More people have been shopping online due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, and horrifyingly, scammers have been attempting to take advantage of these changes in habits. There’s a wealth of ways in which fraudsters carry out scams – from vaccine surveys to Census scams.
The fraud prevention service Cifas highlighted some of these coronavirus scams last month in its latest scam updates.
Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: “The Census is providing criminals with a unique opportunity to steal people’s personal and financial data which can be used to commit identity theft.
“ONS [the Office for National Statistics] has confirmed that they will never call people and ask for this type of personal information, and if anyone is contacted by someone wanting to discuss their Census form then they must hang up immediately and report the incident to Action Fraud.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen that fraudsters have been quick to respond to new and emerging issues in order to steal information and money.
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“Although lockdown will begin to ease over the next few months, criminals will try even harder to use opportunities such as the vaccine roll-out to commit fraud.
“Now is not the time to be letting our guard down, and we must continue to be ever vigilant of the threat of fraud.”
Many members of the public who have received scam attempts or suspicious messages have shared their experience on social media.
Among them, some have been contacted by fraudsters claiming to be from Amazon.
Writing on Twitter, one person asked: “Does anyone know what happens when you Press one on the Amazon Prime scam calls?
“I pressed one but hung up right away. Should I be nervous???”
The verified Amazon Help Twitter account responded to this message, flagging a guide on how to check if a message is from Amazon, and how to report it.
The tweet signposted the “Identifying Whether an Email, Phone Call, Text Message, or Webpage is from Amazon” page.
In the guide, Amazon states people should not “open any attachments or click any links from suspicious emails or text messages”.
Amazon.com also listed things which suspicious or fraudulent emails, text messages or webpages may contain.
It includes “links to websites that look like Amazon.com, but aren’t Amazon”.
Another warning sign that it could be a scam is if the message refers to an unexpected order confirmation.
Amazon said the message could contain: “An order confirmation for an item you didn’t purchase or an attachment to an order confirmation.”
The guide added: “Requests to update payment information that are not linked to an Amazon order you placed or an Amazon service you subscribed to.
“Attachments or prompts to install software on your device.
“Typos or grammatical errors.
“Forged email addresses to make it look like the email is coming from Amazon.com.”
On phone calls, there’s a very important warning about what a genuine Amazon caller will never do.
“While some departments at Amazon will make outbound calls to customers, Amazon will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information, or offer you a refund you do not expect,” the guide said.
“We recommend that you report any suspicious or fraudulent correspondence.”