NatWest issues urgent warning over fake Covid and delivery scams - what to look out for

NatWest has issued an urgent scam warning after fraudsters have attempted to steal customers’ personal and financial information.

The bank has said that criminals have been using the latest lockdown restrictions and vaccine rollout to exploit people for personal gain.

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Fake calls, emails and texts

Criminals have been making scam phone calls to customers, as well as sending fake emails and text messages, pretending to be from official sources, including the NHS, in an attempt to steal information.

Messages have been reported to contain links for fake NHS websites with an application form to register for the Covid-19 vaccine, with customers asked to provide their personal information and bank details.

NatWest customers have also reported fraudulent adverts on reputable websites, including Google, Facebook, eBay and Instagram.

Similar messages were reported during the first lockdown back in March 2020, which saw scams increase by 400 per cent according to Action Fraud. Vaccination scams are now emerging as one of the most common scams circulating at the moment.

Jason Costain, head of fraud at NatWest said: “You are now more likely to be a victim of fraud in the UK than any other crime.

“During last year’s lockdown criminals took advantage of more people working remotely and online.

“It therefore makes sense to take some simple steps to make yourself and your family more fraud proof.”

Circulating scams

NatWest has compiled a list of scams that are currently being circulated in an effort to protect more customers from falling victim.

The following five are the most common at the moment:

Postal delivery scams

With more shopping taking place online, criminals have been using fake DPD and Royal Mail emails to collect personal and financial information.

Purchase scams

Criminals follow the trend and will offer goods for sale that are in high demand.

NatWest customers have reported scams involving pets that don’t exist, games consoles, mobile phones, hot tubs and camper vans.

If you see a good deal advertised via auction sites or on social media be careful. Follow the payment advice on the website, ideally pay by MasterCard or VISA and definitely do not pay direct into someone’s bank account until you have taken delivery of the goods.

Coronavirus vaccination scams

A phone call, email or text message is sent in an attempt to steal personal and financial details, with the message containing a link to a fake NHS website.

The site contains an application form to register for the vaccine and asks for various personal and bank details to ‘confirm your address’. This information is then used by criminals to target your bank account.

Coronavirus tax refund

Criminals are sending fake emails, texts and calls which claim you are entitled to a support grant or tax-rebate due to coronavirus, with the aim of obtaining your name, date of birth, address, and card payment details.

The aim is to get you to give them your personal details like your name, date of birth, address and sometimes even your payment card details, which they then use to steal your money.

Once they have your details, they will often call and pretend to be from your bank’s fraud team, trying to persuade you to move your money to a ‘safe account’ or give away your card reader codes.

Offers to make quick money

There has been an increase in criminals trying to lure people into becoming money mules through ‘get rich quick’ job offers.

If someone offers you money to use your bank account, you should ignore it and alert the police. The personal consequences of allowing criminals to pay money through your account can be life-changing and you may not be able to open a bank account again.

If you receive a call or message you believe to be fraudulent, you can report it by emailing [email protected]

How to stay safe

NatWest has issued the following advice to help boost security and protect customers from fraud:

  • Try to shop online with websites that you know and trust using MasterCard or VISA to pay. If you see a deal online that looks too good to be true from a website you’ve never heard of, do your homework; check what the merchants refund policy is, do they have a landline to call if there is a problem, are there any negative reviews about them? If you have doubts, don’t make the purchase.
  • If an online seller asks you to send money direct from your bank account to theirs, this is probably a scam. If they fail to deliver the goods you will lose your money.
  • Don’t give away your personal and bank details too easily. Criminals use online competitions or offers of free shopping vouchers as a way of harvesting information from their next victims.
  • Be sceptical of unsolicited phone calls, texts or emails asking for personal or bank details. The bank or the police will never ask for a full PIN or password, card reader codes, or ask you to move money from your account.
  • Do not recycle passwords and definitely use a unique password for your bank accounts and your email account.
  • Pass this information on to your family and friends, especially anyone you think might be vulnerable.