Many people in Scotland are already struggling financially due to the impact of Coronavirus on their finances.
And unfortunately, one crisis offers an opportunity to another. Already, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau says that victims have already lost almost a million pounds to coronavirus scams.
We’ve included details of some of the most common scams and advice on how to avoid them.
As well as taking a look for yourself at this advice, Trust Deed Scotland® urges you to share this advice using and make sure the older and more vulnerable people in your life know how to keep themselves and their money safe.
Text Message Scams
Trust Deed Scotland® has learned that some of the worst Coronavirus scams uncovered so far have been delivered by text message. Such is our mistrust of unsolicited SMS messaging, many people took to social media to report the Government’s own SMS text.
The UK government has only sent out one official text message thus far to the Scottish public. It reads:
‘GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info & exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.’
If you have seen any other text messages claiming to be from the government. They may say that you can claim money, or that you must pay a fine for leaving the house.
These unsolicited SMS messages are fraudulent. Don’t click on any links, give out any personal details, or do anything that these text messages may ask you to do.
Debt Advice Coronavirus Scams
Trust Deed Scotland®, the UKs leading debt advice company, with thousands of reviews on Trustpilot with a rank of 1st out of 32, has learned of companies impersonating us during the Coronavirus crisis.
If you have received a cold call or text message out of the blue, trust that it is not Trust Deed Scotland®. Our clients have informed us that ‘clones’ have called them pretending to be from ourselves.
We’re advising anyone who receives any unsolicited calls or text messages from any purporting to be from Trust Deed Scotland® to get in touch with us on 0141 221 0999.
Trust Deed Scotland® does not charge setup fees for our advice or services and will never ask you for any upfront setup fees for our services, nor should any other reputable FCA regulated firm.
It’s not only Trust Deed Scotland® that is being targeted in such a manner but also debt charities such as Citizens Advice Scotland, Stepchange and Christians Again Poverty.
While the government is working hard to help Scottish residents, including new legislation intended to help people threatened with action such as Wage Arrestment, in their newest Coronavirus 2020 Bill, the government themselves do not contact individuals directly offering Trust Deeds or Debt Arrangement Schemes.
Similarly, the government doesn’t pass this task out to other companies to carry out on their behalf, therefore any phone calls that you receive, text messages or adverts that you see on Google, Facebook or anywhere else offering ‘Government approved schemes’ or ‘Government approved debt help’ should be immediately disregarded as potentially fraudulent.
Other Coranavirus Scams to look out for
Some people have reported calls or emails from scammers imitating insurance firms.
They may offer you life insurance, or help to recover money lost from holidays or weddings cancelled due to coronavirus.
Financial services scams
Emails are circulating that invite people to pay upfront to take out a loan or another form of credit.
And if you receive any contact from your bank, make sure it’s really them – see the Know Fraud, No Fraud.
Online shopping scams
PPE products, commonly face masks and hand sanitiser, are being sold at inflated prices.
Not only should you be wary of unscrupulous individuals selling these products, but also some of the world’s best-known online shopping vendors selling products at greatly inflated prices and there have been reports that these items don’t even arrive.
Using the uncertainty around stockmarkets to advise you to invest or move existing investments into non-standard investments.
Coronavirus Phishing scam emails
These are always common at all times. However, an increasing number lot of criminals have added a coronavirus slant to their usual phishing scams.
Be very wary of emails claiming to be from HMRC or the NHS.
Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails. Indications that an email you receive may not be genuine include a lot of spelling/and or grammar mistakes, a long or complicated email address, and anything that asks for your financial details.
Spammers often buy domains that mimic a brand’s identity. E.g. by adding hyphens in a domain name; this is a well-known and proven scam; particularly for a financial advice website. Domain name hyphen? Chuck it in the bin.
Never respond to unexpected messages or calls asking for your personal details or bank details. Even if the callers claim to be from an organisation that you know, like your bank or an insurance firm, or even Trust Deed Scotland® remember that it may not be genuine.
The British Bankers’ Association run a campaign called Know Fraud, No Fraud, which lists eight things your bank will never do when they call you or email you.
- Call or email to ask you for your full PIN number or any online banking passwords
- Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else
- Ask you to email or text personal or banking information
- Send an email with a link to a page which asks you to enter your online banking log-in details
- Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash
- Call to advise you to buy diamonds or land or other commodities
- Ask you to carry out a test transaction online
- Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank’s official apps
Likewise, if you receive a suspicious call and you’re not sure hang up, restart your phone, then call the company on a number that you know is genuine.
Anyone delivering goods and services of any description will be observing social distance guidelines whether you ordered the service or not. These should be easy to spot because nobody should be coming to your door at the moment at all.
There have been reports of criminals taking advantage of people who are self-isolating or working from home. They may pretend to sell cleaning services, or offer to get your messages in as we say in Scotland.
Turn away any strangers offering services such as cleaning the inside of your house.
Don’t give anyone your money, bank cards or credit cards to anyone offering to run errands for you.
Ask for ID from anyone who says they are from a utilities company, health service or similar.
Please make sure that any older and vulnerable loved ones are alert to these risks too.
Protect Yourself Against Coronavirus Scams
As well as the steps above, you can further protect yourself against Coronavirus scams by:
- always installing the latest software and app updates to protect your phone, tablet or laptop
- Where possible, ask a friend or family member for a second opinion before completing any purchases online
- Calling the organisation that you contacted direct
- Asking for FCA credentials
Coronavirus Financial Advice
At Trust Deed Scotland® we understand that debt can be overwhelming,
You may be finding it difficult to cope already and with the current conditions, this may be causing you to worry further about how you will afford to repay your unsecured debt, don’t worry every year we help thousands of Scottish residents enjoy a debt free future.
To get started, call us on 0141 221 0999 or try our Trust Deed Wizard®