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COVID-19 pandemic scams: Fake payment update texts

Posted 30/03/20

The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in scams. From doorstep to email and text, new scams themed around the spread of the virus appear every single day.

There is also an increase in more typically themed scams that do not reference the virus. A new text-based scam doing the rounds involves a fake request from phone providers to update payment information.

The recipient is sent a text supposedly by their provider, informing them that their latest bill could not be processed. The text message asks the recipient to tap a link to update their payment information. The link leads to a bogus website designed to take credit card information and steal money directly from the bank account of the recipient. The scam is not limited to impersonating any particular network provider.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in scams referencing the virus, but the public should be aware that scams along more familiar themes have also increased in frequency.

"This is an extraordinarily vulnerable time for everyone, and unscrupulous individuals see it as an opportunity to profit from the misery of others. As more people have become socially isolated, it is increasingly difficult for some to seek advice from others. I am particularly concerned about the elderly who may be less technologically savvy.

"It is especially crucial that families and wider communities inform their elder members of these scams, and to be extra vigilant and sceptical at this unprecedented time."

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: “As people stay indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, criminals are preying on people in vulnerable situations who are isolated and living alone. There’s never been a more important time for neighbours to look out for each other – particularly as we self-isolate – which is why we’re encouraging communities to prevent scams in their local area by using the free Friends Against Scams resources.

“Our online courses will help you spot a potential scam, identify people at risk and help you protect local residents from falling victims to scams. We’re urging communities to protect each other from scams and encourage people to share the latest advice with families, friends and neighbours.”

 

 ENDS

 

Notes for Editors:

CTSI Press Office: pressoffice@tsi.org.uk, 01268 582240

 

Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

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CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk



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