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
- 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
- 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.