Updates from the council on coronavirus

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Beware of Covid-19 Scams

Sandwell Trading Standards are issuing a warning regarding rogue traders and distraction burglars. These unscrupulous people will use the coronavirus as an excuse to go knocking doors in an attempt to part you from your money. We have become aware of number of scams in relation to this. There have been people who pose as healthcare workers, using the coronavirus as an excuse to gain entry to people’s homes.

There’s also been people door knocking offering to shop for older people, then taking their money and not coming back.  

These people are opportunists and they will attempt to convince people, particularly older people, that work is desperately needed to their drive, roof, garden etc. They do unnecessary work, which is normally poor and often unfinished. They are also known for agreeing a price and then claiming that more work is needed to increase the price. They are very persuasive and often aggressive. 

We want to warn people to be extra vigilant now more than ever. People are advised not to open their door to anyone they do not know. Please keep safe. IF IN DOUBT LEAVE THEM OUT

COVID-19 scams identified include:

Doorstep crime

  • Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.
  • Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Online scams

  • Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
  • Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.

Refund scams

  • Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.

Counterfeit goods

  • Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.

Telephone scams

  • As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.

Donation scams

  • There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.

Loan sharks

  • Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence

Members of the public are being urged to keep in contact with family members regularly and inform them of the most prolific scams and the possible dangers to them. If you or someone you know has been a targeted by a scam you should report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040. For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit the Citizens Advice website

People are being encouraged to protect their neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams. To complete the online modules, visit Friends Against Scams.

National Trading Standards is also issuing urgent advice to help prevent people falling victim to COVID-19 scams through its Friends Against Scams initiative:

Coronavirus Scams

If you need shopping or help speak to a friend or family member. If you have any concerns about anyone door knocking at your home, or you see anyone behaving suspiciously please contact  Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 or West Midlands Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. 

For details of the council’s response and further advice on coronavirus, including help for people who are socially isolated, go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronavirus.