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Coronavirus is bringing out the best and worst in people. There have been wonderful acts of kindness and generosity. However, the pandemic has also provided cyber criminals with the opportunity to take advantage. In fact, just 24 hours into the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), there were already coronavirus scam emails circulating.

If employees have been furloughed by coronavirus, the CJRS allows you to potentially claim for 80% of their wages, plus employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

What are the fraudsters doing?

In a scam email, titled HM Revenue & Customs, recipients are asked for their bank details so that CJRS funds can be paid. In fact, the email is not from HMRC and is simply a way for the scammers to get access to your account.

A London Accountancy firm reported that 50 of its clients were sent the coronavirus scam email on the first day of the scheme. With cyber-crime a growing problem, it’s predicted that more emails, like this, will be sent.

What should I look out for?

The email appeared as though it was from HMRC, but it was sent via the address no-reply@ncryptedprojects.com. There are lots of ways the scammers will try to trick you, but there are some tell-tale signs to look for:

  • Authority – Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you.
  • Urgency – Do you have a limited time to respond to avoid consequences.
  • Emotion – Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious?
  • Scarcity – Is the message offering something in short supply (like PPE for protection against coronavirus)?
  • Current events – Criminals often exploit current news stories (like coronavirus) or big events.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has further advice on the above, plus guidance on what to do if you’ve already clicked on a link in a phishing email (or entered your details into a website).

What do I do if I’m the victim of a coronavirus scam email?

You can find information as mentioned on the NCSC website. You should also forward any questionable emails to the NCSC via report@phishing.gov.uk. The NCSC’s automated scanning system will then check them, and immediately shut down and remove offending criminal sites.

Legitimate support with the CJRS

To make sure you can claim for the CJRS, it’s a good idea to speak to your accountant. We’ve been working with our clients to help them understand how much they can claim, what information they need to provide and how the process will work.

If you do receive an email claiming to be on behalf of HMRC, it’s worth checking with your accountant before disclosing information, such as; bank details, employee details etc. If it is one of the many coronavirus scam emails, report is, don’t click on any links and do not disclose information.

For more practical advice and business insights, you can follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Avatar for Liz Cordell
About Liz Cordell

I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.

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