Coronavirus scams to be aware of
Unfortunately there are those who are using this situation as an opportunity to exploit others. Suffolk Trading Standards has made us aware of the following scams they have identified:
- There have been reports in Suffolk of people pretending to be from the British Red Cross, knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable individuals, taking their money to do shopping – and then not returning. There have also been reports that cards are being put through doors with the British Red Cross branding, offering help. The British Red Cross are NOT utilising a postcard system currently in connection to Covid-19 and any distribution of these cards locally needs to be reported to Suffolk Trading Standards via 0808 223 1133. Please share and make sure your neighbours and any elderly/vulnerable relatives are aware.
- Suffolk Trading Standards has received reports that Nottingham Knockers have been calling at properties across the County, often acting aggressively towards the resident. These individuals are claiming to be on a youth offending scheme, attempting to mend their ways, before trying to sell the householder everyday household products at very high prices. Trading Standards always advise residents to refrain from buying at the doorstep and not to buckle to pressure from salespeople offering supposedly one-off ‘buy it now’ low prices. These Nottingham Knockers work in groups across the country but they are not involved in any officially recognised offender rehabilitation programme and many do not possess Pedlar’s Certificates, which are issued by police. If you are approached at the door, please refuse to buy. You can report them to Trading Standards via 0808 223 1133 or to Suffolk Police on 101.
- Reports of scammers telephoning pretending to be from ‘Southern Electric’ offering £5000 credit ‘to help people through the Coronavirus crisis’ if they can collect a £520 cash payment. The caller goes on to advice that they will visit the property of the resident to collect the payment, and then the credit will be added to their account. Protect yourself - be suspicious of unexpected calls, especially if you’re asked to make an up-front payment or to give your bank account details. The safest thing to do is hang up. Avoid making a payment to a company or person that contacts you out of the blue, especially if you’re asked to purchase a voucher, pay directly into a bank account, use a money transfer company, or to pay a courier. If you think you have been approached by scammers, you should report it to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. If you think you might have been scammed, stop sending money to the company and individuals involved straight away. If you have given them your bank account details, tell your bank immediately.
Please report any cold callers to Trading Standards via 0808 223 1133.
- Trading Standard have received a number of queries about individuals and businesses exploiting the current Covid-19 situation and selling products at very high prices. Although this does not breach any regulations that Trading Standards cover, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are keen to receive reports. The CMA wants to ensure that traders do not exploit the current situation to take advantage of people. Retailers are urged to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. Members of the public are reminded that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces. To report a retailer or individual, you can do so by emailing email@example.com with the following information:
- your contact details
- the business/individual you have concerns about and a description of the issue along with any supporting evidence.
COVID-19 Phishing Emails
A number of #COVID19 related phishing emails have been reported to Action Fraud. These emails attempt to trick you into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing your personal information, logins, passwords, or banking details.
1) Watch out for scam messages
Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
2) Shopping online:
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely
3) Protect your devices from the latest threats:
Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.
For information on how to update your devices, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices
For the latest health information and advice about COVID-19 please visit the NHS website.
Advice from the Police
Use the following link for advice from the Police on protecting yourselves, and those who may be more vulnerable, from scams: Police Advice