There is an increased risk of people falling victim to scams during the Coronavirus outbreak. The isolation and anxiety experienced by many older and vulnerable people at this time is being exploited by scammers. As a result a new wave of Covid-19 related scams have emerged that use the pandemic as a way of gaining people’s interest and trust.
Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online.
- Virus testing kits
- Vaccines or miracle cures – there is currently no vaccine or cure
- Overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself from coronavirus such as anti-bacterial products
- Shopping or medication collection services
- Home decontamination services
- Covid-19 track and trace
Tips to avoid being scammed
- Don’t be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Only purchase goods and services from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information
- Don’t assume everyone is genuine. It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. If in doubt, speak to someone you trust
- If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure
The Scams Unit support elderly and vulnerable people who have been targeted by scammers or who have been a victim of this form of financial abuse. Our services focus on raising an individual’s awareness of scams to help prevent financial loss. Whilst we would ordinarily visit people in their homes, we are currently contacting individuals via the telephone, sending out information packs and still making referrals to appropriate teams and organisations to ensure residents of the borough receive the support they need at a time they may be more vulnerable to scams.
- If you think you or someone you care about has been scammed, report it to the Scams Unit on 01384 81887 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Social networking sites such as Facebook Community Groups, WhatsApp Groups and the Nextdoor that send neighbourhood alerts can be great ways of staying in touch with those around you, however it can be difficult to know who to trust. These are all online and not everyone has access to the internet, so we have added some useful numbers below if you or anyone you know requires assistance.
- Pleased to meet you – 01384 812761 - an initiative that helps older people stay positive in later life and provides a helping hand to anyone feeling lonely to get out about and enjoy life. The team are also currently supporting residents with their shopping and medication needs
- Bogus Caller Hotline - 01384 812045 – a scheme enabling residents to report uninvited callers who attempt to sell goods or services to you at your door
- Living Well Feeling Safe - 01384 817743 - a team who support vulnerable and older people to stay safe, healthy and independent in their homes