Coronavirus and identity fraud

The UK’s fraud prevention service, Cifas is warning the public and organisations against falling victim to new scams arising because of coronavirus.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said: ‘Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to prey on people’s fear and anxieties, and so it's very likely that these scams will only increase as Coronavirus spreads.”

Already in the UK fraudsters are targeting the public with emails, texts and WhatsApp messages offering advice and treatment for the coronavirus, as well as setting up fake websites selling products and offering ‘cures’. Scammers have also been setting up bogus websites asking for donations for victims, or promoting awareness and prevention tips. They are not only using these tactics to scam money out of their victims but gather personal information which can be used to commit identity fraud. As a result Cifas is recommending that people should never provide personal data such as full name, address and date of birth to people or organisations that they do not know.

In China, where at the time of writing over 3,000 people have tragically lost their lives to the virus, there is also the growing risk of deceased identity theft, where criminals steal the personal details of the deceased in order to use their identity to procure products and services fraudulently.

This combined with the news that over one fifth of the UK workforce could potentially be absent from work at the same time, means that organisations will be more vulnerable to opportunistic fraudsters.

Consequently, in this the first phases of the UK’s battle plan against coronavirus ‘containment and delay’ it is important that businesses review their processes and procedures to protect themselves for when they are at their most vulnerable, if the worst is to happen. This includes security testing to defend against the increased risk of data breaches and putting fraud protection solutions in place. Our deceased identity fraud prevention product, Halo, for example, identifies any orders or applications being made by people that are proven to have passed away.  Compiled from fully verified sources including funeral directors, financial institution, registrars and probate Halo contains the details of over 10 million deceased individuals spanning over two decades and includes full name, residential address, date of death and date of birth. What’s more 10,000 new notifications are added to the file each week, with most of these deaths occurring within the two previous weeks meaning that deceased fraud can be identified very quickly.

If you are worried about the impact of deceased identify fraud on your business then please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively if you think you’ve been the victim of a coronavirus scam, then speak to your bank immediately and report any fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.