The COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, situation has been difficult for many.
Unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of this unusual time to carry out scams.
It is important to be aware of online scams that exist on services such as Facebook Community Groups, WhatsApp Groups and the Nextdoor social network. Though these services can provide great ways of staying in touch with those around you, it can be difficult to know who to trust.
Trading Standards have provided advice on how to access support and safeguard yourself against scams.
Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:
Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
Home cleaning services.
People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and are just after your personal and bank details.
There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you against or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
People offering to do your shopping or collect medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.
Tips to avoid being scammed:
Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
Take your time; don’t be rushed.
If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts you into accepting a service, they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.
If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.
If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.
To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk.