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Protecting your business from scams during coronavirus


During Covid-19, criminals have been using every opportunity to target businesses with scams and malware. They will often impersonate people, other organisations and even the police, usually spending hours researching a business before contacting them, with the hope it will make it easier for them to be successful.

Contact can be made by phone, email, text, social media or even in person and the scammer will usually try to trick the business into downloading malware, parting with money or confidential information, or purchasing goods that do not exist.

Who will scammers commonly claim to be from?

Scammers will often claim to be from the following organisations, or send communications with links claiming to be for the following websites:

  • Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
  • Global Health Centre
  • Organizzazione Mondiale della Sanità (OMS)
  • Shipping company customer service teams
  • HMRC
  • Updates from CEOs of corporations
  • World Health Organisation (WHO)

What to look out for in communications?

Scammers will often reference the following in their communications:

  • Tax refunds from gov.uk/HMRC
  • Failed card transactions/overdue invoices or payments
  • Refunds for goods or services
  • Parcel shipping cancellations
  • Campaigns raising money for research or funds for victims
  • NHS charity donations
  • Services offering support on insurance refunds or pay-outs

The following tips can help to protect your business:

  • Reject unsolicited offers, particularly those that offer ‘quick fixes’
  • Ensure any employees are educated on staying safe and dealing with potential scams
  • Be wary of social media adverts or sponsored adverts online
  • Always verify the sender of communications and do not click on links from senders that you don’t know
  • Avoid clicking on links and opening or downloading attachments from unknown senders
  • Never give out personal details or confidential business information
  • Ensure you have the latest security software
  • Carry out your research on any companies you are planning on dealing with
  • Carry out thorough checks of your bank statements so any suspicious activity can be flagged

With many staff now working from home it’s important to make them aware of the increased susceptibility to scams. In particular, home workers should ensure that their home internet is secure by enabling network encryption and setting up a secure password for their internet router.

What to do if you think your business has been scammed?

Law enforcement, the government and industry bodies are working together to help tackle coronavirus-related scams and prevent businesses falling victim to them.

If you or an employee suspects that your business has been scammed or fallen victim to cyber-crime, you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. The National Cyber Security Centre also has a wealth of further advice on how to keep your business safe.

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551