COVID-19 Frauds and scams

COVID-19 related fraud and scams are a serious threat to residents and businesses located within Sandwell. The pandemic has caused fear, confusion and uncertainty during which time fraudsters and cybercriminals have looked to exploit the situation wherever possible. 

How to avoid scams

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud. Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online or by calling 0300 123 2040. To report suspicious offers of financial assistance from HMRC contact phishing@hmrc.gov.uk. You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.

The Council is doing all it can to support and assist the vulnerable and those people self-isolating. During this time we may make contact with you. If we do, we will be identifiable and will never ask for money or for you to provide bank details via telephone or email.

Types of Scams

The methods and techniques fraudsters use will continue to change and could be carried out by email, telephone or by someone at your door. Some of the scams currently being used are: 

  • Individuals offering to do shopping and buy medicine for those self-isolating, only to not return with goods or the bank card.
  • Text messages claiming to be from GOV.UK requesting payment of ‘fines’ for breaching stay at home regulations. 
  • Fraudulent messages to parents entitled to free school meals requesting bank details.
  • Fake text messages from HMRC offering a tax rebate or other financial support. 
  • Offering fake medical support, including tests for COVID-19 and selling medication to prevent or cure Coronavirus. 
  • Emails posing as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Offers of safety and personal protective equipment, only to not provide goods paid for, or providing substandard or unsafe equipment.

How to Protect yourself and your friends and family

Scams are not always easy to identify. Here are some tips to protect you and your loved ones. 

  • Be suspicious of any offer which is too good to be true. 
  • Never feel pressured into handing any over money, especially before receiving goods or services. 
  • Do not click on links or attachments in suspicious texts or emails. Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal, or financial details.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from those who you do not know.
  • Never give your bank card or pin number to a stranger. 
  • Do not be afraid to check with family and friends before accepting offers of help and support. Anyone genuine will be happy to wait for your response.
  • Always ask for identification from those who arrive without warning. If in doubt call the organisation directly to verify who the person is.
  • Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly. 
  • Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats. For more information see the National Cyber Security Centre website for information on how to ensure your devices are as secure as possible.
  • If in doubt, do not be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or close the door!

With fake news articles on the internet and in the press promoting remedies, cures and false advice around coronavirus, it is also important to only share articles from trustworthy sources. If you are in any doubt, then visit the gov.uk website or the World Health Organisation website for updates and information.

For further information about Fraud and the latest Scam alerts see:
Take Five to Stop Fraud
National Crime Agency 
Scam Smart