Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is reiterating the warnings being given by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards and Milton Keynes Council about COVID-19 related scams.
According to the Trading Standards team, the number of COVID-19 related scam reports increased by 400 per cent in March.
We are urging members of the public to be wary of people offering or selling the following:
- Virus testing kits – these are only offered by the NHS
- Products that claim to protect you from or cure coronavirus – there is currently no vaccine or cure
- Shopping services that take your money upfront – while there are groups of volunteers who are offering to do shopping for those who are self-isolating, they are a small number of people who may collect this money and not return
- Home cleaning services – the council do not need to enter your house to deep clean the property
Be wary of emails, texts, telephone calls and messages via social media that offer refunds on taxes or bills and ask for your bank details. Remember that your bank will never ask for your bank details over the phone or over email.
There have also been recent reports of mobile phone apps which claim to provide updates on the virus but can instead lock your device and demand a ransom for access. Stick to trusted sources such as Gov.uk and NHS.uk, as well as trusted news websites, for updates.
Top tips to avoid becoming the victim of a scam:
- Be sceptical – don’t be afraid to hang up or shut the door if something doesn’t feel right
- Take your time – don’t feel rushed or pressurised into making a decision
- Check with your family or friends if you’re unsure whether something is genuine
- Only make purchases from trusted retailers
- Protect your financial information – don’t give your bank card or PIN number to a stranger and remember that the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone
We would also encourage residents to look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours and ensure that they do not fall victim to these scams.
If you are worried that something may be a scam or require further advise, you can contact:
- Buckinghamshire Council area: 01296 388788 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Milton Keynes Council area: 0808 2231133 or email@example.com
To report a scam that has already happened, contact Action Fraud through its online reporting system.
If a scam is in progress or the suspects are still at the scene, report to Thames Valley Police.