It is important to remain vigilant and protect yourself against criminal activity - particularly as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Heartless criminals have been taking advantage of the crisis, but the good news is that help is at hand. Working together we can slam the door - and pull the plug - on crooks.
Here are just some of the common scams we are aware of. Please note - criminals come in all shapes and sizes, and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online.
Be aware of scams involving the likes of:
- Virus testing kits
- Fake PPE
- 'Vaccines' or counterfeit medicines
- Bogus tracing apps, some of which ask for personal or banking details
- Copycat websites offering DWP / HMRC refunds and pay-outs
- Scam e-mails on Council Tax 'reductions'
- Overpriced or fake goods to 'protect' against coronavirus, such as hand sanitisers
- Phoney 'fines' for breaching lockdown
- Fake questionnaires and quizzes designed to extract personal info
- Shopping or medication collection services
- Home cleaning services.
These are just examples of potential scams. For the latest information, visit www.tradingstandards.uk/news-policy/news-room
Trading Standards Scotland produce a regularly Scam Share update. You can access past issues and subscribe by visiting https://mailchi.mp/85359b0facb8/scam-share
The Trading Standards team and Police Scotland are urging local residents to register for East Dunbartonshire Community Alerts. The system, run by Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, allows people to keep up to date with the latest local news - including reports of doorstep crime, scams, burglaries and more.
Alerts are sent out by e-mail and/or by text. To sign up, complete the online form by visiting www.neighbourhoodwatchscotland.co.uk/sign-up-for-alerts
Even during a pandemic, doorstep crime is continuing - particularly in relation to gardening, tree cutting and general maintenance. Please be on your guard.
Trading Standards advice, as always, is to be wary of people coming to your door offering goods and services.
Remember - most places of business are closed or restricted in the work they can undertake in order to maintain social distancing so a person coming to your door seeking business may well be putting you at risk by breaking the laws on social distancing. Keep them out and do not allow any work to be started.
Contact Trading Standards for advice or further information on 0300 1234510 or e-mail email@example.com
We would encourage residents to inform Trading Standards (or the Police on 101) of any suspicious doorstep activities.
Genuine retailers are working harder than ever to support consumers during this difficult time, however, unscrupulous traders may be exploiting the situation and taking advantage with unjustifiably high prices.
The Competition and Markets Authority has launched a taskforce. If you believe any local traders have hiked their prices and are seeking to profit from the crisis, please report it to us - 0300 1234510 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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 and panic you.
- If someone claims to represent a charity, ask for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressure 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.
- If you receive unsolicited text messages or e-mails which ask for personal or bank details, do not respond to these communications - they are likely to be scams.
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you have been scammed.
For further advice on scams - or if you believe you have been the subject of a scam - contact 0300 1234510 or e-mail email@example.com
Call 101 if you feel you are in immediate danger.
Friends Against Scams
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims by empowering them to take a stand.
It is designed to inspire action, highlight the scale of the problem, change the perceptions of why people fall for scams and raise awareness. Visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk
Businesses Against Scams
This a new initiative to combat fraud against businesses as more firms and employees adjust to working from home during the pandemic.
Businesses Against Scams is a cross-industry campaign, led by National Trading Standards, which provides free tools for companies to upskill and train workers to help identify and prevent scams.
Visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/BAS for information and to access resources.