Watch out for coronavirus scams

Could it be a scam?

Be #ScamAware

Watch out for coronavirus scams – whether that’s emails pretending to be from the government, adverts selling face masks at high prices or someone knocking at your door asking for money for a fake charity. Illustration showing telephone scammer stealing money from woman's handbag

Don’t give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust and don’t click on any links they send you. 

Since lockdown, more than £7 million pounds has been reported lost by 2,378 victims of coronavirus-related scams.

Criminals continue to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to defraud innocent members of the public.

Don’t become one of their victims. 

There are a number of common scams you should be aware of:

Fake face masks: A shortage of PPE has led to some people selling bogus items. In some cases people are going door-to-door and use their sales pitch as an excuse to gain access to a property. Other counterfeit products include hand sanitiser or swabbing kits.

Bogus Red Cross workers: Some cold callers are taking the scam a step further and actually calling on residents pretending to be from either the Red Cross or NHS. They claim to be carrying out mandatory testing, again in hope of getting into people's houses. 

Scam police warnings: Some people have received text messages claiming to be from police and government, warning they'll face fines for leaving their home during the lockdown. There have also been less frequent reports of people being approached in person and demanding money.

Made-up tax rebates: Even in normal times it's not uncommon for criminals to pose as officials from HM Revenue & Customs and with many residents seeing a squeeze on their finances, it’s not surprising that attempts to entice them with bogus rebates continue.

Government giveaways: Along similar lines are texts and emails which claim to be from government departments. These are often branded to look like official messages & direct people to a fake website where they're asked to enter sensitive personal info, such as bank details.

Vaccine fast-tracking: Some people have reported calls offering 'priority' vaccines. There is currently no vaccine for Covid-19 and any inoculation programme could still be 12-18 months away.

Missed parcels: Many more residents are having deliveries to their home due to self-isolation but some scammers are using this to their advantage by leaving fake 'missed parcel' notices on the doorstep. This encourages people to call a premium-rate number to arrange for another delivery.

NHS Test and Trace: It is important to remember that NHS Test and Trace will never ask you for any form of payment or any passwords or PINs. They will also never ask you to download anything, ask any details about your bank account or send someone to your home. While it is possible for criminals to fake official phone numbers, they cannot fake official website addresses. We would encourage anyone with concerns about a phone call, text message or email they have received, in relation to Test and Trace, to check the website address being provided to you carefully. If possible, type the official address, which will be followed by unique characters given to you, directly into your browser.

You can download an easy read guide about scams produced by national Mencap.

To report fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit the Action Fraud website

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 for advice.