Omicron variant PCR test phishing emails
Criminals have already begun to use the Omicron variant to attempt to scam residents. Which? have issued a warning that scammers are already sending fake emails about the new Omicron variant of Covid, to steal personal data and bank details. For more information, advice and to see what the scam phishing emails look like, visit: https://conversation.which.co.uk/scams/omicron-variant-pcr-test-fake-email/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=scamalert021221&utm_content=Scam+alert+021221.+B&mc_cid=bcfb980f1b&mc_eid=118d081792
Warwickshire Trading Standards has been made aware of instances where by individual’s email accounts appear to have been hacked and bogus messages sent out.
The messages usually ask for the recipient’s help to buy a gift card (for a relative of the sender’s birthday). The sender normally states that they are travelling and can’t do it themselves. They may direct the email recipient to visit their local supermarket or shop and may even name the store to make the email look more authentic. The sender always promises to refund the money as soon as they can.
Victims of this crime have lost money after buying a gift cards and sending the card number to the criminals by email. The fraudsters don’t require the physical card, only card number.
The fraudsters either send out an email directly from the hacked email account to everyone in the person’s address book or copy the address book and create a new account with a similar email address (the new email might have an extra letter in it for example or use a different provider). This way, even if the victim regains control over their account, the fraudsters can continue to send out bogus emails that could be mistaken for genuine ones.
If you believe your email account has been hacked, try to change your password as soon as possible and visit your email account provider’s website for further advice.
If you have received an email that you believe is bogus, you can forward it to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) email: email@example.com For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing
Android phone malware warning
Criminal gangs are employing a malware called BRATA to infect Android phones and steal money, texts, and photographs. The malware is hidden in dangerous apps.
Victims reported receiving a bogus text purporting to be from their bank, requesting them to click on a link to download an anti-spam app. The malware is hidden in the app and allows the criminals to take over the phone, overcome two factor authentication, steal user names and passwords, and make fraudulent transactions.
Victims may also receive a phone call during the download process from a bogus bank employee, offering them help to install the app whilst in reality granting themselves access to key areas of the phone.
Be wary of any unsolicited texts, emails, or phone calls you receive from your bank.
Always interact with your bank by using the official app or website.
Give safely this Christmas
Over the past year £1.6m has been lost to charity fraud. Warwickshire residents are warned to beware of giving to non-existent charities and criminals posing as genuine charities.
Action Fraud have suggested some simple checks the public can take:
- Check the charity name and its registration number on the Charity Commission website to find out whether the charity is legitimate: https://www.gov.uk/find-charity-information
- Use the Fundraising Regulator’s online Directory to find out whether a charity has registered with it and committed to excellent fundraising: https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/directory
- Look out for the Fundraising Badge on charity marketing materials – when people see it, they can have confidence in charity’s fundraising: https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/more-from-us/about-us/fundraising-badge?utm_source=FR-email&utm_medium=signature&utm_campaign=FR-Badge-email-signature
- Ask questions about the cause – if people are still unsure about giving, they should always ask for more information. Legitimate causes will be happy to respond.
Christmas jingle helps residents to remember anti-fraud measures
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in partnership with behavioural scientists, Influence at Work, and music production company, Soviet Science, has released a Christmas jingle.
The jingle focuses specifically on loan-fee fraud in which consumers are tricked into paying an upfront fee for a loan or credit they never receive. You can watch the jingle here: https://youtu.be/9JO3o5AWikA
Bogus iPhone 13 deals
Warwickshire residents have reported receiving unsolicited emails and cold calls from criminals, falsely claiming to be Carphone Warehouse. The criminals offer ‘very good deals’ on iPhone 13s and try to get consumers to agree to enter into a contract. However, once the criminals have obtained your personal and financial information and taken payments, they disappear! Never give your personal or financial information to cold callers.
Beware scam Post Office texts
As Christmas approaches and parcel deliveries increase, residents are reporting receiving scam Post Office texts. The bogus texts state that you have missed a parcel delivery and direct you to a copycat website identical to the Post Office website. From here, people are encouraged to provide personal and financial information before they are asked to make a payment for the re-delivery of their ‘parcel’. Where possible, avoid visiting websites from links in unexpected emails and texts. Type the correct web address into a web browser.
TV licence scam
Warwickshire Trading Standards has seen reports of criminals’ door knocking elderly people claiming to be from TV Licensing. Householders are told they are no longer eligible for a free TV licence before being asked to sign a direct debit agreement to pay for their licence weekly. Never provide your personal or financial information to doorstep callers. For genuine information on TV licences, including discounts for some residents, visit: https://www.gov.uk/tv-licence
Buying goods via social media
Trading Standards has received complaints from consumers who purchased goods on social media marketplaces but never received the item. Often, the seller simply blocks the buyer and disappears. Here are some top tips if you are buying goods on social media:
- Beware of sellers who want to communicate or take payment outside official social media channels.
- Be particularly wary of anyone selling products that have a suspiciously low price or are hard to find, the item could be fake or may not even exist!
- Check out a seller’s social media profile before you buy. If it’s relatively new, then be especially cautious
It’s National Consumer Week 2021
If you’re looking to be a more environmentally friendly consumer – whether that’s buying eco-friendly products or making your home more energy efficient – it’s important to make sure you can be confident in your decisions. That’s why in National Consumer Week we are raising awareness of how people can protect themselves from misleading energy efficiency and environmental claims, such as “green scams”, rogue traders and greenwashing. With our advice and support you can arm yourselves with the knowledge and confidence you need to make the best decisions: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ncw21-advice
More help and advice
- To make a consumer complaint, obtain consumer help and advice or report an issue to Trading Standards, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
- For consumer or business help and advice, including details of our approved trader scheme, please visit our website: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards
- Sign up for regular scam alerts to your email inbox: https://mailchi.mp/warwickshire/scamawareness
- Sign up to our business advice and guidance (sector specific) email alerts: https://warwickshire.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a24b439ef7022ae0d86f9ca6e&id=d3718c62c5
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/warwickshiretradingstandards https://twitter.com/WarksTSS