'Relentless' fraudsters advertising fake government helpline number - Cifas scam warning

Fraudsters are circulating fake adverts for government advice lines, with unsuspecting callers being charged as much as £30 a call.

Sunday, 12th July 2020, 6:00 am

Fraud prevention service Cifas is highlighting the new scams as it warns the public to stay vigilant of the ever-changing methods that scammers are using to extract money and information.

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Amber Burridge, its head of fraud intelligence, said: "Fraudsters have been relentless in their pursuit of stealing money and information from innocent members of the public throughout the pandemic.

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The Yorkshire Evening Post's Stop the Scammers campaign aims to raise awareness of the tactics being used by criminals.

"My advice to anyone who receives an unsolicited call, email or text is that taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

"Remember that criminals go to great lengths to look and sound genuine, and so question any uninvited approaches – no matter how legitimate they appear to be."

Raising awareness of such scams is a key strand of the Yorkshire Evening Post's Stop the Scammers campaign, which aims to educate people on spotting the signs and where support is available if you fall victim to fraud.

The latest scams highlighted by Cifas are:

Unsuspecting callers being charged as much as 30 when they ring the fake government helplines, Cifas has warned.

Covid-19 relief fund fraud

Cifas is warning the public to be aware of fraudulent emails claiming to be from ‘LSDSM Organisation’ with the subject ‘COVID-19 RELIEF FUND’. These emails claim to offer £12.5m in relief funds to selected individuals in order to ‘purchase and distribute relief materials for the control of Covid-19’ within their region.

Recipients are asked to contact an email address for further information on how to claim this fund, and these emails have been sent from a variety of email addresses, all linked to a University in Colombia.

Anyone receiving this or similar emails should delete them immediately – it is a scam.

Premium Rate Number Scams

A number of fake adverts for government advice lines have been circulating, with unsuspecting callers being charged as much as £30 a call. Help with renewing car tax and driving licences, and enquiries about completing tax returns are some of the areas currently prone to premium-rate number scams.

Anyone needing to contact a government department should remember that no official government service would ever use an 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098 number. Only use the contact numbers provided on the relevant government department website.

HSBC Smishing Scam

HSBC customers have reported receiving text messages purporting to be from the bank informing them that ‘a new payment has been made’ through their HSBC app.

The recipients are told that if they are not responsible for this payment, then they need to validate their bank account using a link that leads to a fake landing page where they are encouraged to input their username and password.

Cifas is reminding people that if they receive an email or a text unexpectedly, they should never share personal or financial information or click on links provided – no matter how legitimate they appear.

Office 365 Phishing Attacks Now Use Fake Zoom Suspension Alerts

Microsoft Office 365 users are being targeted by a new phishing campaign warning that their Zoom accounts have been suspended, and to provide their Office 365 logins to reinstate the service. This phishing campaign is believed to have targeted more than 50,000 mailboxes.

It is likely that homeworkers relying on conference platforms are being targeted by this scam, and so it is important to remember never to rush to click on links or provide information that can be used for identity fraud.

Anyone that believes they have been the victim of a scam should contact their bank or financial service provider immediately and report the fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via the Action Fraud website.

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