Be aware of Coronavirus scams

Wednesday March 25th 2020

Midlothian Council

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Midlothian Council and the Police are reminding residents that scammers never miss an opportunity. The message is to be on guard during the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

Across the UK there have been reports of various virus related scams. These include bogus traders selling fake masks, testing kits and ‘cures’. Some of these fraudsters have been pretending to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been scammers seeking donations for victims or impersonating healthcare workers to gain entry into people’s homes. Fraudsters have also offered to do shopping or to collect medication and asked for money upfront before disappearing.

There are even new mobile phone applications that claim to give updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom for unlocking.

The council’s Trading Standards team advise the following:

Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls

Be suspicious if you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message about the coronavirus. Never click on any attachments or links. Their purpose is to trick you into opening malicious attachments or revealing personal or financial information.

Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into donating money and never make donations by cash, gift card or through money transfer agents.

Be vigilant and on guard if someone turns up unexpectedly. Ask to see an ID card. These can be faked so if in doubt phone the company to verify their identity

If someone turns up at your door, remember, it’s your home. There’s no reason why anyone should ever enter your home against your wishes. Don’t be embarrassed to turn people away.

Never provide any personal data such as your full name, address and date of birth. Scammers can use this information to steal your identity

Don’t be pressured into making decisions. Take time to ask advice from family and friends.

For advice on scams call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 164 6000. To report a crime call the Police on 101. Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.

Some businesses have also been raising their prices unreasonably for food and certain toiletry items such as hand gels. These businesses can be reported to the Competitions Market Authority (CMA).

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