Safer 6 - Residents warned against Covid-19 scams

Published 29th September 2020

Sandwell Council is urging residents to remain vigilant of fraudsters who are exploiting fears about COVID-19.

Scammers are preying on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends.

As part of the Safer Sandwell Partnership campaign, the Council’s Trading Standards team are taking part in Safer 6: Exploitation Awareness Week (28 September - 4 October) and are warning of the following coronavirus-related scams.

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.

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.

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.

Councillor Farut Shaeen, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for living healthy lives, said: “It is hard to believe that some people will look to take advantage of the situation our country is facing, but unfortunately this is a reality.

“Where possible, Trading Standards will pursue and tackle these despicable individuals, but preventing people becoming victims in the first place is key."

Sandwell Council Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “Scams come in many different guises so, before taking any action or agreeing to an offer: Stop, ‘take five’, and discuss with a trusted friend or family member.”

“Be a good friend; help protect your family, friends and neighbours from scams.”

Useful contacts:

Report suspected scams to Action Fraud at the Action Fraud website or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Check if something is a scam at the Citizens Advice website and search ‘scams’.

Free online training to help prevent becoming a victim at the Friends Against Scams website.

Contact our trading standards team by calling 03454 04 05 06 or go online to the Sandwell Council trading standards webpage