Fraudsters will seize opportunities for crime during any crisis. COVID-19 is proving no exception, as the UK’s test and trace scheme gets underway.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, criminals have been using the unprecedented situation as cover for scams to defraud the public.
In a previous blog post(1) we noted that crime statistics had fallen dramatically since lockdown shut businesses and left the streets deserted.
However, lockdown has created a boom in the phone and online phishing tricks that fraudsters use to target the public. At least 2,378 victims have lost £7m from coronavirus-related scams, as of 12 June, according to Action Fraud, a reporting body for scams in the UK(2).
In May the government launched the NHS test and trace scheme, used to tell anyone who has had close contact with a COVID-19 patient that they should self-isolate for a fortnight to stop the virus spreading.
As anticipated, scammers have already begun to take advantage of this contact tracing scheme.
What have we seen?
A variety of SMS texting scams have been circulating, sent to people’s mobile phones with links to false websites which can then capture sensitive details for fraudsters to exploit. Here is one such example of a scam text message with phishing link.
“Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More information at [Link to fake government site].” (3)
Another scam involves a phone call, in which the caller refuses to disclose who the householder has been in contact with but asks them to confirm their address so that a testing kit can be sent to them.(4)
What’s the advice?
NHS England advises that any telephone call or text will come from one verified NHS number: 0300 013 5000.
The genuine scheme will provide a unique ID number which you can use on the NHS Test and Trace website.
There is also this handy guide, published by consumer magazine Which?, on how to tell if the contact tracing message you receive is fake or genuine. (8)
Published Date: 2nd July 2020
This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as at 15th June 2020, but you will recognise that matters concerning COVID-19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Our advice to our clients is as an insurance broker and is provided subject to specific terms and conditions, the terms of which take precedence over any representations in this document. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with your usual contact at Risk Management Partners.
Risk Management Partners Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: The Walbrook Building, 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AW. Registered in England and Wales. Company no. 2989025
Risk Management Partners Limited is the data controller of any personal information you provide to us or personal information that has been provided to us by a third party. We collect and process information about you in order to arrange insurance policies and to process claims. Your information is also used for business purposes such as fraud prevention and detection and financial management. This may involve sharing your information with third parties such as insurers, reinsurers, other brokers, claims handlers, loss adjusters, credit reference agencies, service providers, professional advisors, our regulators, police and government agencies or fraud prevention agencies.
We may record telephone calls to help us monitor and improve the service we provide. For further information on how your information is used and your rights in relation to your information please see our privacy notice at https://rmpartners.co.uk/privacy-policy. If you are providing personal data of another individual to us, you must tell them you are providing their information to us and show them a copy of this notice.