Be aware of scams and protect yourself and others
Here is some useful advice as to how you can access support and safeguard yourself against scams.
Things such as Facebook Community Groups, WhatsApp Groups and the Nextdoor social network that send neighborhood alerts can be great ways of staying in touch with those around you, however it can be difficult to know who to trust.
Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:
Please be aware that not everyone out there is trustworthy, and some people will take advantage of this unusual situation our society is facing.
Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
- People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.
- Home cleaning services that offer to clean drives, doorways and your home to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.
- People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
- Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
- There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
- There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
- Be wary of calls from people claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company. Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
- Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.
- Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe.
How to protect yourself from scams
There are some simple steps people can take to help protect themselves from scams:
- Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
- Don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time.
- Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you don’t know, trust or have only met online. If someone pressures you for these, it’s most likely a scam
- Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and take a look at their terms and conditions.
- Pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
- If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.
- If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
- Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information. Check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and take a look at their terms and conditions
- Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council.
What to do if someone has been scammed
If someone has been scammed, there are 3 steps they need to take:
1. Protect themselves from further risks
There are things they can do to stop things getting worse. They should contact their bank immediately to let them know what’s happened. They should also change any relevant log-in details, and check for viruses if they were scammed on a computer.
2. Check if they can get their money back
If they’ve lost money because of a scam, there might be ways they can get it back. Again, make sure they tell their bank what happened straight away. If they’ve paid for something by card, bank transfer, Direct Debit or PayPal, then depending on the circumstances they might be able to help them get their money back.
3. Report the scam
Reporting scams helps authorities stop the criminals responsible, and protects others from being scammed. Anyone who’s been scammed should:
It’s also important for us to all talk about our experiences with family and friends.
- Call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133, We’ll pass on details of the scam to Trading Standards, and can offer further advice
- Report the scam to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud, on 0300 123 2040. They'll also give them a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you've been scammed
- If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
By letting them know what’s happened they can be prepared, and together we can put a stop to scams.
Friends Against Scams Online Learning
To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit FriendsAgainstScams (opens in new window) and complete the free online training.
You can check recent scams on Action Fraud’s website, and sign up for email alerts (opens in new window) to find out about scams in your area.
You can also find out about common financial scams on the Financial Conduct Authority’s
website (opens in new window).
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