Scammers are continuing to take advantage of topical fears surrounding the pandemic by using the omicron COVID variant as a lure in recent phishing scams, according to reports.
The NHS has warned of a phishing campaign which leads people to fill in bank details for an “Omicron PCR test”, while consumer group Which? has reported rogue sites charging delivery fees for tests that can actually be obtained for free from the NHS.
They also flagged one scam website which asked users to set up a security question. Some scam websites ask for answers to common security questions, (e.g. mother's maiden name). This isn't required for a PCR test, but may be abused by scammers to attack other legitimate accounts.
Cyber criminals make use of current events to make their scams seem more convincing and they can be very difficult to spot. As the Prime Minister warned Brits of a “tidal wave” of Omicron infections, and urged everyone over the age of 18 to get a Covid-19 vaccine or booster in his latest address (December 12), criminals could use this urgency - and uncertainty in some areas - to prey on victims.
However, it is important to remember the NHS will never ask for bank account or card details and the NCSC has published guidance to help people recognise online scams and report any messages that seem suspicious.
If you receive a suspicious email, you should forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org, while suspect texts should be forwarded to ‘7726’. Scam websites can be reported directly to the NCSC via their online service.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).