Warning over pensioners and holidaymakers being targeted by coronavirus fraudsters

Pensioners and holidaymakers are being targeted by fraudsters who are trying to make the most out of the coronavirus crisis, a fraud prevention service has warned.

Cifas has said criminals are targeting people who are waiting for refunds on cruises and those nearing retirement, to exploit their concerns over coronavirus.

The not-for-profit organisation is warning the public to stay vigilant regarding the changing tactics scammer are using in the wake of the pandemic.

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Amber Burridge, head of intelligence for Cifas, said: "Weeks into lockdown, and we are still seeing fraudsters adopting new ways to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to defraud innocent members of the public.

Fraudsters are coming up with new ways to trick people out of money during the coronavirus pandemic.

Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshirecoronavirus"Always be vigilant of fraudsters and never let your guard down – especially in the current climate. Remember that criminals are preying on people’s fear and anxieties around the pandemic, so never be rushed or pressured into handing over your bank or personal details – no matter how legitimate a request appears."

The scams which have been reported to it this week are below:

Cruise-related credit card scams

Cruise passengers waiting for refunds or Future Cruise Credits (FCCs) due to the cancellation of their holidays are being targeted by emails purporting to be from their holiday organiser. These emails ask travellers for their credit card numbers claiming it will help to process their refund more quickly. Travellers have also reported being contacted by phone calls confirming they are due a refund and asking for their bank account details.

Cifas is reminding holidaymakers to be vigilant of scams offering refunds or rebookings. If you receive a call or text purporting to be from a travel company wanting to discuss a refund or rebooking a holiday, then contact the party you booked your holiday with directly. Do not use the contact information or links in an email or text message.

Increase in pandemic pension scammers

Unscrupulous scammers are currently targeting the pensions of those people in or nearing retirement. Research from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has already uncovered some concerning statistics around pension scams, and Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud reporting centre, has recorded total losses of nearly £970,000 owing to Covid-19 fraud in February and March, with a marked increase in online fraud specifically.

Anyone contacted by someone purporting to be from an investment company or pension provider can check whether a company is genuine at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart, and never give financial or personal information to anyone – it could be used to steal your identity.

TV Licencing email scams

During the coronavirus lockdown there has been an increase in TV Licensing phishing scams. These emails demand victims renew their TV license immediately as their direct debit has been declined or the payment details are out of date. Recipients are also told that they will be fined if they fail to pay. Other emails are claiming that the licence holder has overpaid and is due a refund, and that they need bank details to process this payment.

Cifas is reminding people that if they receive an unsolicited email or call, to never give out their bank details. If you are unsure as to whether a TV Licensing email is genuine, visit the official TV Licensing website or use the contact information on that official site.

Recruitment fraud

Fraudsters are contacting jobseekers through social media and other messaging platforms (such as WhatsApp) asking them to share their personal details or pay money to begin the application process for a job. In order to appear more legitimate, job adverts use the branding of large corporate organisations as well as information from their websites.

Cifas is reminding jobseekers that if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking them to apply for a role, not to give out their personal information. If they claim to be calling from an agency or a company, then call them back on an officially recognised number.

Romance scams on the rise

Criminals are exploiting loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown to take money from people looking for romance online. These fraudsters are skilled at conning money and personal details from their victims as part of seemingly normal conversation.

To help avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam, remember never to send money, financial details or offer too many personal details to someone online. For those needing more help and support, Victim Support offers free, confidential advice via Support line on 0808 1689 111 or visit their website www.victimsupport.org.uk.


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