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Police commissioner warns businesses of increased cyber threat during Covid-19 pandemic

Businesses are being urged to take extra care because of an increased threat of fraud and cybercrime during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There have been more than 500 coronavirus scams and over 2,000 phishing attempts reported to UK investigators, according to latest figures from Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Figures that will undoubtedly continue to grow due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, has offered support to businesses during the pandemic, as many have adapted their working practices and the swift adoption of new technologies has increased risk.

In support of the South West Business Council’s Covid-19 Taskforce her office has set up a dedicated email address for them to message with any business security questions that police, partner agencies or her office can help with.

The commissioner said: “Measures taken to ensure we are protected from the virus means that many business owners are working from home and online. It is vital that they take steps to protect themselves as sadly criminals are taking every opportunity to take advantage and scam innocent business owners. My office wants to help as much as we can so if businesses do have any queries about how they can protect themselves then I urge them to get in touch.

“There have been numerous stories across our region of scammers contacting people, including business owners, by phone and email, impersonating large organisations and using very clever graphics and contact information to make people think they are speaking or corresponding with somebody from a genuine company or organisation.

“I would urge everyone to always be vigilant and familiarise themselves with the Government guidance that can be found online to ensure they are protected.”

Tim Jones, chairman of the South West Business Council, said: “Prior to covid-19, the threat of fraud was already a huge worry for small and large businesses especially in rural communities. The current crisis has given added focus to this issue with many businesses not always being able to rely on the help of their bank or insurance to help them cover in what some cases can be a significant financial loss.”

In addition to Government guidance, the National Cyber Security Centre offers advice to self-employed, sole traders and small to medium sized organisations, including how to ensure devices such as smartphones and computers are protected so that cyber criminals don’t have access to company details. It also publishes a Small Business Guide to help protect against fraud.

Many businesses will be needing access to information and extra support at this time, as a result, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has published a list of support services that can offer help to businesses including financial support. You can find this guidance on the website.

For business security questions, please email the OPCC at OPCCbusinesssupport@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk