Feargal Brennan

By Feargal Brennan

TSB Bank has revealed the most-used scams aimed at is customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fraudsters have utilised the uncertainty of the ongoing UK lockdown to target people and attempt to illegally extract money and financial data from them.

Impersonation scams formed the bulk of the incidents, based on TSB customer data from February 2020 to March 2021, making up 43% of losses, alongside ‘safe account’ scams (30%) and purchase fraud (11%).

TSB have reiterated their policy of refunding all customers who become the innocent victims of scams, with 99% of claims settled in the last 12 months, at a rate of £2,360 per case.

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The bank also indicated the scammers have widened their net in recent months to target younger customers and those working from home.

These newer instances can include falsely impersonating customer service agents from energy suppliers or online streaming services, with an average loss of £4,084, according to reports from Hull Live.

Other popular schemes during the last year have included ‘romance frauds’, with criminals fabricating stories via fake online dating profiles to obtain cash.

‘Safe Account’ scams have also increased, as customers have been contacted with urgent warnings of their account being ‘under attack’ by cyber criminals and requesting them to transfer money into a fake account.

Fraudsters have even used the Covid-19 vaccine roll out to target customers, offering fake testing kits, PPE and home delivery vaccines, with one person scammed out of £279 for a test and another losing £100 on hand sanitiser.

Ashley Hart, head of fraud at TSB, said: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in sophisticated attacks on the public.

“Banks and other businesses need to step up their efforts to protect their customers and help catch criminals.”

Mike Haley, chief executive of crime prevention body Cifas, echoed these comments, by adding: “Lockdown meant fraudsters were quick to adapt their attacks and target online platforms.

“The scale of the attacks is enormous – more than five million suspicious emails were flagged to the National Cyber Security Service in the past year.

“Fraudsters gain your trust by impersonating well-known brands via email, social media and phone calls.

“As well as using a brand’s logo to trick you, some criminals spoof their emails, so it appears contact is being made by a legitimate email address.

“Take your time before engaging in requests to share personal or banking details, no matter how legitimate it appears. If you do hand over details, and think it may not be genuine, get in touch with your bank immediately.”