The scale and spread of the coronavirus pandemic may have created a real sense that we’re all in this together and working towards a common goal. But, as with any major incident, there are always those who will seek to exploit the confusion caused by the situation, and set up scams. So it’s never been more important to take care online.
Stay alert to scams
The National Cyber Security Centre is urging everyone to be extra vigilant and follow online safety advice following a range of attacks linked to the coronavirus outbreak. Many of these attacks have involved bogus emails with links claiming to have important COVID-19 updates. When these links are clicked it can lead to devices being infected and information stolen.
These so-called ‘phishing’ attempts, which can involve emails, phone calls, fake websites and product advertising, have been reported in several countries and can lead to loss of money and sensitive data. Criminals have even been posing as the World Health Organisation calling for donations.
Take extra care with your savings
UK regulators including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Money and Pensions Service have also urged savers not to make any rash decisions in relation to their savings and investments such as pensions.
Fears over the impact of the pandemic on markets and personal finances may make savers more vulnerable to scams or to making a decision that could damage their long-term interests. Scam tactics may include advising people to invest or transfer existing investments into non-standard or allegedly high-return investments.
Charles Counsell, Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator, says: “All savers should be very cautious about making changes at this time. More than ever before, you should visit The Pensions Advisory Service website for impartial guidance before making any decision about your retirement, or get financial advice from a Financial Conduct Authority-authorised financial adviser.”
You can find out more about what to look out for and how to protect yourself on the FCA website.
If you don’t have your own adviser, you can find one in your area at unbiased.co.uk. Please note there is usually a cost for financial advice.
Staying safe online
Of course, the reality is that with current restrictions on movement most of us are having to do more online, and this might include managing your savings and investments.
If you’re a Standard Life pension or Individual Savings Account (ISA) customer there’s a lot you can do online, and this can help free up our telephony service for more vulnerable customers during these exceptional circumstances.
Registering for online services will allow you to get answers to a lot of your questions, check how much your plan is worth and take some key actions.
And it’s perfectly safe to do so if you follow some basic online security guidance. It’s all outlined here in our Online Security FAQ, including:
- How to stay safe online – from avoiding clicking links to choosing a safe environment
- How to set strong passwords
- What you should do if you have received an email from Standard Life
- How to spot a ‘phishing’ email
- Staying secure on mobile technology
- Protecting yourself on social media
Protecting your data is a top priority for Standard Life and we have multiple technical controls in place along with strong business processes and staff training to make sure it stays safe.
And remember, we’ll never call you and ask you to login to your account or send you an email asking for security details or other confidential information.
Want to know more?
For more information, visit the Information Commissioner’s Office’s website for tips on staying one step ahead of the scammers.
To find out more about scams including a warning list of known scams visit Scamsmart.
If you have received a suspicious email, here’s a guide on what to do, including if you have already clicked the link.
And, if you would like guidance and support about how the impact of coronavirus might affect your pension or investments visit the Pensions Advisory Service website.
The information in this article should not be regarded as financial advice. Please remember that the value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than was paid in. Information is based on our understanding in April 2020.