26 March 2020
Trading Standards are warning people to be aware of scams

Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards service is reminding residents to be aware of scams during the coronavirus outbreak.

Their advice comes as the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team has identified a list of possible scams to be wary of:

  • People should be aware of offers of miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until the person recovers.
  • Home cleaning services.
  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
  • Emails saying that people can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after personal and bank details.
  • There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect people or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take people’s money.
  • There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give updates on the virus but instead, they lock the phone and demand a ransom.
  • Banks or the police will never ask for bank details over the phone.
  • People offering to do shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

In Northamptonshire trading standards are also aware of an email scam asking parents to supply bank details if their child is usually entitled to free school meals. This is not an official email and should be ignored and deleted.

Councillor Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for place and environment said: “We’ve seen an incredible response from local communities with things such as Facebook community groups and WhatsApp groups springing up to help vulnerable people.

“This has been wonderful to see, but sadly not everyone out there is trustworthy and some people will take advantage of the difficult situation we are all facing.

“The scams identified by the National Trading Standards scams team are just some of the scams to be aware of, but remember that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online.

“The council is also co-ordinating a local effort along with other councils and partner organisations for people to help their community. To find out more go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/coronavirus”.

Anyone who thinks that they have been scammed should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or if they need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If people are in immediate danger, please contact the police on 999. People can also contact their bank if they think they have been scammed.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
  • Take your time; don’t be rushed.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to force you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.
  • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, please visit the Friends Against Scams website and complete the free online training.

The council’s website is being regularly updated with the latest information including health advice and guidance, changes to council services and events, support available for businesses and educational settings plus details about how to volunteer to help.