Coronavirus: A golden opportunity for fraudsters to prey on the vulnerable

Unfortunately, during the current Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase
in scam emails, calls and texts which seek to exploit the coronavirus crisis and it is
the elderly and vulnerable in our society who are being targeted.

08 April 2020

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Unfortunately, during the current coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase
in scam emails, calls and texts which seek to exploit the coronavirus crisis and it is
the elderly and vulnerable in our society who are being targeted.

Most are isolated at home and may well be doing more online than they normally
would to maintain contact with the outside world. Moreover, they might also be lonely
and willing to talk to anyone on the telephone.

We are aware that fraudsters are quite literally cashing in on this situation, but there
are tell-tale signs which they should be aware of. These people will come across as
very pleasant and plausible, but, given the extraordinary times we currently face,
they’ll chance their arm to exploit any disruption or changes of circumstances.
People need to stay extra vigilant to stop the fraudsters winning!

One popular scam is a phone call or email from someone claiming to be from
HMRC.

They may claim that financial help is available or that the person is owed a tax
refund and in order to access this, there is a demand to provide personal information
such as your name, credit card or bank details over the phone or via a link. HMRC,
banks and other legitimate businesses will never contact individuals out of the blue
to ask for these details. It is important that no one ever responds to these requests.
The best way to protect yourself from fraudsters is to be aware of their latest scam
tactics and take time when deciding whether to respond. Think long and hard. Never
be pressured into doing anything quickly before you have had time to check that the
‘enquiry’ legitimate.


The Financial Conduct Authority has a “Scamsmart” page which will point out what to
look out for and how to report a scam.
 
Furthermore, if you are a carer or have dealings with looking after elderly
neighbours or relatives who may be at an increased risk, have a word with them
about remaining alert and consider getting advice on increasing the protection of any
email, social media or telephone accounts to stop scammers reaching them. With
the appropriate know-how, they can all be blocked.

Take care out there!

For advice on the issues raised in this article, contact Margaret Ross on 07754 364254.

Comment

Senior Associate and Chartered Tax Adviser

Margaret Ross