Helping your business stay safe from scammers

Healthy LivingInform > Helping your business stay safe from scammers


Blog Article | By The Simplyhealth Team 9 April 2020

During the coronavirus outbreak, we have seen the best of human nature. Hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered to help the NHS by protecting vulnerable people isolated in their homes and people all over the country have joined in the national ‘Clap for our Carers’ to show support for NHS and other key workers.


Unfortunately, there are also a number of ruthless people out there who have set up a range of scams to target businesses and take advantage of the current situation. At a time when business owners are working flat out to protect themselves, their employees and their customers, they also need to be aware that scammers will take advantage of this stressful period and try to take control of their money. Here Simplyhealth’s Head of Information Security, Stacey Close, looks at how businesses can stay safe from scammers.

What should companies be aware of?


According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there has been a surge in coronavirus-related scams. Figures show there have been 105 reports to Action Fraud since 1 February 2020, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000.



These have included online shopping scams where people have sold protective face masks and hand sanitiser that the customer never receives, and phishing emails, which encourage recipients to provide their logins, passwords and bank details.


Around the country, there have been reports of fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC offering tax refunds and organisations offering investment schemes and trading advice. Fraudsters have even claimed to be the UK government, offering coronavirus related payments. This is a particular challenge at a time when the government is working with mobile phone providers to issue genuine safety messages and operating schemes to support businesses, employees and the self-employed.


Scams include:


  • Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimics the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.
  • Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.

Rise in scams directed at businesses


Many scams are directed at businesses, as well as individuals, and security experts say a spike in email scams linked to coronavirus is the worst they have seen in years. Cyber-criminals are targeting industries, including aerospace, transport, manufacturing, hospitality, healthcare and insurance.


The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) highlights that on top of this, organisations are getting to grips with remote working and employees working at home could be facing new cybersecurity challenges. Putting the right security measures in place is important as hackers and scammers could get hold of data and passwords.


While many organisations will have their home working arrangements in place, it’s important to look at the NCSC’s comprehensive guidance which also includes advice on spotting scam emails and what to do if you have already clicked into and engaged with a phishing email.

Staff might feel more exposed to cyber threats when working outside the office environment, so now is a great time for them to work through the NCSC's Top Tips for Staff e-learning package. The advice includes defending against phishing and using strong passwords.

What can you do to protect your business and your employees?


Government advice on how to protect yourself is:


  • Reject offers that come out of the blue
  • Get the company’s name and establish their credentials using the FCA’s Financial Services Register
  • Beware of adverts on social media channels and paid for/sponsored adverts online
  • Do not click links or open emails from senders you don’t already know
  • Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true
  • Take your time to make all the checks you need, even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’
  • Do not give out personal details (account credentials – username/password, bank details, address, existing insurance/pensions/investment details)


Seek financial guidance or advice before changing your pension arrangements or making investments. Staying safe and well and looking after the welfare of your patients, customers and staff is your top priority, but taking care of your finances and future should also be on your mind. Don’t forget to stay safe from the scammers too. 

To find out more information here are some useful links:


There is further advice on the FCA’s ScamSmart website about how to protect yourself and if you suspect you may have been contacted in what could be a scam, you can make a complaint to the Insolvency Service or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.


There is plenty of advice available for businesses and individuals:


  • The Metropolitan Police offer tips on how to prevent business fraud including identifying areas where your business is vulnerable and where to report fraud and get help.
  • Financial Fraud Action UK offers helpful tips and advice on the steps that you can take as part of your company’s strategies to help defend against the risk of fraud to your business. It includes information on protecting your identity, phone scams and data breaches.


The government has advice on how to protect your company from scams and fraud, how to report it and what we can do. It also has advice on phishing scams and how to tell if correspondence is genuine.

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