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Bizarre Scams of 2020

2020 saw the biggest rise in impersonation scams. Here are some of the most common (and bizarre) ones, and how we can stay safe

Covid-19 charity scams

Fake charities, or scammers pretending to be from a real charity, tried to con the public into donating money. Worse, they claimed it was to help beat the virus. Whether it was asking for cash to fund a Covid-19 vaccine, or urgent donations for PPE, links in emails or texts take people through to a fake website. Contact the charity to check it’s legit.

UK government Covid-19 scams

Scammers pretending to be from the government telling people they can claim a support grant or tax refund to protect themselves during the pandemic. These would often be sent as text messages, with a link to make an application. Another known scam tricks people into thinking they’ve broken lockdown rules and asks for a ‘goodwill payment’. Google the email address, or even the phone number if approached by text, often it will be listed as dodgy somewhere. If it looks suss, or too good to be true, check it out or ignore it altogether.

Wetherspoons ‘prize’ for beating coronavirus

Scammers pretending to be from the pub chain, sent emails suggesting that recipients could claim a prize for beating coronavirus. Clicking on the link either fills your computer with viruses or asks for personal financial information. This was one of the weirder ones!

Rogue gift cards

Members of the public reported websites claiming to offer e-gift cards for businesses including Ikea, Victoria’s Secret and Disney. Spelling mistakes on the website gave the game away, but do be careful when purchasing vouchers online. It’s safer to buy directly from the retailer’s own website.

Pension scams

This is when we get tricked into transferring our pension pot. We need to be alert if we receive a text or see an advert on social media asking whether our pension is safe or suggesting we move it elsewhere. Always find independent advice or a second opinion.

Click here for tips on how to spot a scammer. 

If someone tries to make us a victim of a scam, we should report it to the police and also contact Action Fraud.
Remember: If we think someone is trying to scam us online, we need to report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office online, or by calling 0303 123 1113.

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