Criminals and fraudsters are sadly taking advantage of the current disruption. Here are some of the current scams we’re aware of, and ways you can protect yourself and your money,

One positive thing about the past few weeks has been people going out of their way to help one another. Right now, lots of us are supporting vulnerable family members and neighbours, volunteering, or are saving lives simply by following the government’s advice. London Mutual’s many members in the NHS and armed forces are doing amazing things to keep us safe.

But sadly, the current crisis also creates opportunities for criminals and fraudsters. In recent days we’ve seen a rise in coronavirus-related scams that put our members and your money at risk.

Facebook Community Groups, WhatsApp Groups and newer apps such as Nextdoor can be great ways of staying in touch with those around you. But it can be difficult to know who to trust. Please remember that not everyone out there is trustworthy and some people will take advantage of this unusual situation our society is facing.

Common scams to watch out for

Here are some examples of the kinds of scams that we and other financial providers are coming across. But remember—criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online.

Remember: neither London Mutual nor the police will ever ask for your bank details over the phone.

  • Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Current treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
  • Home cleaning services
  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
  • Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
  • There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
  • There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
  • People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
  • Take your time; don’t let anyone rush you.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID.
  • Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressure you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine.
  • Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.
  • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as GOV.uk or NHS.uk websites.
  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Know who you’re dealing with – if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know.
  • Never give your debit card, online banking details or PIN to anyone else.

Useful contacts

  • If your London Mutual debit card has been stolen, or you think someone may have your details, immediately call our Lost & Stolen Card Helpline on 0330 088 2747. Lines are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and contact help@creditunion.co.uk
  • For advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
  • To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk and complete the free online training.