ANOTHER Covid testing scam has come to my attention. If you receive a text message like the one below, report to 7726. Do not click on the link which is to a scam website for collecting your personal information, and also, BLOCK the sender number.
Now, as we approach Summer Holiday Booking Time, I feel we should have a look at anti-scamming advice, so that we can protect ourselves from the scammers.
Criminals can expertly design websites that seem professional and convincing, using images of luxury villas and apartments that don’t exist to convince you they’re trusted and genuine. Do your own research before making any purchase or hire deal. It’s best to use a company that is a member of a trade body.
Criminals are also setting up fake websites offering “cheap travel deals” to steal your money and personal information. Stop and Take 5 (minutes) to think before parting with your money. Is the offer too good to be true? Is the deal for travel covered by ABTA/ATOL? And finally, use secure payment options recommended by reputable travel providers.
Next, I have seen warnings from HMRC this month that scammers are seeking ways to obtain HMRC customers’ Government gateway logins and other personal details so that they can register for Income Tax self Assessment, and then submit bogus refund claims and then pocket the repayments.
HMRC is warning individuals not to share their personal information online to avoid their identities being used to claim these bogus Self Assessment tax refunds. Individuals who are duped will become liable to pay back the full value of the fraudulent claim..
Individuals, ranging from teenagers to pensioners, are being targeted on social media platforms by fraudsters seeking to ‘borrow’ their identities. In return, the individual is promised a cut of the tax refund ‘risk-free’.
Handing over sensitive personal information to criminals like this, even inadvertently, risks individuals involving themselves in tax fraud, and having to pay back the full value of the fraudulent claim.
Customers should therefore only deal with HMRC directly or through their tax advisor in relation to their Self Assessment tax refunds.
Simon Cubitt, head of cybercrime, HMRC said: “I urge anyone who may be aware of these dishonest attempts to recruit individuals into criminality, to report it us by searching ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and completing our online form.”
In addition to their Government Gateway credentials, customers may also be asked to provide details of their bank account, passport, driving licence, address, date of birth, and National Insurance number. So, please be vigilant. If you have teenage family members, show them this information and warn them that any involvement, for example by accidentally giving away personal information to people they do not know personally could involve them in criminal activities that HMRC will pursue.
Unfortunately, fraudsters may take advantage of our generosity when giving to charity. They may claim to be raising money for a fake charity or impersonate a well-known charity.
Some fraudsters are masquerading as victims of the war in Ukraine in an attempt to steal money from well-meaning UK residents. I hope to be able to give you more information on this next time.
If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice. 0808 278 7841 (freephone) Mon – Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm and text relay for people with hearing impairment: Text relay: 03444 111 445 for people with hearing impairment .The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line 0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk