National Cyber Security Centre message: Scams during the COVID-19 pandemic
Wed, 16 Sep 2020

As people are understandably concerned about the coronavirus, cyber-criminals have seen this as an opportunity.

In emails and on phones, they may claim to have a 'cure' for the virus, offer financial rewards, or encourage you to donate to worthy causes.

Like many scams, these criminals are preying on real-world concerns to try and trick people into interacting. They may also mimic real NHS messages.

These scam messages can be very hard to spot. They are designed to get people to react without thinking.

Spotting suspicious messages

Spotting scam messages and phone calls is becoming increasingly difficult. Many scams will even fool the experts. However, there are some tricks that criminals will use to try to get people to respond without thinking. Things to look out for are:

Authority - Is the message claiming to be from someone official? For example, your bank, doctor, a solicitor, or a government department. Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick others into doing what they want.

Urgency - Are you told you have a limited time to respond (such as 'within 24 hours' or 'immediately')? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.

Emotion - Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into wanting to find out more.

Scarcity - Is the message offering something in short supply, like concert tickets, money or a cure for medical conditions? Fear of missing a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.

Current events - Are you expecting to see a message like this? Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.

For further information, please visit the  ICT Security Intranet page.


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