Letter from Bromley Trading Standards regarding Coronavirus Scams

We want you to know how to access support and safeguard against scams but would firstly re-iterate Government/NHS guidelines about maintaining good hygiene; only go out for food, health reasons, essential work or exercise and stay 2 metres from people outside your household – particularly important for people who are over 70 and/or have an underlying health condition.  Facebook Groups, WhatsApp Groups and Nextdoor social networks that send neighbourhood alerts are great ways of staying in touch with those around you; however, it can be difficult to know who to trust.  Please be aware not everyone out there is trustworthy and some people will take advantage of this situation.

Here are some scams we are aware of but criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, in the post or online:

  • People impersonating healthcare workers claiming to be offering ‘home- testing’, miracle cures or vaccines – there is no specific treatment for COVID-19.
  • Offers of home cleaning services to gain access to your home – don’t allow strangers into your home without checking who they are via a trusted source.
  • Offers to spray disinfectant onto driveways or around your home for cash.
  • E-mails saying you have a refund on taxes, utilities etc are usually bogus and they are after your personal and bank details.
  • Lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus.  These will not help and are designed to take your money.
  • Mobile phone apps that claim to give updates on the virus but, instead, lock your phone and demand a ransom.  Your bank or the police never ask for your bank details or PIN over the phone.
  • Offers to shop or collect medication, asking for money upfront and then vanishing.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Take your time; don’t be rushed.  Be cautious, listen to your instincts.  Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, be suspicious and don’t give them money or your bank details. Don’t let them into your home.
  • 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 carefully and don’t click on links in emails or texts.
  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know.  Never give your bank card/PIN to a stranger even if they are going shopping for you.
  • Know who you’re dealing with – if you need help, talk to someone you know and trust or contact Bromley Council on the numbers below.

Contacts:

  • If you think you’ve been scammed, report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 orwww.actionfraud.police.uk
  • If you need advice, call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 orwww.citizensadvice.org.uk and select Consumer.
  • If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999 .
  • Contact your bank if you think you’ve been scammed or given away banking details.
  • E-mail Trading Standards at trading.standards@bromley.gov.uk if you live in Bromley.  If you need help urgently (for example to report someone going door to door) contact Rapid Response on 07903 852090.
  • If you need assistance from a volunteer, you can register using our online form at:
    https://www.bromley.gov.uk/info/1113/volunteering/1410/volunteers_and_requests_for_assistance
  • If you do not have internet access, you can call the assistance line (during office hours) on: 020 8313 4484.  Please use the phone number only if you are unable to access the online form yourself or through a friend or relative.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk.

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