Beware of coronavirus scams

Sadly, criminals have exploited the current situation to defraud vulnerable residents and businesses so please take extra care.

Please be wary of social media posts claiming you can get a free £258 award from the government to help during the coronavirus outbreak just by entering your bank details. Government departments never ask for your bank details in this way. It is a scam designed to trick you out of money.

Similarly there is a text message going around asking recipients to pay a £35 fine, after being 'recorded as leaving their home on three occasions'. Weblinks on the text are likely to go through to dodgy websites looking to steal personal information or install malware.

Please also beware of people offering or selling shopping, medication or home cleaning services. Please note that virus testing kits are only offered by the NHS and there are no vaccines or cures. Be careful of online marketplaces selling goods like face masks and hand sanitisers that don’t exist.

There are people pretending to be from research organisations linked to the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area and the link to the information leads to a malicious website. These emails can trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.

If you need financial help please see our Welfare Rights and Debt Advice service.

Our advice

  • Before you buy anything online, it’s best to do some research and check reviews to make sure a seller is genuine.
  • Don’t click on unusual weblinks or any that ask you to confirm financial details.
  • Never sign or agree to anything on the spot.
  • Check the identity of anyone who comes to your home. Ask for an ID card and look up the company to check it is genuine.
  • Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home or your health.
  • Read the small print. Always read documents carefully before you sign them and make sure you fully understand your rights.
  • Don’t give anyone financial information over the phone.
  • If you’re unsure, always hang up and call back.
  • Don’t call back unusual phone numbers or ones starting with 00.
  • Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion.
  • Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For more advice, call Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133. They also have an online scams helper. 

As a council, we would never ask for your bank details or an administration fee to be paid before issuing a refund. We would never contact you to say that if you didn’t call back about money you owed, the police would be involved, and a warrant put out for your arrest. Please note that banks will never ask you for your full PIN or password, or request you move money from your accounts.

Please make any elderly or vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours aware of scams and follow advice from Public Health England on protecting yourself against coronavirus.

Tips for dealing with scams

Here are some tips from the GOV.UK website to help avoid falling victim to internet scams and phishing.

  • Inform the police if you believe that anyone is impersonating staff from your local council or the valuation office.
  • Never give your bank details over the phone if you are not sure who you are dealing with
  • Never click on any links, download attachments or reply to text messages if you are not sure they are genuine
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