Coronavirus scams and misinformation
Coronavirus related scams
Unfortunately, during times like these, people use this opportunity to take advantage of the vulnerable. Friends Against Scams have produced some useful advice to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of these scams.
Be aware of people offering or selling:
- Virus testing kits - these are only offered by the NHS.
- Vaccines or miracle cures - there is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
- Overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself from coronavirus such as antibacterial products.
- Shopping or medication collection services.
- Home cleaning services.
Protect yourself and others:
- Don't be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
- Don't assume everyone is genuine. It's okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.
For further information, please visit the Friends Against Scams website.
Some people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine. Doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill. In other cases, callers are offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details.
The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to the public over 80 years old.
The NHS will NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and NEVER ask for payment or for your bank details.
If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to Sussex Police online or by calling 101.
Scam advice for businesses
The National Trading Standards Scams team have launched Businesses Against Scams. The initiative includes a free online training tool to protect businesses, employees and customers from costly scams and is detailed below.
Business Against Scams will sit alongside the Which? Scam free alert service and the online scams reporting tool that the National Trading Standards eCrime team has been developing with Citizen's Advice.
Through these alerts Which? will warn consumers about the latest fraud attempts, and give advice about how they can protect themselves. This is especially pertinent as criminals continue to exploit the coronavirus outbreak by unleashing a new range of scams.
Available to everyone, those signing up will receive warnings about the latest scams as Which? uncovers them, along with information about how to spot a scam and protect themselves against falling victim to fraudsters.
You can sign up for the free service on Which?'s website.
Misinformation on social media
Although social media is being used as a valuable tool throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, a large amount of misinformation is also being spread across social media. Make sure you get any information from reliable sources.
Some reliable sources for Coronavirus information include:
Hastings Borough Council
Public Health England
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Coronavirus scams and misinformation