There have always been plenty of scams doing the rounds, but the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more appearing than ever before.
What do scams look like?
Whilst some of these messages are obviously bogus, others are written in realistic language and initially look legitimate. Recent examples include notifications of tax refunds, fines, account breaches, Office 365 subscriptions, and “goodwill payments” being sent to businesses and individuals to help them recover income lost during COVID-19.
It’s crucial to remember that HMRC, banks and the government will never send sensitive information in this way. They also wouldn’t ask you to click a link, as this is where the scammers can gain access to your data or send viruses and malware into your devices.
How are they sent?
Scammers are using a variety of platforms to send these malicious communications, including:
Social media posts
What should I do?
First of all, don’t panic. The scammer can only cause damage if you click on a link, send them information or visit the website they’ve shared with you.
Before you delete it, take a note of the email address, phone number or social media account, as well as the content of the message. Email this to email@example.com so that HMRC can carry out further investigation and hopefully track down the scammer.
If it’s a text message, you can either email the information to HMRC using the address above or forward the SMS to 60599 (network charges apply).
If the message is claiming to be from your bank or building society, contact them directly to give the full details.
Once you’ve reported the illegal activity, make sure to delete the original message. You can also block the sender before doing this, although you will most likely still receive other scams from alternate numbers and email addresses in the future. Still, the more that are blocked and reported, the fewer that will make it through to your devices.
Why report it?
We understand that you’re busy, but taking a minute out of your day to report these messages will play a role in catching the culprits, as well as lessening the frequency of phishing scams overall.
On top of this, talking to other business owners about your experience with scams will help them to be vigilant of counterfeit communications themselves. Make sure to tell all of your employees too, as some may not realise how prevalent and sneaky scammers can be.