Scam Awareness

Scam Awareness

Sadly, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak there has been an upsurge in people trying to take advantage of the normal worries that we all feel at this time.

Scams on the rise

Surrey Police are asking residents to be extra vigilent to fraud, or attempted fraud, relating to Covid-19.

Many of these new scams are around shopping, where people have paid online for products like hand sanitiser and masks which then never arrive. But there are also a lot of phishing emails out there.

Phishing emails ask an individual to click a link or open a malicious attachment which can lead to fraudsters stealing personal information including logins, passwords and banking information. The advice is to think very carefully before any online transaction, if you’re not sure ask a friend or family member to have a look for you. And don’t give out any personal details unless you are 100% sure you know who you are dealing with.

Track and trace scams

The government is looking into developing a ‘track and trace’ system, allowing people to log information on their phones, and be alerted when someone they know is diagnosed with COVID. However, fraudsters have also jumped on this, and people are being scammed into disclosing private information to them. Please click on this government page to see how test and trace should work.

Getting the facts on Coronavirus

Also remember there’s a lot of nonsense being written about Coronavirus too. This Surrey County Council page lists all the sources of trusted facts, like Public Health England. It also tells you how to sign up to alerts from the government, including on ‘myth-busting’.

For children seeking trusted information, Newsround is a good source.

Common Coronavirus scams

Aside from the phishing and online scams, you should also be aware of anyone offering or selling:

  • virus testing kits – these are currently only available through the NHS
  • vaccines or miracle cures – sadly these aren’t available yet
  • overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself (masks etc)
  • home cleaning services, sadly there have been examples of burglars gaining entry to properties this way

It’s important to also be wary of shopping and medication collection services, make sure you are comfortable that the person/people offering help are genuine, if you’re not sure you can always check with Surrey County Councils Community Helpline (0300 200 1008).

Be careful if you’re paying someone else  to do your shopping. Which have tips on safe ways to look after the money, and see our shopping page for details of volunteer cards and ways to shop.

Other scams around at the moment

Sky TV

People have reported being called by Sky TV saying they will be receiving a bill reduction as they have been identified as vulnerable. They are then asked for their bank details to process the refund, if they refuse they are given a number to call to check. This is a scam – do NOT pass on bank details or phone the number, simply hang up.

Rogue food parcel enquiries to the vulnerable

People have reported being called by a company asking if they have received a letter about food parcels. If they have they are asked for further information about their situation including financial details. They are given a number to call beginning with 0333 which leads to a voicemail for a company called Social Shielding. This is a scam – do NOT give out details about you or the person you look after.

Protect yourself!

  • Don’t click on links and attachments in suspicious emails
  • Never respond to unsolicited calls or messages that ask for personal details
  • Don’t be rushed into making a purchase decision – it’s okay to refuse or ignore requests
  • Check website links for strange typos, added numbers or things that don’t look right
  • If you’re not sure, ask a friend or family member for advice before completing your purchase
  • Remember that most major credit card providers insure online purchases so it can be a good idea to use one when shopping online
  • Think about how things have been shared, social media posts and WhatsApp chains can be written and doctored by anyone
  • If someone claims to be from a charity, ask for ID

More information

For more information visit trusted sources like the ones below.

Action Fraud Logo

Action Fraud

Lots more information here and you can also report a crime.

Friends Againts Scams logo

Friends Against Scams

You can also visit Friends Against Scams for more practical tips and to be connected with a Scam Champion.

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