Beware of coronavirus scams

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

Please be aware of the following Coronavirus related scams that are in circulation:

  • Bogus calls from individuals claiming to be with the NHS test and trace service, advising that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and need to self-isolate and take a test, which is subject to a high one-off processing fee. There is no fee for NHS testing.
  • Fake texts or emails posing as NHS test and trace asking you to click on links to non-NHS or government websites. These sites are designed to steal your personal information or hack into your computer or phone.
  • Reports of bogus callers offering to help businesses apply for government grants for a 10% fee. There is no fee and applicants should deal directly with the council.
  • Fake hand sanitiser being sold door to door and online.
  • Fake COVID–19 testing kits being sold door to door and online.
  • Strangers offering to do shopping errands and failing to return when money to pay has been given upfront.
  • People calling at your door claiming to be able to test you for the virus. Please note that virus testing kits are only offered by the NHS and there are no vaccines or cures at this time.
  • People calling at your door offering to disinfect your driveway or house.
  • Potentially unsafe Coronavirus health pack and nebulisers offered for sale door to door and online.
  • Personal protection equipment being offered for sale door to door and online including masks with suggested Coronavirus stopping capabilities.
  • Unsafe vitamins and other medicine with suggested Coronavirus protection benefits / cure being offered for sale door to door and online.
  • Receiving messages by text or email stating that you have been fined £30 to £60 for being out of your home more than once a day. Weblinks on these messages connect to websites that steal your personal information or hack into your computer or phone.
  • 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.
  • Fake emails posing as the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention claiming to be able to provide you with a list of coronavirus infected people in your 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.
  • Reports of email messages being received with instructions of how to obtain free school meal vouchers. These messages are fake and designed to obtain your bank details or hack your computer.

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus outbreak please visit the government website for details of help available.

For further advice or to report a scam please contact The Citizens Advice Consumer Service online or call their free phone line 0808 223 1133.

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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