Protect yourself against COVID-19 scams

The East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) would like to make all East Midlands residents aware of a sharp rise in phishing Scams being sent by SMS text messages relating to COVID-19.

Published: Thursday, 7th January 2021

As it stands, there are five key trends:

  • Fake URL links claiming to redirect you to GOV.UK website to claim relief payments
  • Lockdown fines suggesting you have breached government regulations
  • Offers of health supplements that will prevent you from being infected
  • Financial support that appears to be from your bank
  • Fake text messages claiming to be from the NHS advising individuals that they are eligible to apply for vaccine, but requiring sensitive data such as financial information to make a payment

To protect yourself and those close to you:

  • Keep abreast of the news: As awful as it may seem, knowledge of attack methods and techniques will hone the ability to separate fact from fiction
  • Never click links within emails or text messages: Links take you to fake websites
  • Never call back using an unrecognised SMS phone number: This could lead you to speaking directly with a criminal or criminal organisation
  • Use official channels: For example, use GOV.UK to find relevant information about COVID support and support services. Once the official communication channels are known you can verify information and find out what the next steps are
  • Guard your data: A legitimate organisation won’t make unsolicited requests for sensitive information or payments. For example, the vaccine is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups. Use the official NHS app only available from Google Play or Apple Store
  • Don’t give into pressure: If someone tries to coerce you into giving them sensitive information, end the conversation
  • Watch your digital footprint. Cyber criminals will use social media accounts and relevant websites to research you and make their scams more effective. Request the removal of unnecessary information and check your privacy settings for every account.