Business and investment Consumer complaints and enquiries

COVID-19 related fraud

Even before lockdown began, scammers were getting busy - there was a 400% rise in fraud related to COVID-19 just in March 2020, according to Action Fraud. Most cases related to online shopping scams, where people ordered protective face masks, hand sanitisers, and other products that never arrived.

Phishing email scams

There have also been COVID-19 themed phishing emails, which aim to trick people into opening malicious attachments, or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

Some of the tactics commonly used in COVID-19 phishing emails include:

  • they pretend to be doing research for organisations such as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide you with a list of active infections in your area but tell victims to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.
  • they provide articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
  • they send investment scheme and trading advice, encouraging you to take advantage of the COVID-19 downturn.
  • they pretend to be from HMRC (often using the HMRC logo) offering a tax refund. They direct victims to a fake website to steal personal and financial details. 

Protect yourself

Watch out for scam messages: don’t click on links or open attachments in suspicious emails, and never reply to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal, or financial details.

Shopping online: if you’re buying from a company or person you don’t know and trust, do some research first and ask a friend, or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you can, use a credit card to pay, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases. See how to shop online safely on the Action Fraud website

Protect your devices from the latest threats

Always install the latest software and app updates to protect you from the latest threats. See how to secure your devices on the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Price Hikes

Since the start of the Covid 19 restrictions, Trading Standards have received complaints about shops charging excessive prices for some items. Although charging a high price isn't illegal, it is an offence to not display the price of the item either on the item itself, the shelf edge or on a price list. It is also an offence to charge a customer a higher price than the price displayed on the item.

If you want to report a shop for any of the above please contact Citizens Advice Bureau who will pass the details to us.

Small businesses and SMEs

The Cyber Resilience Centre for Greater Manchester is a not-for-profit that works in partnership with Greater Manchester Police to support small and medium enterprises to build their resilience to online crime. 

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