Grant funding schemes – protect your business from fraudsters

What we will and will not do when administering Grant funding

In this uncertain time South Cambridgeshire District Council is committed to assisting businesses within the community to protect future trade by ensuring that those genuinely eligible for assistance receive it.

In response to the Coronavirus - COVID 19 Crisis, Central Government announced Grant funding support for small businesses, businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors on 11 March 2020; Further enhancing its commitment by increasing the level of funding available, to those eligible, on 17 March 2020 in England.

Unfortunately in times of crisis some unscrupulous individuals or companies will target funds and businesses purely for personal financial gain taking funds away from the businesses that need it the most.

This page sets out what you can expect from South Cambridgeshire District Council in its communications and transactions with you, to administer payments, and advises businesses on what they can look out for to protect themselves from fraud.

We will

  • Write and e-mail ratepayers that have been identified as eligible for the grants encouraging those eligible to apply for funding online. If you have any queries please email businessgrants@scambs.gov.uk
  • This gives businesses some assurance that they are giving their sensitive financial information for legitimate purposes and directly to the Authority and not a third party.
  • Conduct checks to verify the information that you provide to us is correct. This may include referring to existing information held by the Council and using external verification processes.
  • The Authority has an obligation to protect public funds and to ensure that only legitimate, qualifying applications, receive support.
  • Take action against any individuals committing fraud including prosecuting those found to have given false or misleading information to obtain grant funding.
  • To protect public funds, deter fraudulent applications and punish those found committing fraudulent acts to obtain money that they are not entitled to.
  • Administer payments in line with Central Government Eligibility Criteria.
  • Only where a business qualifies under the guidance set out by Central Government will South Cambridgeshire District Council Grant funds. The Authority does not have discretion to act beyond guidance.
  • Recover grant funding if you are not the ratepayer on the eligible date.
  • By accepting the grant payment you are confirming that you are eligible for the grant scheme.
  • Encourage you to inform us of any circumstances where you believe you have been approached by fraudsters trying to obtain details.
  • This will allow us to review our policies and procedures to see how we can help to prevent attempts and identify future and emerging risks. Please email fraud@scambs.gov.uk if you have questions / concerns.

We will not

  • Contact you via telephone to ask you for bank account details or ask you for financial information that is not required to administer grants.
  • The Authority will not request information over the telephone or ask for information that it is not entitled to in order to administer grants and will never require a PIN or Passcodes relating to accounts.
  • Expect you to use a third party or ‘agent’ claiming a fee to administer a grant payment to you.
  • Companies are already in operation offering companies assistance to obtain grants that they are already entitled to. You do not need to pay anybody to act on your behalf and you should not provide financial details to third party companies in order to receive a grant payment from South Cambridgeshire District Council. When your payment is received the reference will show on your statement as ‘South Cambridgeshire District Council’.  Using an ‘agent’ or third party to assist with applying for a grant payment will not speed up receiving your grant or mean that those not entitled within the government's eligibility guidelines receive payments.
  • Refer to payments as COVID 19 or debit funds from your account using this reference.
  • If you notice references to debits with Coronavirus- COVID 19 references this will not be South Cambridgeshire District Council.
  • We will not share your information to third parties unless the business allows this.
  • We may share information provided to us with other bodies responsible for auditing, administering public funds, or where undertaking a public function, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
  • Further information is available on our National Fraud Initiative page. 

If you suspect that you have been targeted or are a victim of fraud please contact the Action Fraud team. 

For further information please visit Cambridgeshire Insights. 

Key protection advice for businesses

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They will spend hours researching your business, hoping you will let your guard down for just a moment. Please be aware of the below scam trends. 

COVID-19 Government grants

Emails purporting to be from government state the recipient can get a free evaluation for emergency COVID-19 tax relief. The emails are personalised to the recipient and contain a malicious link.

Bitcoin investment

Emails advertising investments in Bitcoin platforms that claim to “take advantage of the financial downturn” and can help people recover from bankruptcy. A link is provided in the email which claims to take recipients to a website that explains how Bitcoin trading platforms work. This link has 2 main threats; one for phishing and one for malware, where the suspect is trying to steal credentials and/or get the recipient to download a virus.

Stop: If you receive a request to make an urgent payment, change supplier bank details, or provide financial information, take a moment to stop and think.

Challenge: Could it be fake? Verify all payments and supplier details directly with the company on a known phone number or in person first.

Protect: Contact your business’s bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed and report it to Action Fraud.

Keeping your business secure online

Criminals will try to gain access to your device or network, and everything stored on it. They can do this by:

  • Sending emails with malicious attachments
  • Exploiting vulnerabilities in your operating systems if they are not up-to-date
  • Trying to get you to click links or visit malicious websites.

Once they have access to your device and your data, they may try to steal your data or extract money from you by getting you to pay a ransom. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your device and operating systems and educate others on your network.

Please visit National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to find out more.

You can also read the National Cyber Security Centre’s Small Business Guide for more advice on how to keep your business secure online access other resources to keep your business secure.

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