Trading standards officers from Bridgend County Borough Council are urging people to remain alert for scams during the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
With fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to trick people into handing over cash, banking details and other personal information, the service has issued a warning to remain vigilant after seeing a variety of different scams in use.
Non-existent ‘miracle’ cures and protection
While research is underway, no cure for the Covid-19 coronavirus currently exists. Do not purchase any products claiming to offer specific protection – the only effective and official way to reduce the risk of exposure is to follow official Government advice, which is available free of charge.
Impersonating council officials to gain access to properties
The council will not cold-call or turn up unannounced to check on a resident’s welfare, nor will it ask to inspect a property. Our care workers are supporting vulnerable people based on agreed arrangements.
Bogus ‘home-testing’ coronavirus kits
Home-testing kits are not currently available to buy – be alert for people or websites offering to sell these as they are a scam.
Emails offering refunds on taxes, utilities etc.
One of the most common scams, this is proving to be especially popular during the outbreak. They are designed to trick a resident into handing over personal information and banking details.
Text notifications of a fine
Some scammers have been sending random texts advising people that they have to pay a fine or fixed penalty for not observing lockdown requirements, leaving the house too frequently etc. Such texts are entirely bogus – do not fall for them.
Impersonating bank personnel, police officers etc.
Another popular scam, this involves fraudsters impersonating bank employees, police officers and other officials to ask householders to confirm their banking details in order to prove their identity.
False offers of help
This involves someone contacting an elderly or vulnerable resident and asking for money upfront to do their shopping, pay a bill etc. If you need help and do not have a neighbour or family member who can support you during the outbreak, the Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations has organised an official volunteer scheme – you can find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting them on 01656 810400.
Cllr Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Well-Being and Future Generations, said: “It’s been amazing to see huge numbers of people coming forward during the coronavirus to offer help and support for others within the community, but unfortunately it is also enabling a small minority to try and take advantage of the situation by scamming and robbing people.
“Fraudsters can approach people from any direction, and may attempt to do so at the doorstep, by phone, through the post or online. Our advice is to always be alert, and to take your time when considering something. Don’t allow anyone to rush you, always make sure that you know who you are dealing with, and don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
“If you need help, talk to a trusted neighbour, friend or family member, get in touch with your local councillor, or contact our Shared Regulatory Service for more practical advice.
“Through the Shared Regulatory Service, the council is working closely alongside South Wales Police to disrupt and prevent rogue traders from taking advantage of local people, and will always investigate reports of scams and take appropriate action to help keep people safe.”