Coronavirus scams - don't get caught out

It seems that COVID-19 has brought out the best in people, but there are still criminals who want to take advantage of us all. Here are some examples to look out for.

Some of the scams that are doing the rounds are incredibly sneaky and definitely illegal.

They focus on those who may have lost self-employed income, have family on free school lunches and some even try to sell us fake vaccines.

Here are some examples for us all to watch out for and how you can arm yourself against scams.

Bogus government notices

  • Scammers pretending to be from the UK government, advising that a new tax refund programme has been introduced to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and that you are due a refund.
  • Emails pretending to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO) with attachments on how to stay safe - the attachments contain malware which will infect your computer, steal your information and request a ransom.

Fake businesses and charities

  • Fake charities asking for donations to help with the coronavirus.
  • Companies phoning to offer to clean and sanitise homes, pre-payment is required over the phone or with gift cards.
  • Scammers offering fake investment opportunities in companies working to produce a vaccine.

False health information and products

  • Doorstep callers 'checking for coronavirus'.
  • Scammers have also emailed out fake maps, which claim to show how the virus outbreaks, but, again, they are malware.
  • Companies claiming to have or to be on the verge of producing a vaccine and requiring payment to reserve a batch.
  • Companies selling 'fast COVID-19 tests'.
  • Companies selling products that they claim can treat, cure or prevent the virus including face masks.
  • Companies selling fake cleaning products and hand sanitisers.

Remember

At the moment, there is no vaccine or cure. The only test available is through the NHS - you cannot buy a test kit or pay for a test from anybody else. 

You can find more information about testing and eligibility on the government website.
Apply for a coronavirus test

What you can do

  • Only buy from companies that you have dealt with before and type in their online address if you want to order.
  • Don't respond to a link in an email or find them by an internet search because scam sites may be imitating as a genuine company.
  • Charities must be registered with the Charity Commission - check they are legitimate before you donate.

National Trading Standards is a great source of information. 

Friends Against Scams is their free online training course, which you can complete in just 20 minutes.

Empower yourself and your neighbours to take a stand against scams. To complete the online modules, visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.

 


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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