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We recently received the following advice from Santander and thought it would be worth sharing.

We know things are uncertain at the moment, so we want to reassure you that we are here to help you. Fraud is not going away, and criminals will always use current situations to try and trick people out of their money. We’re aware of some different scam tactics that are being used to target people so it’s important that you remain alert, keep up to date with the current trends and be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

Here are some hints and tips that could help you and your customers during this challenging time.

The scams

’Face mask for sale’ – criminals will post fake adverts online selling coronavirus-related protective equipment and health products, including face masks and hand sanitiser. They may even claim there’s a test kit you can purchase. Once you’ve paid, the goods never arrive.

An act of kindness? – offers of help and support with day-to-day activities, such as getting your shopping in. Many people are genuinely doing this for free, but criminals will ask for the money upfront or say you need to hand over your card and share your PIN.

Impersonation emails – criminals impersonate genuine organisations, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) or HMRC. They send emails asking you to click on a link to receive more information, to claim a refund or to donate money to help others. But these links go to fake sites where you’re asked to enter your details, or they’ll install malicious software on to your computer or device.

Helping someone in difficulty – requests from someone who claims to be stuck abroad or needing financial support because of the coronavirus outbreak. They’ll convince you to send them money, which ends up in the hands of the criminal.

‘We’ve got a vaccine’ – calls or emails offering to reserve a COVID-19 vaccine, or to secure other health products. They’ll claim to be from a legitimate organisation and ask for your personal and card details to secure the transaction. You pay the money, but the items never arrive.

’Your money’s at risk’ – criminals may call you pretending to be from Santander or another legitimate organisation. They tell you that your money’s at risk and it needs to be transferred immediately to a new account. The story is not real, and the money is actually transferred to the criminal’s account.

’Validating security details’ – texts and emails are being sent that appear to come from your bank. They’ll ask you to click a link to validate your security details, checking they’re working correctly so you can continue accessing your account. The link takes you to a fake site to steal your details.

Offers of financial support – callers offering to reduce interest payments or give payment holidays on your credit cards, loans and mortgages. They could also offer to apply for Government initiated financial support packages on your behalf. These calls won’t be genuine, but they’ll request your card or bank details to check your eligibility or to progress the application.

Protect yourself

Knowing our key fraud advice will help you protect yourself, your clients and those you care about.

  • Always Take Five and verify that any contact is genuine – use trusted sources and publicly available telephone numbers.
  • Never rely on a caller’s phone number to verify their identity. Fraudsters can ’spoof’ a phone number to make you believe it’s a genuine call.
  • Remember, a genuine organisation will never rush you in to taking action. If you’re ever unsure of what you’re being asked to do, take your time and don’t be rushed.
  • Avoid paying by money transfer when buying online. Pay with secure payment methods, such as PayPal or your credit/debit card.
  • Never transfer or withdraw money out of your account if you’re instructed to do so for security reasons. Santander or the police will never ask you to do this.
  • Never click on links or attachments in emails received out of the blue and never enter your online banking details after following an email link.
  • Always be honest with Santander regarding the reason for the payment and why you’re are making it. Read/listen to all fraud and scam warnings given to you.
  • Never send money to someone you’ve recently met, or someone who’s told you they urgently need you to send money, this could be a scam.

Take care and stay safe.