity to take advantage of increasing amounts of people being at home due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

  • Fraudsters will 'take advantage' of the UK goes into lockdown 
  • CPR call blocker is predicting the rise 
  • It thinks scammers will pretend to be the police, banks, and HMRC 
  • It's issued advice to stay safe 

CPR Call Blocker, makers of a call-blocking device, is predicting that scammers and fraudsters will be ready to strike and take advantage of the situation if the UK goes into lockdown, as has happened in Italy, forcing people to stay at home and is warning people in Yorkshire to be on their guard. 

The top five active scams that people should watch out for:

1. Police scam - you may receive a call from someone claiming to be a police officer or detective who convinces you to withdraw funds and hand them over to an investigator. They may give you a fake crime number and investigation details. They also convince you not to trust bank staff. In some cases, people are asked to call 999 or 101 to verify the call is genuine but the scammers keep the line open, so you are actually talking to them. 

2. Amazon Prime scam - you may get a call from someone claiming to be from Amazon Prime saying you've been charged for an annual subscription. They then tell you that fraudsters have hacked your account to authorise payment, but it can be cancelled if you press 1 and then give access to your bank account in order to undo the hack. Amazon Prime would never ask you to do this.

3. Bank scam - someone may call claiming to be from your bank saying there's a problem with your card or account. They may ask for your account, card and PIN details. They may also advise transferring your money to a 'safe' account to protect it. A bank would never ask you to do this.

4. HMRC scam - you may get a call from someone claiming to be from HMRC saying there is an issue with your tax refund or an unpaid tax bill. They leave a message asking you to call back. HMRC would never contact you in this way and ask for personal information and bank details.

5. Compensation scam - you receive a call to tell you that you are due compensation for a vehicle/work accident, and you are then asked to provide personal details and/or pay an admin fee to proceed.

6. Computer repair scam - an old one, but still very popular. Someone calls claiming to be from a well-known IT firm such as Microsoft to tell you your computer has a virus. They will ask you to download 'anti-virus software' which may cost but also turns out to be spyware, used to get your personal details. IT companies don't contact customers this way.

Chelsea Davies from CPR Call Blocker said:

"If restrictions are put in place in the UK, as we have seen in Italy, we predict that scammers are going to take advantage of more people being at home and, with many of those people also being distracted or stressed about the Coronavirus situation, this could be a recipe for disaster. When we're feeling vulnerable or distracted, it can be too easy to say "yes" to something without checking first whether it's genuine. 

"We're warning people in Yorkshire to bear this in mind and we would always strongly recommend never giving your bank details or paying for something over the phone that you're unsure of."

How to protect yourself:

  • Don't reveal personal details. Never give out personal or financial information such as your bank account details or PIN - even if the caller claims to be from your bank
  • Hang up. If you feel harassed or intimidated, end the call. You have the right not to feel pressurised
  • Ring the organisation. If you're unsure whether the caller is genuine, you can always ring the company they claim to be from. Make sure you find the number yourself and don't use one provided by the caller
  • Don't be rushed. Scammers will try to rush you into providing personal details. They may say they have a time-limited offer or claim your bank account is at risk if you don't give them the information they need right away.

If you want to stop receiving calls you can:

  • Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service - call 0845 070 0707 or visit www.tpsonline.org.uk
  • Don't consent to being contacted - get your phone number taken off directories and look out for tick boxed on all marketing correspondence to see if ticking or unticking them will prevent your details being passed on to third parties
  • Consider getting a call blocker.