We are aware that fraudsters are exploiting the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation for their own gain. We want to make sure you and your families are safe so please do take note of the information below.
These are troubling and uncertain times for all of us, and we urge you to stay especially alert to scams and doorstep callers. Some of the scams we are aware of are listed below. Please be aware this is an ever-changing situation, and fraudsters will come up with other ways to reach their targets, for example phone, letter, text, email, at the door.
Examples of attempted fraud
- Miracle cure. There is no current cure or vaccine for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Any such claims are false, and the products fake.
- Tests for sale. At this present time, tests cannot be bought and any tests on sale will be fake.
- Deep cleaning. Do not allow people into your home, even if they claim to be the council carrying out a deep clean. This includes cleaning drive ways, paths, etc.
- Protective equipment. Fake face masks, hazard suits and gloves claiming to protect from Coronavirus will not give the protection promised.
- Fake Hand Sanitisers. These products can contain harmful, even banned substances. Ingredients must always be listed on the product itself.
- Goodwill payments, tax rebates, offers of money. Email or Text (SMS) messages claiming to be from HMRC or other organisations offering a ‘goodwill payment’ or a tax rebate will be phishing attempts. An example would be: “As Part of the NHS promise to battle the COV- 19virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment. Follow link to apply”. Do not follow such links.
- Fake Apps. There are new mobile phone apps that claim to give you updates on the virus, instead they lock your phone and demand a ransom. Do not use them.
- Bogus Officials. Your bank or the police will NEVER ask for your bank details over the phone.
- Overcharging. Certain products, such as toilet rolls, hand sanitizer and handwash can be difficult to get hold of because of panic buying. Unscrupulous people are selling such items at inflated prices. This is an unfair practice and Trading Standards are interested in knowing who is selling such items.
There are a lot of easy things you can do to stay safe:
- Be sceptical, not everyone has your best interests at heart.
- Unless you are expecting a visitor, do not open the door to cold callers. This is especially important at this current time of social distancing and self-isolation.
- Do not accept help from people who want money up front, for example for shopping.
- Never give your debit/credit card or PIN number to anyone in person, over the phone or via email.
- Take your time, don’t be rushed on the phone, and if in any doubt, hang up and check with a friend or relative.
- Do not click on links in text (SMS) or emails unless you know who they are from.
- If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk.
- Facebook community groups, WhatsApp groups and the Nextdoor app that send neighbourhood alerts can be great ways of staying in touch with those around you. However, be cautious as it is not always easy to know who you can trust.
- Know who you are dealing with; if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with us if you have any concerns.
- Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, contact details) to people without verifying their credentials. Always ask for ID and contact the company they work for directly to check.
- Make sure your computer has up to date anti-virus software and a firewall installed.
- Many frauds start with phishing emails. Banks and other financial institutions will not send you an email asking you for information or to click on a link, so never provide this information.
- Sign up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code when you are given the option to when shopping online. This will involve registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to your transactions.
- Regularly check bank statements for entries you don’t recognise. If you don’t recognise a transaction, contact your bank immediately.
- Destroy or shred any receipts or post with your card details on.
Please also be mindful of loan sharks. If you are concerned visit Loan Sharks or call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222 to safely report someone.