10 Covid scams you need to be on high alert for including fake council tax reduction emails


FRAUDSTERS are taking advantage of people’s fears surrounding Covid and lockdown with sneaky scams designed to steal money, the public have been warned.

A fresh alert shows the ten most common scams people should be on the lookout for to avoid falling victim to unscrupulous criminals and losing their hard-earned cash.

Fraudsters are using the coronavirus crisis to take advantage of unknowing victims

Many of the scams take advantage of the real financial support schemes put in place by the government to help people manage during the pandemic, while others prey on health fears.

People are being asked to think before parting with their money or personal information and be wary about these top ten scams.

The new warning was issued by Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at trade body UK Finance.

She said: “During this pandemic we have seen criminals using sophisticated methods to callously exploit people’s financial concerns, impersonating trusted organisations like the NHS or HMRC, to trick them into giving away their money or information.”

1. Fake council tax reduction email

Emails which look like they come from the government offering cheaper council tax bills are just one of the scams people are falling for.

These messages can often look very real, but they direct victims to a fake government website where they are encouraged to enter personal and financial information.

Council tax bill reductions are available for some people and in certain circumstances but you should never be contacted out of the blue about this.

You can find out if you’re eligible on the GOV.uk website.

Police have previously warned people of the dangers of this scam.

2. Dodgy Universal Credit applications

With many more people out of work, scammers are targeting those seeking support.

They promise to help people make an application for Universal Credit and ask for payment in advance for this “service”.

But applying for Universal Credit or any other benefit never requires such a payment.

Learn more about Universal Credit and if you’re eligible to claim.

3. Free money from the government

Fake emails designed to look like they are from government departments are fooling people by offering grants of up to £7,500.

Victims are then tricked into sharing their personal or financial information, usually through a fake website.

Website addresses that are inconsistent with the legitimate organisation are one of the signs that can help you spot a scam.

4. Access to Covid funds

Similar emails offer access to “Covid-19 relief funds” to try and snatch your personal information.

Another red flag for scams is an email, text message or phone call that asks for financial information, especially one out of the blue or asking for immediate payment.

5. Scam Covid contact

Unscrupulous criminals are even taking advantage of the NHS Test and Trace system.

A fake message will claim you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid and encourages you to click a link.

This takes you to a website designed to steal your personal financial information, or it infects your computer or phone with malware.  

6. Bogus safety products

Fake hand sanitiser and face masks are being sold online.

Either they are ineffective or simply don’t turn up after you’ve ordered and paid for them leaving you out of pocket.

Shoppers should always check purchases are made from reputable shops or websites.

7. Free TV Licences

Texts and emails claiming to be from TV Licensing promise a free TV Licence for six months because of the pandemic.

Scammers tempt you to click on a link to sort out a Direct Debit “problem”.

But instead, they steal your personal and financial information via a fake website.

Tvlicensing.co.uk is the official website. 

8. TV subscription service scam

Criminals send convincing looking emails pretending to be from online TV subscription services.

They claim payment details need updating to continue using the service in order to steal your credit or debit card details.

Scammers are also tricking people with emails claiming to offer a year’s free subscription.

9.  Romance cons

Online daters are being manipulated by con artists.

They use fake profiles or impersonate real people and manipulate victims into sending them money.

This is often done over a long period of time and victims believe the relationship is real and the person is trustworthy.

Discover how one woman is seeking to expose online dating scammers and how you can protect yourself.

10. Fake investment opportunities

Adverts on social media and emails are tempting victims to invest their money and “take advantage of the financial downturn”.

Often these opportunities are related to bitcoin.

But these “opportunities” are actually fake and designed to steal your money.

Scam online ads also target motorists.

Facebook users are being warned about a fake Home Bargains group which is trying to steal personal details.

A new TV Licensing coronavirus scam is doing the rounds as Action Fraud warns of a spike in fake emails.

Meanwhile, Amazon shoppers have been warned not to hand over bank details in a call scam.