Scams round-up: what have the fraudsters been up to this month?

4 June 2019

May 2019 was a huge month for personal fraud and scams in the UK.

Unfortunately, it was not because someone has come up with a super virus to get rid of fraud tricks and scams, but because the big banks introduced a new code increasing customers protection from authorised bank fraud, such as when customers are duped into making payment to a fraudster.

It remains to be seen how much protection the new code will give but with only 20% of such losses being refunded last year everybody still needs to be very careful.

So, until we know how good the new protection is it is more important than ever that we all stay wise to the latest frauds and scams doing the rounds and keep safe.

May’s top scams

The fraudsters' favourite ‘hook’ this month has been refunds. Several of the well-known scams that always seem to be in circulation have reappeared in a slightly altered form promising refunds.

Most of these refund emails have a standard format with the words “Claim your refund” or “Get your refund” very prominent in the email. Of course, all the victim needs to do is click on a link and enter credit card details for an immediate refund, at this stage victims have given their personal and financial details to fraudsters and are very vulnerable. 

The old giveaways of misspelling and bad grammar have almost disappeared as very convincing fake emails have been circulating purporting to be from TalkTalk, Eon, HMRC and TV Licensing among others.

At Reassura we have analysed a lot of the websites that you are taken to if you click on the suggested link, please note NEVER to do this as it is dangerous - many of these sites are riddled with malware that allows criminals access to your devices.

It’s a common scam because the fraudsters know that everybody loves a refund and the chance to get an immediate one is hard to pass up.

There has also been a continuous stream of social media posts, texts and emails promising free shopping vouchers, coffees and even iPhones just for completing a survey or filling a form, quite often involving asking for your passwords etc.

Suffice to say that regardless of whether it appears to come from Costa Coffee, Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s, to just name a few that we have seen recently, these are fake and just another way to steal your personal information so please avoid.

Golden rules

The golden rules to use to stay safe from such scams are as follows:

  1. From who? – Although this email looked as if it came from the HMRC or TalkTalk etc if you click on the address you can usually see it is from somewhere else
  2. To whom? – Unless the email addresses you by name, please ignore it. Most of these fake emails either avoid a personal greeting or use Dear Client or Customer, this is a big red flag. It should be noted that due to some of the big data breaches over the last couple of years that some fake emails do include names these days and so we still need to be vigilant
  3. Don’t click! – Never click on any links or attachment, it is much safer to go separately to your HMRC or TalkTalk etc. account and see if there any action items
  4. Call them to check – it may sound a bit old fashioned but picking up the phone and calling a customer support number that you find independently is the right thing to do. The HMRC helpline is currently 0300 200 3300, have your National Insurance number ready when you call, TalkTalk is 0345 172 0088, TV Licensing is 0300 790 6131 and Eon is 0345 052 0000

In summary this month fraudsters are more active than ever trying to trick people into giving their personal and financial information.

They have changed their tactics from trying to scare people to promising refunds or free giveaways, but it’s still the same old cons. Please keep reading and talking about them to keep you and your friends and family safe.

Mark White is chief executive of scams avoidance service Reassura