Press Release from Citizens Advice - Heartless scammers target residents during coronavirus lockdown
Citizens Advice West Berkshire (CAWB) and the Public Protection Partnership, Trading Standards Service (PPP) are working together during Scams Awareness Fortnight (15 - 28 June) to warn residents to be on their guard against scams during the coronavirus lockdown. They are on hand to help people spot a scam and to give advice on how to report it. To find out more about the campaign and how you can support it, see https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sa20/
New Citizens Advice research finds that more than four in ten people (42%) in the South East of England have been the target of a scam since lockdown came into effect across the country. Almost seven out of ten people (69%) are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And an overwhelming majority (91%) of people reported they felt wary of coronavirus scams.
Our data shows that scammers have been exploiting these circumstances, with scams including:
- adverts of face masks or medical equipment at high prices
- emails or texts pretending to be from the government
- emails offering life insurance against coronavirus
- people knocking at your door and asking for money for fake charities.
Citizens Advice West Berkshire and Trading Standards, Public Protection Partnership are encouraging people to talk about their experiences and look out for others they think could be at risk.
Lynn Collie, Research and Campaigns Coordinator at Citizens Advice West Berkshire said:
“Our data shows that the last few months have been very difficult for a lot of people across West Berkshire. And despite this, we’ve seen appalling evidence of opportunistic scammers taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns. We’ve even had reports of scammers cold calling residents pretending to be from Citizens Advice.”
Malcolm Philips, Fraud Victim Support Officer at the Public Protection Partnership said:
“It’s really important we all do our bit and report anything that looks like a con when we see it. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.“
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice West Berkshire and Trading Standards Public Protection Partnership are sharing the following tips on how to spot them.
If you’re worried you, or someone you know, could be getting scammed take the following steps:
- Look into installing a call blocker to help combat telephone scams
- Talk to your or their bank immediately if there is any suspicious activity or transactions from their account or credit cards
- Report the scam to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards
- Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
You can also take the following steps to safeguard yourself and others:
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call