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Scammers Exploiting COVID-19 With Phishing Emails

Scammers exploiting COVID-19 with phishing emails

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said it took down more than 2,000 online coronavirus scams last month. Google also reported that it was removing 18 million scamming emails a day.

NCSC said this included 471 fake online shops that were selling fraudulent virus-related items.

It coincides with new online safety advice from the agency as part of a national awareness campaign.

NCSC also launched an email reporting service, which the public can use to flag any suspicious activity.

Numerous other malware and phishing sites have been removed, as well as almost 900 advance-fee fraud schemes, where a large sum of money is promised in return for a one-off payment.

There is growing concern that criminals are hoping to capitalise on the increased usage of the internet during the pandemic.

What is phishing and why do criminals like to use it?

Cybercriminals love phishing. Unfortunately, this is not a harmless riverbank pursuit. When criminals go phishing, you are the fish and the bait is usually contained in a scam email or text message.

The criminal’s goal is to convince you to click on the links within their scam email or text message, or to give away sensitive information (such as bank details). By sending millions of these emails, they hope a small enough number of us will be tricked and voila, they have a viable criminal business! 

These messages may look like the real thing but are malicious. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords.

What should I do if I think I have received a phishing email?

If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS):

The message might be from a company you don’t normally receive communications from, or someone you do not know. You may just have a hunch. If you are suspicious, do not open it, do not click on any links, just forward it to the email above and delete it from your device!

Your report of a phishing email will help NCSC to act quickly, protecting many more people from being affected.

Pensions Regulator wars that pension pots are a key target for criminals

As part of the Regulators’ joint ScamSmart campaign, new evidence has revealed that it could take 22 years for a saver to build a pension pot of £82,000, which is the average amount victims lost to scams in 2018. But, despite this, many savers could be at risk of falling for scammers’ tactics very quickly.

The research identifies that the more educated an individual is, the more likely they may be to fall for a scam. Over-confidence in dealing in financial affairs is a trait which could result in savers missing a scam.

The Regulators recommend four steps to protect from pension scams:

  • Reject unexpected pension offers, whether made online, on social media or over the phone
  • Check who you are dealing with before changing your Pension arrangements – check the FCA Register or call the FCA helpline on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your Pension
  • Consider getting impartial information and advice

If you are ever in doubt, please contact us and we will try to help you ascertain whether or not the offer you have received is genuine.

Redwood Financial is one of the south’s leading Investments, Pensions, Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning providers and we are dedicated to helping families to grow, protect and enjoy their wealth. With our unrivalled knowledge of Estate Planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Probate, Pensions, Savings & Investments, we can advise on any situation.

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