COVID-19 and scams
Scams hope to take advantage of the most vulnerable in our communities, and our Trading Standards team is aware scam activity relating to COVID-19 in Nottinghamshire.
Here are just some of the scams we are aware of which are targeting Nottinghamshire communities:
- Unwanted callers asking for donations to help those in need during this time
- Individuals making contact out of the blue claiming to be from official organisations and asking for payment for the latest COVID-19 information and treatments which do not exist
- Calls and emails offering miracle cures
- Door-to-door visitors claiming to be from the British Red Cross offering testing
- Individuals offering to do shopping and not returning with the bank card and the groceries
- Emails posing as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO)
- Emails claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax rebate due to the coronavirus
- Text messages claiming to be from GOV.UK requesting money for breaching stay at home regulations
- Fraudulent messages to parents entitled to free school meals requesting bank details.
While scams aren’t always easy to spot, we’ve put together some top tips on protecting yourself and your loved ones from scams.
- Always ask for identification from those who turn up out of the blue at your property, and if in doubt call the organisation directly to verify
- Be suspicious of requests for money up front and never feel pressured into handing any over
- Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help and support. Those who are genuine will be happy to wait for your response
- Legitimate organisations will not contact you out of the blue to ask for payment. Make sure to remember this if you are contacted.
- If an email does not look right, never click on links or attachments. If you are unsure about whether an email is genuine, ask family and friends to make sure
- Protect your financial information, especially from those you don’t know. Never give your bank card or pin number to a stranger
- If in doubt, don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door!
If you are a carer or have an older relative, please be on the lookout for any signs that they have been scammed. Each situation is different but typical signs could include:
- receiving lots of unwanted calls
- unusual transactions on bank statements
- becoming unwilling to go out (just in case they miss the next phone call telling them what they have won)
- no money to buy food / pay bills
- lots of mail
- unwilling to throw any old post away.
- Consumer advice and information
- View a video about scams by Friends Against Scams
- Information Commissioner: advice on nuisance telephone calls
- Think Jessica website: protecting elderly and vulnerable people from scams which come through the postal system and criminals who contact them by telephone
- The Silver Line Helpline (helpline for older people): 0800 4 70 80 90
- Citizens Advice Consumer Service or call 0808 223 1133 for further advice or help for a relative
- A to Z of fraud on Action Fraud website
- Find out about neighbourhood watch schemes in your area or how to set up your own scheme.
- Carry out research into any test provider you are considering and the products or services they supply. Check sources of information, such as checking company procedures, getting recommendations from trusted colleagues and checking online review sites. If you are a member of a trade association or have business insurance they may also provide advice.
- You can check if a testing provider is listed on the Department for Health and Social Care website (DHSC) although it’s important for you to do your own research as they do not approve or recommend providers.
- Be wary of contact from businesses offering private sector testing or other products and services relating to coronavirus out of the blue.
- Emails and text messages can be made to look like they are from a genuine and sometimes an official government source, but they may be a scam. Always check.
- Never provide bank or card details to anyone who has contacted you unannounced.
- Make sure that all staff are aware of business scams and how to report problems.
- Don’t make a rushed decision and check any small print carefully before signing any document and make sure that everything is confirmed in writing before making an agreement. Check also that you have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the company.
- Remember that a verbal contract is binding. Although you may be able to escape a contract if you have been misled, it is easier not to make the contract in the first place.
- Become a Business Against Scams to keep up with the latest information and join a movement to stop scams.
- Report any suspicious activity and/ or problem private testing providers to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. You can also report the information to Action Fraud.