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Campaign launched to tackle coronavirus fraudsters

People are being urged to report coronavirus scam emails to the government as part of a new campaign.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) says criminals are increasingly using the COVID-19 outbreak as a way to scam people.

It comes after a recent survey by TSB suggested that 42% of people believe they have been targeted by a scam email during the virus pandemic.

A Cyber Aware campaign has been launched offering advice and tips on how to protect passwords, accounts and devices.

A suspicious email reporting service will also allow people to forward possible scam emails to the centre for analysis.

The emails can be forwarded to report@phishing.gov.uk and the NCSC’s automated programme will test the validity of any links and further action could be taken against the fraudsters.

The centre’s existing service removed more than 2,000 scams related to coronavirus in the past month, including more than 450 fake online shops selling fraudulent items.

More from Covid-19

NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin said: “Technology is helping us cope with the coronavirus crisis and will play a role helping us out of it – but that means cyber security is more important than ever.

“With greater use of technology, there are different ways attackers can harm all of us. But everyone can help to stop them by following the guidance campaign we have launched today.

“But even with the best security in place, some attacks will still get through.

“That’s why we have created a new national reporting service for suspicious emails – and if they link to malicious content, it will be taken down or blocked. By forwarding messages to us, you will be protecting the UK from email scams and cyber crime.”

Tips on how to securely use video-calling apps such as Zoom are also included.

Zoom has been the subject of security concerns after reports that some video calls were being hijacked by strangers.

The platform’s managers have said they are trying to improve security settings.

The NCSC’s tips for using apps such as Zoom are:

  • Use a strong, unique password
  • Always track who is joining a call
  • Don’t make meetings public – never post a call link or password publicly
  • Only connect to people through your contacts or address book

Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “Criminals are seeking to exploit our greater use of emails, video conferencing and other technologies for their advantage.

“It’s despicable that they are using the coronavirus outbreak as cover to try to scam and steal from people in their homes. We all have a part to play in seeing they don’t succeed.”

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