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Scammers Piggyback on Covid-19 Crisis

Scammers Piggyback on Covid-19 Crisis

Many public organisations such as HMRC, BBC and FCA are warning of on a surge in scam emails and texts during the Covid-19 panidemic. Con-artists are using the inevitable financial anxiety, disruption and confusion in the midst of the crisis to exploit people’s vulnerability.

Many of these scams have been around for a while and have simply been adapted to take advantage of the current situation. While snake oil scams offering fake cures and treatments may be more obvious to contractors, others are more convincing and may appear legitimate.

Scammers identify general information about certain groups or sectors, before using that information to target them. Often, a scam email or text will pass itself of as official communications from a legitimate source, such as a bank, government department, or other public organisation.

Contractors may be particularly vulnerable to scammers posing as HMRC at this time. The measures that have been put in place by the government to tackle Covid-19are presenting an opportunity for scammers to get in touch regarding financial support schemes or tax refunds. Correspondence referring to the suspension of the off-payroll reforms may also be used as a ‘hook’.

HMRC has updated its guidance information in relation to bogus communications to include many of the latest Covid-related scams. It has also issued an email warning: “If someone gets in touch claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to give information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, please do not respond.”

While contractors needn’t become unduly alarmed, they should be vigilant about any communication that asks them to click on links or reply to texts, telephone calls and emails. The aim of scammers is to ‘phish’ for personally identifiable information such as passwords, banking and credit card details that can be used to get their hands on your cash.

Correspondence with any organisations should always be through their official channels. If you receive call, text or email out of the blue that seems suspicious, then it’s best to checkwith the organisation directly via your usual means of contacting them. If you’ve already been scammed or if you’re worried, then this useful guide from consumer rights group tells you how to report a scam and get your money back.

Contracting Scout has a range of options to help you keep your contracting career on track.  We’ll be bringing you regular updates during the coming weeks, so don’t forget to check our news pages regularly, or to talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 603 1878