A number of recent news articles have reported that fraudsters are exploiting the coronavirus situation in order to carry out increased fraud and cybercrime.
We've put together some information which can help you stay vigilant to fraud and scams, as well as wider information on online shopping, which more and more of us are relying on for essentials.
If you think you have been scammed or defrauded, the Government's advice is to contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, on 0300 123 2040 or via Action Fraud's website.
See the full Government advice on how to protect yourself from cybercrime, and how to stay safe online during coronavirus.
RNIB Connect Radio: Anti-fraud special
RNIB Connect Radio has run a week-long series of interviews with leading anti-fraud experts.
On Monday 18 May, Basil Oxtoby spoke to detective superintendent Alex Rothwell, Deputy National Coordinator for fraud and economic crime at City of London Police, where he shared advice on tips to avoid scams. We also heard from RNIB's Head of Fundraising Alex McDowell about RNIB’s fundraising and how to check if a funding request is genuine.
On Tuesday 19 May, RNIB Connect Radio broadcast an interview with Police Scotland superintendent Ann Bell, who is the lead on harm prevention within their Safer Communities National Division. She talked about fraud prevention and what to look out for, tips to avoid scams and what to do if you think you have been victim of fraud.
Ross Martin, Head of Digital Safety at Barclays Bank, was on air on Wednesday 20 May and explained about being aware of online and telephone scams and how to avoid them.
Other experts and organisations featured across the week included Ability Net and Victim Support Fraud.
On Thursday 20 May, Robert Kirkwood interviewed Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet.com, on a range of issues, including avoiding scams like fake texts pretending to be from a bank and how to recover funds if you think you've been a victim of fraud.
Mike Andrews, Head of National Trading Standards eCrime Team, spoke to Robert Kirkwood on Friday 21 May about fraud, including a scam fine for breaking lockdown and how your email password is the "key to the kingdom" so needs to be secure and protected.
What the major UK banks say:
Shopping online is safe as long as you take some precautions.
Make sure you create strong passwords for your online accounts and don’t use the same password for all of them.
Don’t use public wi-fi. Your standard data connection is more secure.
For expensive purchases (goods costing more than £100), pay by credit card rather than debit card if possible, as a credit card will give you greater protection if things go wrong.
Don’t put in your card details unless you are convinced the internet page is secure.
Look for a padlock symbol in your browser window (in most browsers this is found where the webpage address is displayed, or announced as "site information button" or similar by screen readers)
Make sure the website address begins with “https://”. The “s” stands for “secure”. This isn't an iron-clad guarantee, but still worth checking for.
Before you purchase something online, ask yourself:
Do I trust the vendor?
Do they have a secure website?
What are their delivery times and how much do they charge?
What is their returns policy?
Can I contact them if something goes wrong?
Are there any hidden charges?
Could it be a scam? (Signs that something might be a scam include deals that are too good to be true, or being asked to pay for something in an unusual way, for example by bank transfer.)
Protecting your computer
Even if you're dealing with a legitimate merchant, you're at risk if your computer is infected, so make sure that your computer is secure. Keep your operating system and browsers updated and use a good and up-to-date internet security programme.
Using assistive technology
Assistive technology is designed to help enable blind or partially sighted people to use technology effectively. There is a wide range of assistive technology available to help with using the internet, including in-built options in laptops, tables and smartphones, specialist hardware and assistive software packages. Visit our technology section for more information.
Your rights as an internet shopper
As an internet shopper, you have the right to:
information about goods and services before you buy
a confirmation of your order in paper, by email or another format you can save for future reference
a cooling off period of up to 14 days in which to cancel your order if you change your mind (different arrangements exist for food ordered via the internet)
protection of your credit card against fraud.
You can get detailed advice on how to shop safely and protect yourself against fraud, your rights and how to resolve problems with online orders from these sources:
Charities need to raise funds, particularly at time when some of their services are needed more than ever. If you would like to support RNIB’s vital work but have any concerns about a request for support you have received, please do not hesitate to contact our fundraising enquiry line at [email protected] or call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm).
There are many secure ways to help fund RNIB’s vital work, including online.