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Warning to public over coronavirus related financial scams

PUBLISHED: 15:24 26 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 26 March 2020

Financial scammers have been exploiting the coronavirus pandemic  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Financial scammers have been exploiting the coronavirus pandemic Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Nicolas Herrbach

Members of the public are being warned to be extra vigilant and wary of financial scams connected to coronavirus.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned that the scams can take many forms, including pensions transfers, high-return investment opportunities or health insurance supplements.

It follows a recent series of coronavirus scam warnings from Suffolk Trading Standards – most recently alerting taxpayers to emails claiming to be from HMRC offering rebates as a result of the pandemic.

Suffolk Trading Standards warned that any communication claiming to be from HMRC and asking the recipient to click on a link or give personal information was a scam.

Earlier this week, the Department for Education warned that parents and carers were being targeted by scammers sending messages about free meal entitlement for children while schools are closed.

Meanwhile, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has received reports of individuals and businesses exploiting the current COVID-19 situation by selling products at very high prices.

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Retailers have been urged to behave responsibly throughout the outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices.

Members of the public have also been reminded that similar obligations should apply if reselling goods online.

To report a retailer or individual, email here with your contact details and any supporting evidence for your concerns.

Listen: Our daily podcast gives you all the latest on the coronavirus situation in Suffolk

The FCA advised people to stay vigilant to financial scams by rejecting offers that come out of the blue; getting the company’s name and establishing their credentials using the Financial Services Register; being wary of adverts on social media channels and sponsored adverts online; not clicking links or open emails from unknown senders; being wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true; taking your time to make all the checks you need; not giving out personal details, and seeking financial guidance or advice before changing pension arrangements or making investments.

There is further advice on the FCA’s ScamSmart website.

If you suspect you may have been contacted by scammers, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

For more on the coronavirus crisis in Suffolk, see here

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