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Coronavirus increases the risk of fraud and cybercrime

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The Charity Commission has today warned charities that fraudsters are exploiting the spread of coronavirus in order to carry out fraud and cybercrime, with Police reporting an increase in coronavirus related scams.  There are a number of ways in which charities can be defrauded; the below tips are to help charities and trustees minimise the risk of becoming a victim of such frauds and cyber-attacks.

Beware of procurement or mandate fraud

Some recent scams have involved the sale of vital personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks and gloves, online.  Some sellers have been fraudulent and once payment has been made, no products are delivered or the products do not meet required standards. 

Always:

  • Carry out due diligence.
  • Discuss with fellow trustees, colleagues or volunteers if you’re unsure.
  • Be cautious if you are asked to make changes to bank details or make payments to a new account.
  • Follow your charity’s validation procedures and check the authenticity of such messages.

Avoid acting on scam emails  (phishing)

Be vigilant to avoid scam emails.

Do not:

  • Click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious emails.
  • Respond to unsolicited messages or phone calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

Unsolicited offers of goods, services or financial support (advanced fee fraud)

Always:

  • Question unsolicited offers of goods or other financial support where an advanced fee payment is required. Just because someone knows your name and contact details, it does not mean they are genuine.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision that could harm your charity or your beneficiaries.

Protect your devices

Always:

  • Install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.
  • Consider if you need to take any extra steps if you have staff working at home.
  • Ensure that you keep people safe by protecting the personal data of staff and beneficiaries when using, or switching to, digital communications and delivery platforms.

If your charity is a victim of fraud or cybercrime, aim to report it promptly to both Action Fraud and the Charity Commission. 

For further information or advice, contact Julia Seary, Head of our Charities team. 

 

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