News from Cumberland Building Society on scams

Date Posted: 14th May 2020

Be wary of scams related to coronavirus (Covid-19)

Criminals use exceptional circumstances such as the current COVID-19 situation as an opportunity to target people for fraud scams.

They often pose as employees of genuine organisations, such as building societies, banks or the government, claiming they are dealing with coronavirus-related issues. They may ask you to pay them money upfront or provide personal information which enables them to commit fraud.

Scammers often use pressure tactics to stop you thinking about what they’re asking you to do, so please take extra care at this time.

Scams to watch out for

Criminals are using a variety of tactics including fake emails, phone calls, texts and social posts, using coronavirus as their cover story.


‘Phishing’ is when criminals send a message to as many people as possible claiming to come from a genuine organisation such as a bank, building society or similar. They may offer services such as insurance, investments or refunds of some kind. If you think you’ve received a scam message then don’t reply to it or click any of the links inside.

SMS/text scams

We are aware of various coronavirus SMS scams offering people ‘goodwill payments’ or claiming that the recipient is being fined for leaving their home. If you receive an SMS that claims something like this, don’t reply to it or open any links in the message.

Impersonation scams

We’ve heard reports of criminals pretending to be from various organisations including HMRC, offering goodwill payments or tax rebates via text and automated calls. Most genuine organisations won’t text or call about rebates or penalties, so these communications are often fake. Keep a look out for generic greetings, odd email addresses or badly written messages, even if the initial message seems very convincing.

Phone calls and WhatsApp

Criminals have been using WhatsApp messages or automated phone messages to try and trick people into revealing their personal or financial details. It’s worth noting that financial organisations will never contact you via WhatsApp for any important reasons.

Social media scams

Some people have received direct messages on Twitter and other social sites from criminals attempting to gather personal data. Most genuine organisations would never use social media in this way, so if you receive a suspicious message then don’t reply or click any of the links in it.

These are just a few examples of how criminals have been trying to trick people in the current climate, but please be aware that scammers are taking advantage in other ways too. HMRC have a list of current scams on their website including what to do if you think you’ve been targeted.

Here are some things which we'll never do

  1. Ask for your PIN or any other of your passwords and codes over the phone or via email or text message
  2. Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else
  3. Ask you to email or text any personal or banking information such as your passwords and codes or account details
  4. Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash
  5. Call to advise you to buy diamonds, land or any other commodities
  6. Ask you to carry out a test transaction online or anywhere else