Advice to businesses during COVID - 19
With remote working and many businesses having to stop or diversify their trading practices, criminals are seizing the opportunity to target employees who are isolated from colleagues. Scams include criminals impersonating government officials or a senior member of the business in order to put pressure on employees to give out sensitive information or make payments.
Four common scams targeting businesses include:
Government grant/tax refund scams – A business is contacted by phone, email or post by government imposters suggesting the business might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant or a tax refund. Variations on the scheme involve contacts through text messages, social media posts and messages.
Businesses should be cautious about unexpected urgent communications offering financial assistance. Check that the information is genuine by using official government websites.
Invoice/mandate scams – A business may be contacted out of the blue by someone claiming to be from a regular supplier. They state that their bank account details have changed and will ask you to change the payment details.
Never rush a payment. Use contact details that you have used before to check that it is genuine.
CEO impersonation scams - A sophisticated scam that plays on the authority of company directors and senior managers. An employee receives a phone callor email from someone claiming to be a senior member of staff – they ask for an urgent payment to a new account and instil a sense of panic. Scammers may even hack a staff email account or use spoofing software to appear genuine.
Be cautious about unexpected urgent requests for payment and always check the request in person if possible.
Tech support scams – With more people working remotely and IT systems under pressure, criminals may impersonate well-known companies and offer to repair devices. Criminals are trying to gain computer access or get hold of passwords and login details. Once they have access, criminals can search the hard drive for valuable information.
Always be suspicious of cold callers. Genuine companies would never call out of the blue and ask for financial information.
If a business believes they have been the victim of a scam they must:
- Contact their bank immediately
- Report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
- Further advice is available from Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 08082231133 (English line), 08082231144 (welsh line)