A group of local leaders has joined forces to help protect Mid Wales communities from the evolving risk of fraud during the COVID-19 crisis.
A spotlight was put on the issue in a roundtable hosted by Fay Jones MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, alongside Lloyds Banking Group, Citizens Advice Powys, major charities and community leaders.
The panel reviewed the types of fraud faced by residents, with Carys Williams, Ambassador for Wales at Lloyds Banking Group, outlining the new tactics criminals are using to target the public. Attendees, who included representatives from Alzheimer’s Society, Age Cymru and PAVO, plan to work together to help raise awareness of these new threats and protect residents.
In July, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre revealed that more than £11 million had been lost to coronavirus-related scams in the UK alone. Cyber criminals have exploited the pandemic using tactics like scam emails to supposedly offer up to date guidance on the outbreak, but instead use computer viruses to unlock access to sensitive information.
A further £16 million has also been lost to online shopping fraud during the lockdown period, with scammers selling goods such as facemasks and hand sanitisers that never arrive. There has also been a growing trend of scammers selling fake staycation trips in the UK, as more people look to holiday at home post-lockdown.
Fay Jones MP said:
Anyone can be a victim of fraud, and we all face a heightened risk as scammers look to exploit how we’re communicating, banking and shopping online during COVID-19.
Some of my constituents will be using online tools for the first time due to social distancing measures or because they are shielding, meaning they’re less aware of the common red flags to look out for. That’s why it’s great to have the support of local charities and the expert advice from Lloyds Banking Group, so we can all better understand the threats we’re facing from cyber criminals and take action to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable.
Research from Lloyds Banking Group recently found that one in four (23%) adults in Wales are more worried about family members being scammed now than they were at the start of lockdown.
Carys Williams, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Wales, said:
Families are our first line of defence against fraudulent activity, and having an open conversation about scams can really help to plug gaps in our understanding about the tactics used.
There are always simple ways we can protect ourselves. When shopping online, paying by card is safer than a bank transfer. Thinking of your email account or telephone like your front door is helpful too – you wouldn’t let a stranger into your house, and in a similar way, we shouldn’t click on every link, open every attachment or trust that every call or email we receive is genuine.
With the help of local leaders and charities, we’re hopeful that mid-Wales communities will be more aware of the risks and therefore better able to protect themselves.
For more information on protecting yourself against fraud, visit: https://www.lloydsbank.com/help-guidance/protecting-yourself-from-fraud.html