Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Coronavirus Scams
Date: 04 May 2021
Scams are among the most prevalent types of crime in the UK, and coronavirus is giving fraudsters new opportunities to take advantage of people. It can happen to anyone, but older people can be particularly vulnerable to scams. If you care for an elderly relative, pass on some of the information below and make sure they’re aware of what to do if they feel suspicious about a call, email or visitor.
These are some of the scams to be aware of and ways to protect yourself against them:
Phishing Emails and Texts
Phishing is when criminals send emails or texts that try to get you to give away sensitive information, or click on a link that downloads a virus so they can steal your passwords.
Coronavirus-related emails and texts have appeared, aiming to trick people into opening malicious attachments, giving away their passwords, or donating money via a website. These often claim to be from the World Health Organization or the UK Government.
If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to email@example.com. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.
- Being suspicious of unsolicited emails and texts. If you’re not certain why you’ve received a message, don’t click on any of the links within it.
- Reviewing the tone and grammar. Phishing emails and texts are designed to scare you into clicking on their links, so their tone is often urgent.
- Typos, clumsily written sentences, and strange punctuation are also signs of scam messages.
- Double checking the domain and subject line. Scammers set up addresses that look legitimate, but they won’t be quite right. They often contain odd ‘spe11ings’ to try to get around spam filters.
Scam Callers and Visitors
Scammers are calling homes, claiming to be from authorities like the police, HMRC, your GP surgery or your bank. These calls try to get you to transfer money or give sensitive information. Others ask you to press a button, which connects you to a premium number, making you liable for a costly phone call.
There have also been reports of criminals knocking on people’s doors, offering to test them for coronavirus and charging them for doing so. Others are claiming to sell things like protective face masks or hand sanitiser. Older people are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of scams.
- Hanging up the phone or calling back. If you’re not sure who’s calling, simply hang up. Or tell them you’ll call them back, but use a number you trust, not the number they give you. If they say it’s the police, you can call back on 101.
- Don’t feel pressured. Never give your personal information, sign a contract, or hand over money straight away. Even if it seems legitimate, take time to think about it and talk to someone you trust like a loved one.
- Check their credentials. You should always ask to see someone’s ID if they knock on your door. A genuine person won’t mind. So, if they don’t have ID, shut the door.
If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, you can report this to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. Action Fraud is the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Reports of fraud and any other financial crime in Scotland should be reported to Police Scotland via 101.
- Action Fraud has up-to-date information on recent scams and how to report them. Visit
- Ofcom have advice on coronavirus scam calls and texts and what to look out for. See their guides to dealing with nuisance calls and messages, and ‘missed call’ scams.
- Money Saving Expert has details of some of the coronavirus scams to watch out for and tips on protecting yourself.
*Please note that this article is general signposting and is not a specific endorsement or recommendation by Bright Horizons. Should you utilise or download any resources, any exchange of data is solely between you and that provider – please note that the resources may be subject to their own terms and conditions and / or privacy notice. (As Bright Horizons has no control of the contents of the external resources, it can assume no responsibility or liability for these resources or the provider’s use of any data you share with them.)