As Covid lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the UK Brits should still be wary of opportunistic fraudsters taking advantage of the current situation to exploit people.

Lockdown restrictions and a rise in online shopping or banking throughout the pandemic has seen a rise in scams.

It is important you are aware of the scams doing the rounds to give you the best chance of keeping your personal details safe.

Scammers will often make contact via email, phone calls and texts using sophisticated methods to exploit people while there are so many concerns from the vaccine rollout to the economy.

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Here are the scams you need to be aware of.

HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Halifax bank customers

Banking customers at Barclays, Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds are being warned of new scams targeting their details.

Fraudsters have been hard at work throughout the pandemic trying to trick unsuspecting victims to hand out their details.

The latest round of scams see customers receive texts claiming to be from UK banks trying to dupe customers out of their cash.

Potential victims will receive fraudulent text messages from scammers.

The text message reads: “A payment was attempted from a NEW device and needs approval. If this was NOT you, please visit ______ to secure your account."

Another message will tell customers that they have "successfully added a new payee" prompting customers to share their details saying: "If this was not you, please visit ____ to secure your account."

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The warning comes from Katherine Hart, a Lead Officer at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).

She said: “I am witnessing so many reports of this scam; indeed, I have received multiple versions of it on my phone.

“The public is very vulnerable to this type of fraud, especially when more people rely on online payments.

“Fraudsters change the form and methods of their scams to match shifting consumer behaviour.

“The surge in online shopping and payments means that the public must be more vigilant when making online payments and receiving messages claiming to be from their bank.”

She added: “If you receive a suspicious text like this, please contact your bank directly and verify with them. Also, forward any scam texts to 7726, which is a free reporting service ran by Ofcom. We must protect ourselves and others from these scams but also provide vital intelligence to authorities.”

Royal Borough Observer: Banking customers are being warned of new scams targeting their details. (PA/Canva))Banking customers are being warned of new scams targeting their details. (PA/Canva))

HMRC

Reports claim people around the UK have been targeted by fraudsters claiming to be HM Revenue and Customs.

The scam comes in the form of a text message, asking for personal details claiming that the recipient can claim money from a fictional government grant.

The text message reportedly reads: “From HMRC: The third lockdown has been announced, we have been issued a grant off £240 to help during this period, visit to claim.”

The message is followed by a link.

Despite the fact that the message claims to be from the HMRC, the message contains a number of grammatical errors, such as the use of the word “off” instead of the word “of” - a tell-tale sign that this is not a legitimate message.

The website that the text links to has been created to look similar to the government website, with the same branding, layout and font choices. However, it is not hosted on the official gov.uk domain, which should be another red flag for those targeted by the scam, as it indicates that the website is fake.

The fake website also informs users that they will need to provide their card details in order to claim the grant.

Both Chrome and Safari web browsers automatically flag the website as deceptive and inform users that it may be tricking them into disclosing their card details.

Royal Borough Observer:

Royal Mail

Royal Mail is warning the public over a worrying parcel scam doing the rounds across the UK.

The scam comes in the form of text messages and emails asking customers to make extra payments to ensure their package is delivered.

The message reads: “Your package has a £2.99 shipping fee, to pay this now visit…Actions will be taken if you do not pay this fee.”

The link will then take you to a replica of the Royal Mail website where scammers try to convince customers to hand over their details.

Royal Mail has now issued guidance to customers warning them not to be fooled by such tricks and urged caution when it comes to such contact from the delivery firm.

The said: "Royal Mail will only send email and SMS notifications to customers where the sender has requested this when using our trackable products that offer this service.

"The only time we would ask customers to make a payment in an email or SMS is if a customs fee is due.

"In this case, we will also leave a grey card telling them there's a fee to pay, either for the international customs fee or a surcharge for an underpaid item, before we can release the item.

"This may arrive later than the email or SMS."

Royal Borough Observer:

Natwest

Natwest issued an urgent scam warning to customers after fraudsters attempted to steal personal and financial information from customers.

The bank has said that criminal fraudsters have been using the latest lockdown restrictions and vaccine rollout to exploit people for personal gain.

Criminals have been making scam phone calls to customers, as well as sending fake emails and text messages, pretending to be from official sources, including the NHS, in an attempt to steal information.

Jason Costain, head of fraud at NatWest said: “You are now more likely to be a victim of fraud in the UK than any other crime.

“During last year’s lockdown criminals took advantage of more people working remotely and online.

“It therefore makes sense to take some simple steps to make yourself and your family more fraud proof.”

Royal Borough Observer:

NHS vaccine scam

According to Trading Standards, people are reporting to have received a text message claiming to be from the NHS.

It reads: “We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine. For mor information and to apply, follow here.”

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said that text messages had been sent out including links to fake NHS websites that asked recipients for bank details, supposedly for verification purposes.

Such messages were first reported at the end of December on the Western Isles of Scotland, but the CTSI says they are “by no means limited to the region”.

Katherine Hart, lead officer at CTSI, said: “The vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others.

“The NHS will never ask you for banking details, passwords, or pin numbers and these should serve as instant red flags.”

Royal Borough Observer: People are reporting text message claiming to be from the NHS. (PA)People are reporting text message claiming to be from the NHS. (PA)

How to spot scams and what to do if you see one

Trading Standards South West the warning signs to look out for.

  • A cold call – someone contacts you about something that you didn’t request or expect.
  • Fantastic offer – the offer sounds very attractive yet too good to be true.
  • A sense of urgency – you’re told that the offer is only available for a limited time or that you must act quickly.
  • Odd language – the wording in the email or letter doesn’t sound right, or it has bad spelling and grammar.
  • Secrecy – you’re told not to tell anyone.
  • Upfront payment request – you’re asked to pay money upfront or send a fee without an agreed contract.
  • Information request – you’re asked to give personal information or banking details.