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Cifas warns home workers of scams during coronavirus outbreak

Wednesday 22nd April, 2020

Cifas the UK’s leading fraud prevention service is warning people working from home to be extra vigilant of fraud following a huge surge in coronavirus scams.

The warning comes as Cifas sees a huge spike in online activity around coronavirus. On March 1st 2020 there were just 3,000 internet domains containing the phrase ‘coronavirus’, and this shot up to more than 57,000 by March 22nd.

Cifas has seen an increase in emails from fraudsters impersonating CEOs or IT departments asking employees for access to their device and to share their screen information. Once they gain access, criminals are stealing banking and personal information which can be used to steal the victim’s funds and identity.

Keith Rosser, Director of REED Group Risk & Reed Screening, said: “Phishing and mandate fraud are two ways fraudsters could take advantage of this situation and pretend to be IT Departments to get information out of employees. Employees will need to be hyper vigilant and companies should be communicating during this time more than ever with their workforce to make them aware of the dangers.”

Emails and texts purporting to be from government departments including HMRC offering grants and advice for workers and business owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic are also currently in circulation. These usually ask for personal information or contain a link that once downloaded, infiltrates a person’s device with malicious malware.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said: “Employees working from home need to take a moment to stop and think before responding to any request for personal or financial information, even if they believe it is coming from their employer. Don’t be afraid to challenge a request if you cannot confirm it is legitimate, and remember that only criminals will try to rush or panic you into a decision.”