Virus lockdown has seen an estimated 40% increase in reported doorstep, phone and email scams across Buckinghamshire.
Trading Standards say their priority is to protect residents from potential text, email and phone frauds based on the new NHS Test & Trace system.
They warn people to be wary of ‘phishing’ texts and emails, to ‘think before you click’ on a link in a text or email suggesting, for example, that someone testing positive to Covid-19 had come into contact with them and recommending a click-link for more help.
Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, said: ‘The important thing to remember is to always be alert.’
He said although alerts from the NHS Test & Trace service could come by text, email or phone call, there was clear Government guidance as to how it works and there was no need to give financial information as it is a free service.
Classic examples so far have ranged from emails and texts claiming you are due a refund from your TV licence, council tax or income tax, using Covid-19 as bait and providing a dodgy link, to fake texts purporting to be from the government promising a ‘relief’ payout and providing a fake link.
Other scams have involved shopping orders: facemasks that never arrive, hand sanitiser that isn’t, even fake NHS lanyards for sale.
Criminals can spoof texts, making messages appear in a chain of texts alongside previous genuine messages, making them look so plausible.
So as the Test & Trace scheme rolls out, the warning is to be alert. Residents should forward suspicious-looking emails to the National Cyber Security Centre at [email protected]
As lockdown scams continue, Trading Standards’ advice to residents is:
- Be sceptical, don’t be afraid to delete the email/text or put the phone down.
- Take your time, don’t be rushed.
- Know who you’re dealing with: if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with Trading Standards advice line on 0300 123 2329
- Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know.
- Never engage with someone or allow them access unless you are able to verify their authenticity and who they are.
Residents who are being subjected to nuisance calls, can request a Truecall phone blocker from Trading Standards by emailing [email protected]