People are being warned to watch out for scams, and fraudulent emails and websites which are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some examples of recent scams have been emails and text messages pretending to be from government departments, including links claiming to be government business support or universal credit, which encourage visitors to give over their card details.
You should beware of any unexpected emails and texts, especially those with bad grammar or spelling. The fraudsters will do their best to make sure that it looks like a government website, including having a realistic sounding domain name—you should be very wary of emails claiming to be from a government department which do not end in gov.uk, or have mis-spelled words. However, some text message scams have managed to ‘spoof’ numbers – so it appears like it is coming from a different number or location. Fraudulent messages and emails may also have a particularly urgent tone, and not address you by name.
The government will never ask you to give over your card details in an email or text. If you are unsure, you can always call the relevant government department yourself to check. The government warns that you should not give out private information (such as bank details or passwords), reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails if you’re not sure they’re genuine. You can report fraudulent websites to action fraud.
One example of a fraudulent website, which claimed to be for ‘Covid-19 relief’ had the word ‘relief’ mis-spelled, and it was not possible to click on the links elsewhere on the page. It asked visitors to the site to immediately enter their card details. The domain name ended started ‘uk-covid-relieve’ but ended in ‘.com’. You should expect government websites or emails to end in ‘.gov.uk’.
A recent text message showed up on recipient’s phones as from UKGOV. It claimed the recipient had been out of their house more than the legal limit, and therefore owed a fine – asking the recipient to enter their bank details at a link.
You can find the government websites and advice on business relief and universal credit here: