Scammers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable with our spending habits and are coming up with even more ingenious way to get their hands on your hard-earned cash.
With the ease of lockdown restrictions from the 17th May 2021, fraudsters are now taking advantage of the British public with a variety of scams including; festival tickets, holidays, and travel insurance.
Here at Hitachi Personal Finance, we've put together some of the most common and up to date scams so you can help keep yourself safe.
“Your national insurance number has been compromised”
If you receive an official sounding phone call claiming that your “National Insurance number has been compromised”, hang up immediately – it’s a scam.
Fraudsters have setup an automated message informing you that your National Insurance number has been compromised and to get this resolved, you must press 1 immediately.
Once transferred, the person on the other end of the phone will try pressure and manipulate tactics in an attempt get hold of your personal information under the pretence of setting up a new NI number.
Once they have your details, they will be used to commit fraud in your name.
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:
“We are asking the public to remain vigilant and be cautious of any automated calls they receive mentioning their National Insurance number becoming compromised.
“It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone asking for your personal or financial details, this could be a scam.
“Even confirming personal details, such as your email address, date of birth or mother’s maiden name, can be used by criminals to commit fraud. If you have any doubts about what is being asked of you, hang up the phone. No legitimate organisation will rush or pressure you.”
Travel deal scams
Have you ever looked at a holiday deal online and thought the price is too good to be true?
Criminals are setting up fake websites offering amazing ‘travel deals’ in a bid to get hold of your money and personal information.
These cloned websites may look identical to genuine companies’ one, but with subtle differences in the URL such as an extra letter or symbol. Always double check the address especially if you’ve clicked on a referral link.
Fraudsters will also make these websites appear professional and convincing, even going as far as using stolen images of luxury villas and apartments that don’t exist, to convince you that they’re trustworthy and genuine.
The purpose of the scam is to get you to part with your cash via a deposit for the fake accommodation and it will be nearly impossible to get it back.
Vaccine certificate scams
With travel restrictions beginning to ease, the UK Government is keen to provide the British public with vaccine passports which will show whether you have been vaccinated, recently tested negative or have any natural immunity after recovering from COVID-19.
Criminals have jumped on this opportunity to target people with fake COVID-19 vaccination passports by sending out phishing emails, making fake calls, publishing social media posts, creating fake apps or even paying for adverts in a bid to lure you in.
Often these social media posts and emails include a link to a fraudulent website which they use to harvest personal and financial information for the purposes of committing fraud in your name.
Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) scams
If you’re on holiday in the EU, you’ll need to have a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) so that you access medical care in case of an accident or emergency while travelling. This card replaced the old European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and criminals are now attempting to capitalising on this.
These cards are being advertised on fake NHS websites claiming to either fast-track or manage your application process before charging you an up-front fee.
This card is in fact completely free and has no additional charges attached to it so if you’re being asked to pay – it’s a scam.
Now that events and festivals have reopened, criminals are taking advantage of people booking tickets for long-awaited events.
Fraudsters are setting up fake websites and social media profiles to sell tickets that are either fake or don’t exist.
Websites are also being cloned to look like the genuine organisation’s one but with slight differences in their URL.
Always try to book tickets directly through official sellers and who are members of the self-regulatory body STAR. Also, don’t click on links you see for cheap tickets and go directly to the website yourself.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, commented:
“Criminals have been capitalising on the pandemic to commit fraud, and the easing of lockdown restrictions provides another opportunity for them to target victims.
“As you start booking holidays and planning social activities, don’t let criminals take you for a ride.”
Tips for keeping your personal information safe
- Don't give out sensitive information – don’t feel obliged to provide or confirm your personal information
- Be wary of requests to move money – banks will not ask you do this.
- Don't click unfamiliar links or open emails – these are usually linked to phising scams
- Don't bow to pressure – no legitimate organisation will pressure or threaten you to hand over your personal or financial information.