As England enters another national lockdown, Trading Standards officers at North East Lincolnshire Council are warning people to be scam aware.
There have been various COVID-related scams circulating across the country since the pandemic began.
Criminals have been exploiting fears about the pandemic to prey on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends.
Any number of frauds could increase as more people are told to work from home and vulnerable people have been advised to self-isolate again.
Most recently, there have been reports of a new scam where a person receives a text saying they need to book a vaccination appointment. This takes them to a fake NHS form which then asks for their bank details to prove their identity.
Previously, fraudsters have targeted people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and scamming people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.
There has also been a Test and Trace scam circulating across the country asking people to pay for a COVID-19 test. These tests are free and the NHS will never ask for card details.
People are also being warned to remain vigilant to fraudsters posing as contact tracers as the local COVID contact tracing team launched at the end of last year.
Council contact tracers will have official council identification which they will produce. They will never ask for money, financial information, or ask you to click on a link in an email or text.
A real contact tracer will give you information about what you will need to do if you have been identified as a close contact if the NHS contact tracing team cannot get in touch with you. If you are in doubt, say no and contact the council.
The top four SMS scams:
- Fake URL links claiming to link to GOV.UK website to claim supposed COVID-19-related payment
- Lockdown fines suggesting you have breached lockdown
- Offers of health supplements that will prevent you becoming infected
- Financial support offers that appear to be from your bank
Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “Fraudsters use a variety of techniques for parting innocent victims with their money.
“It is appalling that criminals are exploiting people in what is already an extremely difficult time, so please be on your guard and don’t get caught out.
“Never let yourself be pressurised into doing something you are suspicious of and seek advice.
“People should not take any deal offered over the phone and should instead contact their customer services to confirm if the offer is genuine – whether this is a general scam or COVID-related.
“Don’t do business on your doorstep and never agree to have work done when you’re cold called. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
“If a job needs doing, get at least three quotes from different tradespeople and take your time to make an informed decision. Always use a reputable company that people you know and trust have recommended.
“Please look out for your elderly and vulnerable friends, family and neighbours to make sure they aren’t caught out by a scam and report any sightings of suspected rogue traders in the area.”
For advice or to report a scam, contact Citizens’ Advice on 0800 144 8848.