Beware of Scams!
Dangerous fraudsters have been buying fake NHS and care provider lanyards so they can try to trick their way into the homes of vulnerable people, Surrey Trading Standards has warned. Officers are advising residents to never let anyone they’re not expecting or don’t recognise into their home. They should check first with the caller’s employer either by ringing a number from a phone book or website, or from any existing paperwork. If there’s any doubt don’t let them in. The lanyards are being removed from sale by companies including EBay, after they were alerted by a Surrey resident.
Complaints to trading standards have jumped by 40 per cent since March from residents being targeted by serious Coronavirus-related frauds. Action Fraud estimates more than £930,000 has already been lost nationally to such scams since February. Statistics show victims of previous scams are more likely to be targeted again, endangering savings, health and independence and causing additional community and NHS support.
The scams include:
- A COVID-19 voucher informing the email recipient that they can receive money-off vouchers to help with purchases during the pandemic.
- Automated calls (sometimes from a spoofed local number) telling people the government have advised everyone to wear face masks.
- Sales of miracle cures for coronavirus and fake face masks.
- Phoney charity collectors.
- COVID-19 quizzes on social media claiming to test your knowledge while trying to steal your personal data.
- Cyber attackers targeting businesses and people working from home.
- Fake health-care workers offering home-testing kits.
- Fake HMRC phishing emails and texts that offer a tax refund to help people protect their finances during lockdown.
- Thieves offering to shop for the elderly and vulnerable and keeping the money.
Denise Turner-Stewart, Surrey cabinet member for Community Safety, Fire and Resilience, said: “At a time where community spirit is vitally needed to support and help the more vulnerable members of our society, we are sadly seeing an unprecedented rise in scams and fraudulent activity. Since the outbreak started, trading standards has written to 300 residents with tailored scams advice. These letters are being followed up with weekly phone calls to repeat scam prevention messages, and to provide human interaction. I would like to thank all of our residents who have told us which scams they, members of their families and neighbours have received, enabling us to give warnings to all our communities in Surrey.”
Residents are warned to remember key advice from trading standards to protect themselves from frauds:
- Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
- Take your time, don’t be rushed.
- If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk.
- Know who you’re dealing with. If you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with trading standards on the numbers below.
- Be aware of advice online about home remedies and treatment for the virus. See medical advice only from qualified doctors.
- Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know and particularly after the announcement that key workers and their families can now book to be tested for coronavirus.
- Do NOT give money, your bank card or PIN to a stranger.
If you think you have been scammed call police on 101 (999 only in an emergency).
Ms Turner-Stewart added: “Now more so than ever, it is important for residents to be aware, be vigilant, know who to trust and remember that not everyone out there is trustworthy. We ask residents to remember trading standards’ advice and check in with friends, family and neighbours to check they’re all right.”
To report a scam –
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01296 388788.
For more consumer advice, support or Surrey County Council’s Coronavirus Information Hub