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Doorstep scammers take advantage of the Coronavirus emergency to con elderly and vulnerable people

| March 30, 2020

There has been a rise in cases of doorstep scammers conning elderly and vulnerable people in Buckinghamshire during the Coronavirus emergency.

The Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards team have seen an increase of 40% in the total number of scam complaints reported to them since beginning of March 2020

Examples include a woman in her 80’s from South Buckinghamshire answered the door to a man who tried to demand £220 in cash to complete a health and safety check. While there have been widespread complaints of scammers trying to take people’s bank details to cover payments for school meals whilst the schools are closed.

Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards are urging residents to be especially wary of people offering or selling:

  • Virus testing kits – these are only offered by the NHS.
  • Vaccines or miracle cures – there is currently no vaccine or cure.
  • Shopping or medication collection services that require payment upfront.
  • Home cleaning services.
  • Overpriced or counterfeit products.

Residents must also be wary of emails, texts, telephone calls and messages via social media from scammers offering refunds on taxes or bills, as these are highly prevalent.

Trading Standards have provided some helpful tips to help prevent people from becoming victims of scams:

  • Don’t be pressurised into making a decision. If someone is trying to rush you or panic you, they are probably trying to scam you.
  • Only purchase goods from trusted retailers.
  • Be suspicious of requests for money upfront.
  • Do not give your bank card or bank details to a stranger. Never write your PIN number down.
  • Know who you’re dealing with – if you don’t know the person who’s offering you help then ask to be introduced by someone that you know and trust.

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: ‘I am absolutely appalled that anyone would use a time of national emergency to target vulnerable and older people. This is as low as you can get.

I’m heartened by the fantastic number of people locally who want to help others, and I’d encourage anyone looking out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours to keep an eye and ear out for these types of scammers.

Anyone with information or who may be worried about coronavirus related scams is advised to contact Trading Standards. You can email [email protected] or call on 01296 388788.

*Source of article : Press release from Buckinghamshire County Council.

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