Cifas weekly Covid-19 scam update

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is highlighting the latest coronavirus scams from the past week, and warning the public to stay vigilant of the ever-changing tactics that scammers are using to extract money and information.

Scams notified to Cifas include the use of false FOI requests for business grant applications and fraudsters targeting families organising funerals for loved ones by contacting them and purporting to be from their local authority’s bereavement services team and asking them for credit card details to pay their funeral director.

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘Each week we see fraudsters adopting new ways to steal money and information from innocent members of the public. Remember that criminals are preying on people’s fear and anxieties around the pandemic, so never be rushed or pressured into giving anyone your bank or personal details – even if the request appears to be legitimate.

Equifax Cyber Incident


Equifax have posted a statement on their UK website confirming that around 400,000 UK citizens have been affected by the recent cybersecurity hack.

The security breach is limited to name, date of birth, email addresses and telephone numbers and does not include addresses, passwords or financial information.

Equifax  statement.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned that the main risk to those affected is the possibility of receiving more targeted phishing emails. The stolen data can be used to make false email messages look very authentic as fraudsters can use your real name and  your telephone number to look like authentic emails.

These phishing emails can come from any source unrelated to Equifax and can look very realistic and can be used to trick unwary recipients into clicking on malicious links or even replying to these fraudsters.

With the stolen telephone numbers there is the opportunity for scammers to attempt to target unsuspecting users with scam phone calls.

The Advice

NEVER share passwords or bank details with anyone on the phone or by email and NEVER click on a link or attachment unless you are absolutely assured that the link is authentic.

If you’re not sure don’t click on it!

The Bank of England’s chief cashier, Victoria Cleland – does not use contactless payment cards.

Larry Elliott Guardian Economics editor

‘I don’t use contactless’: the woman whose name is on British banknotes

Victoria Cleland – Bank of England’s Chief Cashier

It is perhaps not entirely surprising to learn that the woman whose signature adorns Bank of England banknotes is a big fan of cash. She does not use contactless payment cards for personal spending – not least because she is yet to trust the technology completely.

Continue reading “The Bank of England’s chief cashier, Victoria Cleland – does not use contactless payment cards.”

Dynamic Currency Conversion – Benefit or Rip Off?

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) allows you to pay in either your own or the local currency when using an ATM or credit card terminal when abroad.

There are extra costs associated with both options.

UK banks charge fees of up to 3% for most foreign transactions, such as using your debit card to take out cash from cash machines or buy things while you’re abroad

For Irish banks the fees and charges are quite similar.

Using Dynamic Currency Conversion DCC and choosing to pay in your own currency gives you an immediate conversion rate but includes extra fees which are split three ways between the card issuer – your bank, the merchant – the restaurant or store  and the DCC provider.

Every time you press the button “Pay in Your Own Currency” you are inadvertently ripping yourself off.

Most people will choose this option though, as it is counter-intuitive to pay in a foreign currency given the logic that another conversion fee might seem likely.

Large merchants like hotel groups and airlines who take online payments get a cut of the higher customer charges and it is sometimes difficult to locate where you can pay in the local currency to avoid DCC charges.

Pay in the Local Currency

If you choose the option to pay in the local currency you will still be charged exchange fees and this will show on your statement. However the fees will be a lot lower than using DCC.

The UK Cards Association offers the following advice:-

“A retailer or ATM may give you the choice of paying in your
home currency or the local currency. If you pay in your home
currency, make sure the exchange rate is competitive. If you
are in any doubt, pay the bill in the local currency as it will
generally be cheaper.

The Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission advises those travelling outside the euro zone that “it is usually more cost effective to pay in the local currency“.

Bottom line

Dynamic Currency Conversion DCC may not be in the same category as other travel scams, but it can be an easy way for you to spend more money than you should when you travel outside your own currency area.

Knowledge is half the battle and I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to avoid being overcharged on your next trip abroad.