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How can you protect yourself from scammers during Covid-19 crisis?

People are being warned about fake texts which are being sent offering financial support during the Covid-19 crisis Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

People are being warned about fake texts which are being sent offering financial support during the Covid-19 crisis Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS

Archant

Opportunistic fraudsters are continuing to use the coronavirus crisis as a way to scam people, it has been warned.

Suffolk police is reminding people to stay alert during the Covid-19 outbreak as criminals look to exploit the crisis both in person and online.

The force says there is a small minority of people who see the current virus situation as an opportunity to commit crimes across the county.

Both police and trading standards have received reports of fake emails and texts as well as cold callers offering help in person.

Two weeks ago, this newspaper reported how scammers – pretending to be from the British Red Cross – were knocking on doors of elderly people, taking money to do their shopping and then not returning.

Chief Superintendent Marina Ericson, county policing commander, said she is urging people to take a moment to think before parting with any money or personal details.

“Just take a few moments to think – has the approach come from a cold call, or unexpected text or email? Could it be fake? Do you know or trust the person it’s come from?” she said.

“It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. Take your time to discuss what is being asked of you with friends or family.

“Remember, the police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.”

What other scams have been reported during the crisis?

‘British Red Cross’ cold callers scam

Fake NHS cold callers scam

Department for Education fake free school meals texts

HMRC/Financial scams

Suffolk Trading Standards has also warned of text messages purporting to be from the government offering hundreds of pounds in financial support with a bogus link to click on.

The ‘urgent’ texts typically say: “UKGOV has issued a payment of 558 GBP to all residents as part of its promise to tackle Covid-19.”

The text then advises people to click on a link to apply for their ‘financial support’.

Similar texts have accused people of leaving their homes multiple times before ordering them to pay a fine into a government account. Again, there is a link to click on.

Anyone who thinks they’ve been a victim of a scam can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via the organisation’s website here.

Suffolk Trading Standards can be contacted on 0808 223 1133.

What is the advice from the authorities?

• Only accept help from people you know and / or trust. Never deal with unexpected cold callers

• You do not have to agree to anything you don’t feel comfortable with

• Police, health workers and others will not and do not call at your house to test for coronavirus or ask for money regarding investigations

• Check the person calling at your door has valid identification, even if they are dressed in uniform

• Do not transfer any money across to someone who calls you over the phone, banks will not ask for your personal security details

• Do not trust anyone asking for money transfers or cash over the phone

• Do not make shopping purchases from a company or person you do not know and trust. Use a credit card to pay to protect yourselves.

Further advice can be found on the Suffolk Constabulary website


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