SCAMSHARE: Stop pesky scammers – 2

In this edition of Scam Share we’ll look at some of the most recent scams which have been reported by consumers across Scotland, including those related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since the National Cyber Security Centre launched their Suspicious Email Reporting Service two months ago, they have received one million reportsfrom the public about scam emails. This has led to the removal of over 10,000 malicious URLs, over half of which were linked to cryptocurrency scams. If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to reporting@phishing.gov.uk

It’s more important than ever to make sure that you stay Scam Aware and that you share information about scams with vulnerable relatives or friends. If you are worried about a vulnerable individual who is at risk from phone scams, visit our website to apply for a free call blocker.
Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for information about the latest scams reported by Scottish consumers.

Stay safe while online at home and report all scams to Advice Direct Scotlandon 0808 164 6000. Report scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.Shut out ScammersDuring the nationwide Shut out Scammers campaign, run in partnership with Police Scotland from 15-26 June, a bogus trader was sentenced to four years in prison after targeting elderly and vulnerable householders in Ayrshire. 
The scammer would knock on doors and claim to be a gardener or window cleaner, asking for money for services or repairs which were never completed.Find out about avoiding doorstep scams on our website and sign up to the Neighbourhood Watch Scotland Alert system to receive timely alerts about local crime prevention and safety issues from partners such as Police Scotland. If there are known rogue traders in your area, you will be alerted.

Unsolicited calls are one of the most popular methods used by scammers and unscrupulous businesses to reach people. Trading Standards Scotland is rolling out free call blocking devices to vulnerable individuals who are most at risk from scammers and rogue traders – find out more about call blockers and how to apply for a device on our website.Holiday ScamsAmidst continuing uncertainty about travel restrictions, banking industry body UK Finance has warned consumers to be wary of holiday scams, including fake caravan listings, refund offers and travel deals. Some of the scams to be aware of include: Fake listings for caravans/motorhomes at low prices on social media or auction sites. Potential buyers are told that they can’t view the caravan in person due to lockdown restrictions – the vehicle often doesn’t exist or isn’t delivered;
 Scam calls, emails or fake posts on social media advertising holiday refunds. You may be asked to pay an upfront fee as payment for handling a refund claim;

 Fake websites advertising cheap holiday deals. These can look similar to genuine websites, with similar URLs and ask for deposits for holidays which often don’t exist.

One Scottish consumer recently booked a holiday at a caravan park who unfortunately had their website hacked shortly afterwards. The consumer received an email asking for payment via bank transfer and they paid over £1,000 to scammers.

What to DoBe wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls or texts regarding holiday refunds. Never give any personal or financial details to a cold caller and don’t click on links in unexpected emails;If possible, pay for holidays and travel using a credit or debit card rather than via bank transfer. This will offer you more protection if you are a victim of fraud;If in doubt, contact your holiday provider via their official phone number or website.
The Take Five anti-fraud campaign has more advice for consumers on avoiding these holiday scams. 

Remember that your consumer rights have not changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you have been affected by any  travel/accommodation cancellations and are unsure about your consumer rights, contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or check  their regularly updated COVID-19 consumer website for advice and guidance.

Find links to official advice about travel/accommodation on our website.Amazon Phone ScamPolice Scotland have recently received several reports from consumers who have had cold calls purportedly from Amazon Prime. In some cases, they are told that their subscription is due for renewal and that an automatic payment will be deducted from their bank account.Other calls say that a button has been clicked and that a payment is due as a result, but that the caller can help them secure a refund.
In both cases, the caller, who appears to be phoning from within Scotland, asked consumers to visit a website and download either software or an app in order to check their account. Downloading this software will grant the scammer access to your computer.

Amazon state on their website that they will NEVER call and ask you to install an app or ask for remote access to your computer. They advise that if you receive a suspicious call, email or text claiming to be from Amazon which asks for personal information, a payment, or offers a refund you don’t expect, you should not give out any personal information.

Scottish consumers should report scam calls to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website. If you have been the victim of fraud, report this to Police Scotland on 101.

Find out more about Amazon Prime scams and other streaming service scams on our website.BT Phone ScamSeveral Scottish consumers have recently received cold calls purportedly from BT saying that their line is going to be disconnected due to suspicious activity in their area and asking them to press 1 to speak to an advisor.One consumer pressed 1 and was connected to someone in an overseas call centre. Thankfully, they realised that it was a scam and immediately hung up.

Another consumer received an automated call saying that their BT bill was going to be increased and asking them to phone a number provided to discuss their account. The consumer was not with BT, so immediately ended the call.

BT have information on their website to help consumers recognise genuine communication from them and to avoid scam calls.

General Advice for Avoiding Phone ScamsDo not press 1 or follow any other instructions given in an automated messageIf you are speaking to a person, don’t give them any personal information, don’t agree to make any payments and never allow them to access your computer remotelyContact your bank immediately if you think you may have made a payment to a scammer or if you are worried that a fraudulent transaction has been made from your account. Use the phone number on your bank statement or a publicly listed number (don’t use a number given to you by a cold caller). To ensure that you are disconnected from the cold caller, phone another number such as 123 before phoning your bank or call them from another phone.Never agree to make a payment for goods or services on the spot – get at least two other quotes from trusted companies.Report scam calls to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website. If you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101British Gas ScamAction Fraud have received over 2,500 complaints about scam British Gas emails, which lead to fake websites designed to harvest your personal and financial information.
The emails say that your gas service will be cut off if you don’t pay an outstanding bill and ask you to click on a link to make a payment.British Gas have information on their website about recognising genuine communications from them and avoiding phishing emails.

Report scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.Pension ScamsAs research from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pension Scams has found that it is increasingly likely that pension savers will be contacted by scammers via phone or online while at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, the work and pensions committee has this week been called on to open a formal inquiry into pension scams.The Association of British Insurers (ABI) advises consumers not to respond to unsolicited calls, emails or texts about pension reviews and to check that a provider is authorised by the FCA before dealing with them.

Visit the Pensions Advisory Service website or the Government’s Pensionwise web page for free and impartial advice about pensions and visit the FCA’s Scam Smart website to find out more about avoiding pension scams.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland and if you have been the victim of fraud, report this to Police Scotland on 101.Life Insurance & Banking ScamsScottish consumers have recently received cold calls saying that they are due to receive a sizeable life insurance refund. They are asked to provide personal and financial details in order to process the payment.Age Scotland have also warned about banking scams after a man in his 80s from East Dunbartonshire almost fell victim to a sophisticated phone scam last month.

He received a call from his bank’s phone number, which had been cloned by scammers, and was told that there had been fraudulent transactions on his account. He was asked to transfer money to a new account and was given a new number and sort code. Thankfully, he was suspicious and contacted his bank independently – they verified that the original call had been a scam. You can listen to a discussion about this case in Age Scotland’s podcast.

Find out more about avoiding banking scams on our website.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland and if you have been the victim of fraud, report this to Police Scotland on 101.Update: HMRC ScamWe recently featured an HMRC scam targeting self-employed workers using the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The text says that the recipient is eligible for a tax refund under the scheme and asks them to click a link which leads to a fake HMRC website where they are asked for personal and financial details.Griffin Law has reported this week that this scam has evolved and that those who click the link to the fake website are now being asked to enter their passport details as ‘verification’.

HMRC regularly update their list of genuine communications to help you avoid scams.
Find out more about avoiding HMRC scams and avoiding council tax scams on our website.Business ScamsA recent study by IBM has shown that almost half of those working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic are concerned about cybersecurity risks.
Companies across the UK continue to be targeted by scammers sending fraudulent emails requesting information and financial details related to Covid-19 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants. The emails claim to be from clients or employees of the business and may ask for account or business rate reference numbers for retail outlets.

The CTSI has also recently warned about legitimate-looking emails using UK Government branding, which say that the recipient has been awarded a business grant and asking them to click on a link to access the payment.

Employees working from home are particularly vulnerable to email fraud and should remain wary of unexpected emails which request private business information or payments, even if they appear to come from someone within the company.

What to DoThink about what you are being asked to do – if in doubt about financial transactions or changes to Direct Debits get a second opinion from a colleague or managerBe cautious when working from home if you receive cold calls offering tech support for your IT system. Only deal with your official IT support desk, if you have oneConfirm requests for payment or sensitive information with the person or company who has supposedly sent them, using contact information that you know to be correctRemember that scam emails and texts can look genuine and can appear to come from Government agencies, people within your organisation and trusted companiesReport scam business emails to the National Cyber Security Centre
The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) are running a webinar next week (8 July) aimed at mid-market firms, providing advice on defending themselves against new cyber risks. Business Gateway also have online tutorials about keeping your business safe online and cyber resilience.

Find more information about business scams and links to official guidance on our website.
Illegal Money Lending UnitThe Money Advice Service have launched a new online Money Navigator tool to help people navigate their finances during the pandemic. It will provide personalised guidance to those who are facing financial difficulties and can point them to other organisations for further support.Loan sharks continue to target the most vulnerable people, particularly those who have been financially affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
If you feel that you have nowhere to turn, please remember that you are not alone. 
The Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit’s free and confidential 24-hour hotline will remain open 7 days a week throughout the lockdown period – call 0800 074 0878 or fill out our online reporting form.

Leave a Reply