While most of us are doing our best to fight coronavirus, some criminals are doing their best to exploit the crisis.
Here are some of the coronavirus scams which have been reported around the country… as if we don’t all have enough to worry about! Being aware of scams is the first step to not falling victim to them, so please read these and be vigilant. Also pass on the information to anyone you think might be vulnerable to scammers looking to steal their belongings, money or data.
- In some areas, individuals are going door-to-door purporting to sell face mask or other hygiene products. In reality they are trying to gain access to vulnerable people’s homes. Don’t open the door to any unsolicited caller, especially during the coronavirus crisis when we must all practise social distancing.
- There have been reports of individuals going door-to-door impersonating Red Cross worker, health authority officials or even volunteer workers. Some claim to be carrying out mandatory testing for coronavirus but again it is just an excise to get inside your home. Do not let them in, even if they have official-looking ID or documents.
- People have been receiving texts or email messages claiming to be from the Police or Government and saying that you have been fined for leaving the house, with instructions to ring a given number or click on a link. This is a scam – you should delete it immediately.
- Similar text messages and emails are circulating which claim to be from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs). They say you are due a tax refund and should phone a number or click on a link. Don’t – it’s a scam. Engaging with it will cost you money so just delete it.
- Police have received reports of people receiving emails or texts which claim to be from the UK Government and that it is issuing all residents with an emergency coronavirus payment. It asks people to click on a link which then connects to a fake ‘gov.uk’ website and asks people to enter personal details in order to receive their payment. A golden rule with scams is that if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
- Some people have received scam phone calls offering ‘priority vaccinations’ against coronavirus. This is a scam – there is currently no vaccine against coronavirus and even if there was, you would be contacted by your own GP surgery.
- In some areas parents have received an email stating: “As schools are closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported.” The Department of Education has confirmed that this is a scam email and you should never disclose bank details in an email or text.
- An existing scam which seems to have escalated during the coronavirus crisis is when fake ‘missed parcel’ notes are pushed through people’s doors. They tell the recipient to ring a number printed on the card to rearrange delivery, but this will connect to a premium rate phone number and potentially cost hundreds of pounds. The cards can appear very convincing so you must be extra vigilant. Tis scam seems to have been ramped up because more of us are using online shopping and delivery to comply with the ‘stay at home’ guidelines.
Remember, stay alert to possible scams and if anything appears remotely suspicious, treat it with extreme caution. Don’t let anyone into your house unless you are absolutely 100% sure of their identity and intentions, and don’t respond to unsolicited phone calls, text messages or emails. If someone calls on you claiming to be from a particular organisation or company, ring that organisation or company on a number you know to be genuine (not one the caller gives you) to check they are who they claim to be.
If you’re unsure, seek advice from someone you trust and always err on the side of caution. You can report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/ Only be reporting scams can they be put in the spotlight so that more people don’t fall victim to them.