Coronavirus: Police warn about fake texts from 'government'

Coronavirus: Police warn about fake texts from 'government'

Published by The Stray FM News Team at 1:54pm 3rd April 2020.

People in North Yorkshire are being warned about fake texts claiming to be from the government.

  • North Yorkshire Police are warning residents about scammers taking advantage of the virus outbreak. 
  • Text have been sent to people claiming they've been fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
  • The government has only sent one text message to the public about staying at home.

Scammers are sending out messages, informing people they've been fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

The fraudsters are then attempting to trick victims into handing over bank details to pay the penalty notice.

North Yorkshire Police is warning the “very clever” fraudsters are trying to trick recipients into handing over their bank details using links to unofficial websites.

The government has only sent one text message to the public about staying at home to prevent the spread of covid-19 – police say any others are false and should be ignored.

Man in suit with mobile phone

North Yorkshire Police said:

“The current national situation is causing widespread anxiety and with a lot of misinformation, rumours and speculation flying around – fraudsters are using this to their advantage.

“North Yorkshire Police has had a number of reports of fraud related to coronavirus over the last few weeks and although this is something that we predict will continue to increase, we are on hand to help keep you safe.”

According to Action Fraud, the number of coronavirus-related scams increased nationally by 400 per cent in March.

The crime reporting centre has logged 305 reports from victims of such crimes since February, with loses that total almost £970,000.

Another scam to look out for is a message claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax refund due to changes in the law around covid-19. Recipients are asked to click a link which takes them to a fake website.

Fraudsters are also pretending to be from the Centre for Disease Control or World Health Organisation and sending messages with an attachment including tips and advice to keep safe from the virus.

Police officers

North Yorkshire Police is also warning people to look out for fraudulent online sales of masks and hand sanitiser which never materialise.

The police force has given tips on how to stay safe from scams:

  • Do not click on links or open attachments in emails and text messages.
  • Take time to check emails or messages are from a legitimate source.
  • Delete any suspicious emails or text messages immediately.
  • Don’t let anyone into your home without verifying their identity and checking they have legitimate documentation or an official ID card.
  • Never give out personal or financial information over the phone.
  • Only purchase goods online from trusted and legitimate retailers and if you have one, then use a credit card as this will offer greater insurance.