Coronavirus scams are on the rise – here’s how to protect yourself

Coronavirus scams are on the rise – here’s how to protect yourself

Fraudsters are targetting the elderly and the vulnerable with fake emails and are also offering to do their shopping

Stephen Little
Fri, 03/20/2020 – 11:40

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Reports of coronavirus related scams have grown 400% in the space of a month, according to Action Fraud.

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived.

It also says it has received over 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails.

Superintendent Sanjay Andersen, head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, says: “The majority of scams we are seeing relate to the online sale of protective items, and items that are in short supply across the country, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’re advising people not to panic and to think about the purchase they are making. When you’re online shopping it’s important to do your research and look at reviews of the site you are buying from.”

Scams to be aware of

Shopping scam

Widespread panic buying means many people are turning to online market places such as eBay to buy items they can’t get in the shops.

Fraudsters are now preying on the fears of people by using online marketplaces to sell hand sanitiser, face masks and other items which then fail to arrive.

Red Cross scam

There have been reports across the UK of fraudsters pretending to be from the Red Cross and offering to do the shopping for the elderly and vulnerable, taking their money and then not returning.

Fraudsters are also putting cards through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help.

Another similar scam involves fraudsters pretending to be NHS staff and collecting money for a coronavirus vaccine.

Phishing emails

Phishing emails attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details.

Fraudsters have been claiming to be from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in order to trick victims.

They say they will provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but the link takes them to a malicious web page or they are asked to make a donation of support with a payment into a Bitcoin account.

Another phishing scam includes articles on the coronavirus which link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.

Investment scams

Fraudsters are also sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.

They will often contact people through emails, professional looking websites and social media channels, such as Facebook and Instagram.

These too-good-to-be-true proposals usually offer high returns for little risk in a bid to trick investors.

HMRC fraud

Another scam involves a fake HMRC email offering a tax refund which links to fraudulant website which is used to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo, making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.

How to protect yourself

Red Cross scam – The Red Cross is not using a postcard system in connection with the coronavirus. 

The Government is advising those that need assistance to ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services.

If this is not possible, then the public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home.

People who have come across this scam are being advised to contact Trading Standards on 0808 223 1133.

Online shopping – Before you buy anything online make sure you do your research and check reviews to see if a seller is genuine.

Ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

Phishing – Fraudsters will often use phishing texts and mails to get hold of your personal information, so make sure you don’t give out any of your personal details or passwords.

Opening links – Always be careful of opening links on your phone and delete anything suspicious. Hackers can install malware on your phone which can be used to steal information and personal data.

Get up-to-date virus software – Having the latest anti-virus software will give you an added layer of protection from the fraudsters and protect you from malware.

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Enjoy a remote movie night or a virtual gallery tour: Four ways to stay connected at home

Enjoy a remote movie night or a virtual gallery tour: Four ways to stay connected at home

Remote movie nights, online book clubs and virtual tours, here’s how to stay connected during self isolation

Brean Horne
Fri, 03/20/2020 – 11:33

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The government is calling for more people to practice social distancing by avoiding all non-essential contact to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

It has urged people to work from home, where possible, and will also close schools from 20 March 2020. 

Being confined to our homes may leave some feeling detached and isolated from their everyday life. 

There are a number of ways to stay in touch with your loved ones and maintain a healthy lifestyle indoors too. 

We round up four ways to stay connected and entertained without having to step outside. 

1) Watch TV and films together

Movies nights are back on the agenda with a browser feature that lets you stream with your friends remotely.

Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension, which enables users to watch the same shows and movies simultaneously from the comfort of their own homes.

The platform also allows you to message each other in a chatroom which pops up on the right-hand side of the screen.

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To access Netflix Party, you’ll need to use a Google Chrome browser. Once you go to the Netflix Party website, you’ll be able to add the extension to your browser.

Once added, simply log into you Netflix account and pick something to watch and start your watch party.

Netflix Party, is a great way of keeping in touch with your family and friends, while catching up on the latest shows and films.

2) Join an online book club

Books can help inspire the imagination and transport you into different worlds.

If you’re an avid reader or looking for the motivation to get started on your next book, an online book club could help you on your literary journey.

Good Housekeeping, for example, picks a book each month for members to read and discuss in online forums. To sign up simply go to their website.

There are lots of online book clubs to check out as well.

A quick search online ill help you find one that best suits your reading tastes.

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3) Take in some arts and culture

Why not transport yourself to one of the world’s most famous cultural institutions?

Google Arts & Culture is an online platform that gives you access to over 2,500 galleries and museums across the globe.

From London’s Tate Modern to the Frida Khalo Museum in Mexico, you can wonder through the halls and view exhibitions without having to leave your home.

The Louvre, in Paris, and the Vatican museum offer virtual tours of some exhibitions online too.

You can also choose from different virtual guided audio walking tours ,which capture street art from around the world.

Simply  head over to Street Art with Google Art Project to choose your next tour.

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4) Join a fitness studio for free

As more gyms start to close amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeping active can become tricky.

There are lots of online fitness alternatives to try, which can be done at home.

The NHS offers free exercise videos on its website. Workouts range from aerobics to pilates and yoga.

Fitness Blender also offers a wide range of free home workouts to help you keep active too.  

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