Published on: 27 July 2020

What the criminals are doing

We've seen an increase in fraudsters sending messages relating to coronavirus. For example, they might be offering additional financial support to help you during the crisis. Pretending to be from a reputable organisation, they make unexpected contact and try to get personal and financial information such as:

  • online banking login details
  • your date of birth
  • card numbers
  • card reader codes.

They use this information to do things like:

  • open bank accounts
  • get credit cards, loans and state benefits
  • order goods in your name
  • take over your existing accounts
  • take out mobile phone contracts
  • get genuine documents like passports and driving licences in your name.

What they do to appear genuine

They will often pretend they're from:

  • banks and building societies
  • HMRC
  • TV Licensing
  • DVLA
  • telephone or broadband providers.

Fraudsters can use logos and make small changes to email addresses and website addresses or URLs. They can even make a text appear in your genuine conversation chain.

Examples of fraudulent texts

Fraudsters can easily set up a fake contact number, pretending to be from a real company. The use of language, punctuation and grammar can often be poor. Fraudsters will try to encourage you to respond or act by giving you a deadline. Company details can appear to be correct, but this doesn't mean the message is legitimate.

In 2 recent examples, fraudsters have posed as Nationwide to trick the recipient into following a link. The link takes you to fake Nationwide web pages where they ask for personal and financial information.

We'll next show you 2 more fake messages, posing as well-known organisations. They ask the recipients to visit fake web pages to disclose personal information.

The first text tells the recipient that their phone bill payment could not be processed. It includes a link to update their details.

The second text is a scam saying that the government are making payments to residents. The link takes you to a web page designed to look like the GOV.UK website.

Protecting yourself

Be wary of cold calls, emails and texts asking you to provide personal and financial information.

We will never ask you to:

  • Update your details directly from a link in an email or text

  • Log directly into the Internet Bank via a link in an email, text or social media message.


  • Assume an email request, text or phone call is genuine.

  • Click on a link from a communication you weren't expecting.

You should:

  • Listen to your instincts – you know if something doesn't feel right.

  • Stay in control – don't panic and make a decision you'll regret.

  • Look out for spelling mistakes and unusual web addresses or URLs.