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Scam awareness

Published on 26 March 2020 04:19 PM

During this uncertain time, we are seeing and hearing about exceptional acts of kindness towards the most vulnerable people in society. While families, neighbours and community groups are trying to help those who are stuck at home, some people are exploiting the situation.

There have been some reports of scams circulating in response to Covid19. So far in the Avon and Somerset area, police are not aware of any victims and have not received any complaints or reports of people being tricked by fraudsters. The police are keen to keep this trend going and have offered some advice in regards to spotting a scam.

Manager of the Avon and Somerset Police Complex Crime Unit, Dr Kirstie Cogram said: “The majority of scams we are seeing relate to the online sale of protective items, and items that are in short supply across the country, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  We’re advising people not to panic and to think about the purchase they are making. When you’re online shopping it’s important to do your research and look at reviews of the site you are buying from.

“We have already seen fraudsters using the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.

 “These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or appeals for you to support those who are ill. There are also bogus charities.

“The advice is simple – think very carefully before you hand over your money, and don’t give out your personal details unless you are sure who you are dealing with. Where possible – especially if buying goods – do some background research and look for reviews on the site where you intend buying from.”

Top tips for you and your loved ones to be aware of are:

  • Watch out for scam messages – don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to unsolicited messages and telephone calls that ask for your personal or financial details. Apply caution if receiving cold calls, stay safe on-line and do not click on any links that you don’t know are from a tested source.
  • Shopping online – if you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
  • Don’t be duped by organisations offering to arrange to collect money from your home to pay for goods.
  • Don’t buy goods from the doorstep
  • Protect your devices from the latest threats – always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.

If you have any concerns around scams and would like to talk to someone over the phone about it, please call Age UK Bristol on 0117 929 7537 and leave a message. Someone will return your call.

One of our Trustees, Ash Jones, has created the below videos on scams relating to coronavirus.

Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.

OFFICAL UPDATE RE. GOV.UK TEXT MESSAGES

Please see the official government response to messages such as the one shown below:

“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 click on the links or attachments, and don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial details.”

If you receive any such messages, report them to Action Fraud - www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing