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Be vigilant against Coronavirus scams

14 Apr 2020

laptop email scam warning

As we know, cyber security continues to be a hot topic, and unfortunately cyber criminals are now exploiting the current COVID-19 pandemic for their own objectives. It’s therefore important that you are aware of scams that are circulating and are extra cautious of emails and texts relating to coronavirus.

In the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre has detected more UK government branded scams relating to COVID-19 than any other subject. These scams often target people with phishing emails and texts, many of which will download ransomware, and in the worse cases can lock an entire organisation out of its own network until a ransom is paid.

These attacks all start with an email or text that aim to make you curious about an alert or offer, so you will click on a link or a file. This can then download a virus or allow the criminal to take control of your device.

These scams often look real and use the genuine logos and branding of the company they are pretending to be from, whether the Government, HMRC or the NHS. They are often timely too, for example, urging you to claim benefits or your tax back due to coronavirus, or share a link to confirmed coronavirus cases in your area.

We'd advise everyone to be extra cautious of emails or texts relating to coronavirus, only clicking on links that you know are genuine, and only following official sources of information.

Please also remind yourself of the signs of a scam email or text below:

Scam signs to look out for:

  • If an offer looks too good to be true, always stop and question it
  • Wording that doesn’t look right - poor grammar or spelling
  • Unusual tone – would the person generally be this formal or informal?
  • With emails you can click the reply button, and look carefully at the email address you are replying to - does it look right?
  • Web links may look OK, but do they look suspicious if you hover your mouse over them?
  • Does the email contain any zip attachments?
If you spot any of these signs, then proceed with caution.

What to do if you get a suspect email or text:

  • Never reply or click on any links
  • Confirm that the sender’s request is genuine by checking with them (on the phone or in person)
  • If the email is to your UCLan email address, forward it to liscustomersupport@uclan.ac.uk
  • If you receive a scam email or text, tell your friends and family and spread the word.
Thanks for your support and cooperation. Stay safe.