In neighbourhoods up and down the UK many people are pulling together and demonstrating a real sense of community, and that’s something we should all be incredibly proud of. Unfortunately, there are still those who try to trick people, and prey on the unease, uncertainty and anxiety that many of us are understandably feeling at this time. Many of these scams are not new, but we may be more likely to fall victim to them given these uncertain times. With more time spent at home, scammers and fraudsters also have more chance to contact us – either on our doorstep, by phone, or online.
Remember to always follow Government advice. https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Use local council websites, local council services and trusted charities like Age UK.
Be wary of any emails saying they are from official sources which ask for money. Scammers are getting in touch with people, and claiming to be from health organisations such as the Centre for Disease Control, World Health Organisation or public health bodies. Do not respond to these emails or do as they request. Remember Any requests for payment are a sign that this is a scam. They might claim to have a list of people in the local area who are infected, at a cost. Public bodies such as this would never ask for money for information. Any information they make available to the public is free of charge.
- Be as careful as you would normally be… don’t be side-tracked or rush into decisions.
- Don’t purchase items from your doorstep or respond to surveys.
- Don’t give bank details, cash, credit or debit card information to strangers to do shopping etc.
- Never follow a link in an unexpected email, text or social media post. Check the website is a genuine address by looking at the spelling in the URL.
- Be very wary of any item price that simply looks too good to be true or if they claim to have high levels of stock when everywhere else is sold out. If you’ve seen a picture of something, it doesn’t always mean the item exists.
- Do extra research on companies and sellers, especially when you’re buying for the first time. Try a number of different product or service review websites to gauge opinion on their quality, and avoid those with poor ratings.
- Don’t buy cures and medicines online, or soaps and sanitisers from unknown sources. Buy all products from known sources.
- Use a computer, laptop or smartphone that’s protected with up-to-date security software. Always use secure ways to pay such as your credit card or PayPal, and only enter your card details on secure sites.
- Don’t pay via a funds transfer from your bank account, and especially not to someone or a company you’ve never met or heard of.
- Trust and seek help from family and friends.
- Use a credit card- if you do decide to purchase a product online, use a credit card as most credit cards provide protection under section 75 of the consumer credit act.
Support is available... You aren’t alone!
Whilst you are self-isolating and want help or support with shopping, picking up a prescription, or just want a chat to beat the boredom, it is recommend you seek help in this order:
- FIRST: From Friends and Family, or local community groups you are part of. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family who are under 70 and do not have health conditions to do your grocery shopping or pick up medicines for you. They will not get in trouble for leaving their house to get those things for you, but make sure you keep your distance from them when they deliver to you.
- SECOND: From Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services
- THIRD: From new local community volunteer groups who offer support
- FOURTH: From the Essex Welfare Service
Anyone can find themselves the victim of fraud. If you suspect you may have been scammed or involved in fraudulent activity, or have information about a possible fraudster, you can contact the Police: https://www.essex.police.uk/ro/report/fo/fraud/
If you’d prefer not to speak to the police or would like more specific advice, the charities, groups and organisations below can also provide information and support.
- Action Fraud: Members for the public - 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm) / Businesses, charity or other organisations suffering a live cyber-attack - 0300 123 2040(Available 24/7)
- Action on Elder Abuse: AEA are a national charity working to protect and prevent the abuse of vulnerable older adults. 0808 808 8141
- Alzheimer's Society: A national charity providing advice and support for people affected by dementia. 0300 222 1122
- Age UK: Provides companionship, advice and support for millions of older adults. 0800 169 6565
- Citizens AdviceExternal Link: Free, independent and confidential advice to help you solve legal, money and other problems. 0345 404 0506
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): Find and choose a financial adviser, or confirm whether your adviser is authorised. 0845 606 1234
- Royal Mail Scam Mail Helpline: Support and advice if you’ve received items by post that you believe to be fraudulent. 0800 011 3466
- The Mailing Preference Service (MPS): A free service supported by Royal Mail enabling UK customers to remove their name and home address from mailing lists used by the industry. 020 7291 3300
- The Silver Line: Free, 24-hour, confidential helpline providing friendship, information and advice to older people.0800 470 8090
- The Telephone Preference Service (TPS): Free service for recording your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. 0800 398 893
- Victim Support: Free confidential Support line on 0808 16 89 111
SHARE Checklist- Be careful what you share. Things aren’t always what they seem online.
Just because a story appears online, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily true. The internet is great, but it can also be used to spread misleading news and content. Protect yourself and your friends from false information about coronavirus.
When shared, false information can take on a life of its own and have some serious consequences. It can lead to health scares, false accusations and potentially damaging hoax stories. Recently there has been a lot of this kind of false information about coronavirus. It’s not always easy to spot, so use the SHARE checklist to make sure you're not contributing to the spread of harmful content.
- Source: Rely on official sources for medical and safety information. Check the facts about coronavirus on the NHS website and GOV.UK.
- Headline: Headlines don’t always tell the full story. Always read to the end before you share articles about coronavirus.
- Analyse: Analyse the facts. If something sounds unbelievable, it very well might be. Independent fact-checking services are correcting false information about coronavirus every day.
- Retouched: Watch out for misleading pictures and videos in stories about coronavirus. They might be edited, or show an unrelated place or event. Check to see who else is using the photo.
- Error: Look out for mistakes. Typos and other errors might mean the information is false. Official guidance about coronavirus will always have been carefully checked.