One in 10 fall victim to coronavirus fraud

26 May 2020

Victims lose £550 each on average

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One in 10 UK adults have fallen victim to a coronavirus scam, losing an average of £550 each, Transunion research shows.

Nearly a quarter of UK consumers (23%) have been targeted by digital fraud over the past two months alone, the credit reference agency found.

The most common types of scam were requesting donations to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) or to fund companies claiming to offer a cure for coronavirus.

Victims also lost money to fraudsters offering goods in short supply, such as toilet roll or hand sanitiser, which never showed up when purchased.

Contacting people via email and phone were the most common methods used by fraudsters. However 12% of scams were carried out in person.

People aged 18-34 and living in major cities are most likely to fall victim and accounted for 66% of those affected by coronavirus fraud.

Men are more likely to lose money than women, with 62% of victims male and 37% female.

John Cannon, managing director of fraud and ID at TransUnion UK, says: “It is essential that people take extra care at this time and remain vigilant to fraudsters and some of their common tactics, such as phishing emails, fake websites and bogus texts.

At a time when so much community spirit is evident, we must still be cautious of direct approaches from people we do not know with an offer of help.”

How to prevent coronavirus fraud

Taking the following steps can help you reduce your risk of falling victim to fraud:

1) Ignore unsolicited messages

Avoid clicking links in emails or messages unless you are sure you know the origin.

It is okay to ignore emails that are unsolicited. Do not share any personal or financial information and be suspicious if you are asked for your password or PIN.

2) Take time out

Do not be rushed, take time to check something out if you are worried and use your common sense. If the claim seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Do not let your emotions cloud your judgement.

3) Be vigilant 

When online, make sure the webpage you are visiting is HTTPS protected or shows a green padlock, both of which can be spotted in the domain bar.

This indicates that it is secure. Check the reliability of the source. For example, legitimate websites are likely to be typo-free, in good written English and informative.

4) Stay secure

Try to avoid connecting to public WiFi when shopping online, as it tends to be less secure than personal WiFi connections.

Fraudsters can use public WiFi records to download traceable data, like location, device details and shopping habits.

When downloading apps make sure you download them through the Apple App Store or Play Store app. Downloading an app from e-mail could be a phishing attempt.

5) Check your credit report

Regularly check your credit report to help understand and protect your financial standing through the pandemic. This can also help you monitor for fraudulent activity if someone tries to use your identity in a scam.

7) Report right away

Report scams immediately to Action Fraud and contact your bank if you have lost money.

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