Kent County Council Trading Standards wish to advise how you can access support and safeguard yourself against scams during the coronavirus pandemic.
It can be difficult to know who to trust at this time. Please be aware that not everyone is trustworthy, and some people are taking advantage of the unusual situation we are facing.
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, by post or online.
- Door-to-door scam where a visitor claims to be from the Health Authority to test you for Covid-19. You do not have to open your door to anyone you don’t know and aren’t expecting.
- Telephone scam where someone claiming to work for the police, hospital, a bank or other service cold calls and says they are raising money or require payment for a local cause or service. Never respond to an unexpected call by giving away cash, cards, PINs, bank details or personal information – no matter how tempting or convincing the caller may seem.
- Text scam disguised as an alert from HMRC, offering a goodwill payment during the current Covid-19 situation if you click on a link and provide personal and bank details. Never click a link or give out your bank details or personal information in response to an unsolicited email or text – no matter how tempting or convincing the message may seem.
- Text scam claiming to be from Gov.uk, which says you have been recorded and fined for leaving your home during an isolation period, and asks you to click a link for more details. Never respond to unexpected emails, click on links or attachments, or provide bank details
or personal information – no matter how tempting or convincing the message may seem.
- Online shopping scam offering protective equipment including face masks, hand sanitiser and other products which never arrive. Only use reputable websites that you know and trust, make sure you see a padlock
symbol when making a purchase, and where possible use a credit card which has
insurance for online payments.
- Text and email scams claiming to be from HMRC, saying you are eligible for a tax refund. Never click a link or give out your bank details or personal information in response to an unsolicited email or text – no matter how tempting or convincing the message may seem.
- Never assume or believe a message or offer is genuine – always confirm by a contacting a trusted number or team like Never assume or believe a message or offer is genuine – always confirm by a contacting a trusted
number or team, Action Fraud, a family member, friend or your bank’s fraud department to check.
- Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
- Take your time; don’t be rushed.
- Say no to ALL doorstep sales and requests for money, even if they claim to be from a charity. If possible, stay safe and don’t even open your door.
- 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.
- Know who you’re dealing with – if you need help, talk to someone you know or report it to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
- Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to anyone.
- If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 where you can also get advice.
- If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
- Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.
Get the latest scam advice by following @KentPoliceECU or @Kent_Police on twitter.
To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk and complete the free online training.
As a reminder, we would like to re-iterate the government and NHS guidelines about maintaining good hygiene; only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, and stay two metres away from other people outside of your household.
It is particularly important for people who are over 70 and/or have an underlying health condition.
If you receive a message as shown in this photograph, IT IS A SCAM! It tells you that you have been fined and need to click on a link. This is a SCAM and please, please do not click on the link. The fraudsters are spoofing the Government address. They are after your data and financial information etc.
The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.
Criminals are able to use spoofing technology to send texts and emails impersonating organisations that you know and trust. We would remind anyone who receives an unexpected text or email asking for personal or financial details not to click on the links or attachments, and don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
A message from PS Jon Turtle of Kent Police:
It is positive that crime is down 30% overall during this lockdown period and although always sick to hear of the scams people try with vulnerable people.
Criminals do of course use unprecedented times to create exploitation opportunities for financial gain. There have been over 200 fraud schemes reported! The three most common ones are:
- Text messages advising the recipient that they have been fined £35 for not adhering to social distancing measures. Click on link where you enter your details.
- Text messages to advise the recipient that are due to tax refunds due to the Covid-19 employment furlough measures. Click here to this website…..
(Both have Gov.UK logos and therefore look official)
- Door to door rogue traders offering huge discounts during this period. Not only do they not do a job well or in fact one that is even needed but they are putting others at risk who may be self-isolating, are vulnerable to underlying health issues etc.
Advice given was to adopt the ABC approach
A – never Assume this is legitimate
B – never Believe this is genuine
C – always Confirm trusted source before taking action.
If a message/email/door knock was authentic, then individuals would not ordinarily sense any urgency required. Government schemes to help people with financial support and Local Authority fines always come with supporting documentation and appropriate timeframes with advice lines for people to discuss and seek support. Media would have often supported such measures in the news and you would be made aware which possible cohorts might benefit from schemes being offered officially. In terms of door to door, the advice is always refuse any offers during this period to keep yourself risk free not only to financial loss but also for the benefit of your health and those around you. Therefore, stop, take stock of the real likelihood that this would apply, ask the advice of family, friend, support worker, the bank before doing anything.
Finally the message was to report anything you consider suspicious – all concerns will be investigated and that as criminal adapt to circumstances so do the police – it is business as usual!