The consumer group Which? has launched a new scam alert service, aimed at preventing criminals cashing in on the coronavirus crisis.
Those signing up to the service will receive warning about the latest frauds as Which? uncovers them, along with information about how to protect themselves from various scams, including pension fraud.
Action Fraud says that around £2m has already been lost to coronavirus-related scams, with financial regulators warning savers not to make rash pension decisions during this time. There are fears that scammers are exploiting concerns about the impact of the outbreak on their finances.
Which? head of money Gareth Shaw says: “The coronavirus outbreak has created the perfect storm for scams, with fraudsters using callous tactics to exploit people’s fears and vulnerability for their own financial gain.”
The People’s Pension director of policy Gregg McClymont says: “Anything that helps protect already under pressure savers against merciless scammers is to be welcomed.
“Pensions fraud comes in many shapes and sizes and it is important that the public are alive to the very real risk that criminals will try anything to get their hands on their retirement pots.
“Savers should decline any unsolicited approach to access their pensions pots early and should seek professional advice before making any decisions about their pension savings.”
Other common scams identified by Which? include bogus phishing texts from HMRC, purporting to offer tax refunds due to the Covid crisis.
It has also seen evidence emails encouraging people to use their time during the lockdown to invest in cryptocurrencies, and unsolicited calls from fraudsters offering to enrol vulnerable people on to coronavirus vaccine trials for a fee.
Shaw adds: “Everyone should be extra cautious about clicking on links in any unsolicited emails and texts or answering calls. Make sure your computers, mobile phones and tablets are supported by the latest security updates, and consider installing antivirus software to minimise threats.”