We have been informed by Northamptonshire Trading Standards that a number of scams have sprung up in the wake of COVID-19.
Here are just some of the scams that NTS are aware of (although 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 currently no vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Home decontamination services.
- People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus.
- Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus – the perpetrators are normally after your personal and financial details.
- There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you from coronavirus. Follow the government advice on protecting yourself, and ensure that any protective products (such as hand sanitiser) are purchased from genuine companies.
- Certain mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead lock your phone and demand a ransom.
- Someone from your bank or the police asking for your bank details. Banks or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
- People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication, asking for money upfront and then disappearing.
- Impersonation of officials, including HMRC and government agencies.
- Subscription and streaming service emails prompting account updates or requesting personal details.
- Social media quizzes and games that ask for personal information (i.e. your mother’s maiden name).
Here are some tips to avoid being scammed:
- Take your time – don’t be rushed.
- If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money upfront.
- Don’t assume everyone is genuine. It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.
- If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as the www.gov.uk or www.nhs.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails or messages.
- 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 trust or get in touch using the numbers at the bottom of this article.
- Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.
- Be suspicious of requests for updating your account details. If someone pressures you, they are unlikely to be genuine.
- Be aware of the amount of personal information you share on social media; not all quizzes are harmless.
- If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
- If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- If you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
- 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 and complete the free online training.
Why not become a Scam Marshal?
A Scam Marshal is any resident in the UK who has been targeted by a scam and now wants to fight back and take a stand against scams. Scam Marshals do this by sharing their own experiences, helping others to report and recognise scams, and sending any scam mail that they receive to the National Trading Standards Scams Team so that it can be utilised as evidence in future investigative and enforcement work. Visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk/ScamMarshals for more information and to sign up.