COVID-19 Scams, Advice and Guidance
COVID-19 continues to see an unprecedented rise in scams and these are being widely reported.
Most scams are online, distributed by text or email and are being sent to the general public and business alike. Covid-19 scams mostly relate to bogus offers which are designed to gain personal information from victims, such as passwords or financial information.
Examples include ZOOM meetings, where an email suggests a problem and directs you to a cloned website, looking just the same as the real website, and asks for your password. Similarly, with PayPal, you are notified by email of a failed payment, taken to a cloned website and asked to provide login details which when entered go straight to the scammer to use.
Other examples since the outset of the crisis include council tax refund scams, Fixed Penalty Fines for those who have been out of their homes, HMRC rebates, business grant payments, Netflix subscription updates and competitively priced PPE offers, such as facemasks, which never arrive.
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a message always go to the website of the relevant provider to ensure the information and links are genuine. In the case of official coronavirus information our advice is to independently engage with the UK and the Scottish Government's websites and follow the guidance given:
Doorstep crime examples include offers to disinfect parts of the property with no disinfectant used and in most cases isn’t actually required, or waste disposal, where the waste is fly tipped, causing a mess in the community and placing increased burdens on already stretched waste services to clear up at the expense of the public purse.Lots of people are offering to help and support those in their communities who are staying at home. Although the majority of people offering help are genuine, there may be some who try to take advantage of this situation for their own gains.
Advice has been provided by the charity Age Scotland which may be of wider benefit. This includes not giving out your bank card or pin number or paying money up front.
Safety advice has also been issued by the financial services industry fraud awareness body CIFAS including:
- Be sceptical if you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message about the Coronavirus, and never click on any attachments or links.
- Never provide personal data such as your full name, address and date of birth – scammers can use this information to steal your identity.
- Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into donating money, and never make donations by cash or gift card, or send money through transfer agents such as Western Union or MoneyGram.
- If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, then speak to your bank immediately and report any fraud to Police Scotland on 101.
Advice on how to protect users from coronavirus online exploitation attempts has been issued by the National Cyber Security Centre.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has issued various warnings on behalf of the profession.
Citizens Advice Scotland have a developed a general scam checking tool.
Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) has issued a number of alerts in relation to coronavirus scams.
Please remember, if something appears too good to be true, it’s a scam, do not engage.