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Please see below an article uploaded by Cover Magazine last week and received on 24/07/2020, detailing scammers efforts to exploit people during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic:

Research by Aviva has shown that unscrupulous tactics and fraudulent communications related to financial services products have risen as a result of coronavirus.

According to the Aviva Fraud Report, suspicious emails, texts and phone calls related to health insurance have increased by 15% since the pandemic – up from 11% pre-Covid (1 January 2019 – 29 February 2020) to 27% during Covid (1 March – 15 June 2020).

For life insurance, the percentage of people who reported receiving suspicious communication were up 10% – from 14% to 24% – during this period.

This compares to a 7% rise in car insurance, 3% rise in pensions and 2% increase in annuities related scams.

According to the report, a typical health and life insurance scam involves a cold call telling consumers “It’s time to review your policy”. The fraudsters will claim they’re from a reputable insurance company or that they’ve been asked to do this by the regulators – all in a bid to gain trust. They may offer lower premiums but what they don’t mention is that the lower premium also means reduced cover – often leaving the consumer with a worthless policy.

The survey of 2009 Brits also found one in five (22%) reported having been targeted by suspicious communications which mentioned coronavirus – which equates to 11.7 million people in the UK.

Almost half (46%) said they didn’t report these suspicious communications, even though they suspected it was a financial scam. The most common (41%) reason given was because they didn’t know who to report the communication to.

Peter Hazlewood, group financial crime risk director at Aviva, said: “While the types of financial scams are generally the same as those before the pandemic, fraudsters are exploiting the pandemic to take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable. They are using coronavirus as a pretext to lure potential victims. The scams range from attempts to sell people unsuitable insurance to, at worst, stealing their entire retirement savings. The impact on victims is not just financial either, it has a detrimental effect on people’s mental wellbeing too.”

The research found that one in 12 (8%) of those surveyed have been the victim of a financial scam which related to coronavirus. Of those, 41% said being the victim of a scam negatively affected their mental health.

In June this year, Action Fraud reported £5million having been lost to fraud since February – a figure likely to be far higher due to a lack of reporting. Hazlewood added: “It’s clear from our research that fraudsters will use whatever tactics necessary to get hold of people’s hard-earned money. If you’re interested in getting a lower premium or taking out a new insurance policy, do a bit of research yourself – and don’t be forced into anything by unexpected phone calls from strangers. If you’re not sure whether a financial services company or a communication is legitimate, report it – to us, Action Fraud or the Police. And, while this may feel like an unsettling time for many, the advice we’d give to people is not to panic. When it comes to investments, decisions made in haste and under stress are rarely good ones.”

It is important to remain vigilant with your data and if you have received a communication that you are unsure of, please contact your provider or financial adviser for further details.

Please continue to check our Blog content for advice and planning issues and the latest investment, markets and economic updates from leading investment houses.

Please keep safe and healthy.

Carl Mitchell – Dip PFS

IFA and Paraplanner