Warning over travel refund coronavirus scams as cruel fraudsters target holidaymakers

Fraudsters are using coronavirus travel disruption to steal cash and personal information, holidaymakers have been warned.

Sunday, 2nd August 2020, 11:45 am

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has urged the public to stay vigilant and be wary of travel refund scams.

A spike in both PayPal and council tax scams have also been reported by Cifas over the last week.

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer for Cifas, said: "Fraudsters will be quick to act on the disruption to holidays caused by changes in quarantine rules this week, and holidaymakers need to be vigilant of fraudsters contacting them offering to refund or rearrange their holiday.

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"If you are contacted out of the blue then remember that just taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe."

Here is the latest advice from Cifas on scams to look out for:

Warning issued of holiday refund scams

With a large number of holidays being disrupted this week as a result of coronavirus outbreaks, Cifas is warning travellers to be wary of travel refund and compensation scams.

Don’t be afraid to challenge calls or emails offering to rebook or refund your holiday.

Stop and think before parting with your money or personal information, and if you are contacted about changes to your holiday then hang up and speak to your travel operator directly.

Spike in PayPal scams

As a result of the rise in consumers shopping online throughout the pandemic, fraudsters have increasingly been using phishing emails purporting to be from online retail and payment platforms to steal information and money.

This week Action Fraud has received reports of a high number of scams relating to PayPal.

PayPal users have been receiving emails informing them that their account has been ‘limited’ as a result of a policy violation, and asking them to update their details by clicking on a link included in the email.

Cifas is reminding people to never click on links in emails and to always log onto their account directly through a secure app or website.

Anyone receiving a suspicious email can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service on [email protected]

Council tax phishing scam

Email users are being warned of a new phishing campaign promising a government funded tax cut.

The email appears to come from the ‘Government Digital Service Team’ and informs recipients that they are due a council tax reduction as a result of being on a low income or receiving benefits.

These emails contain a link where people can leave their personal details which are used by criminals for identity fraud.

Anyone who receives this or a similar email should never reply or click on links within it.

If you are concerned about your council tax then contact your local council using the contact details on their website.

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 www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Laura Collins