Don't get caught out by fraudsters
Fraudsters are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to target vulnerable individuals, and will exploit any means they can for ﬁnancial or other gains.
Remain alert and vigilant
…particularly to requests for your bank account details or personal data.
We are receiving a large volume of requests for assistance. Some of these will not be genuine and will be from individuals or organised crime gangs trying to make money or obtain services for criminal purposes. If you apply to the council for ﬁnancial assistance – for example for a payment from the retail and small businesses fund – please don’t be alarmed or oﬀended if you are asked to provide additional information to prove you are eligible.
We have a duty to protect public money and ensure all government grants and funding is paid to genuine applicants.
Be aware of people offering or selling:
- Virus testing kits - these are only offeredby the NHS
- Vaccines or miracles cures - there is currently no vaccine or cure
- Overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself from coronavirus (such as anti-bacterial procucts or face masks)
- Shopping or medication collection services
- Home cleaning services
Protect yourself and others:
- Don’t be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Only buy from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information
- Don't assume everyone is genuine. It's ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to push or panic you
- If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you're unsure
The following are circulating on social media, by email or text message:
- A scam which is targeting parents in schools. We have been alerted by the Department for Education (DfE) that some parents have received an email stating: “As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported”
- A text entitled ‘GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT’. This states that an individual has been recorded as leaving home on three occasions and has therefore been ﬁned £35. The individual is signposted to a link to ﬁnd more information
Stay safe online
1. Check that the message makes sense - watch out for bad grammar or spelling errors; does what you’re being asked sound right?
2. Always conﬁrm a message is genuine by calling the person / organisation - look up the contact information from a diﬀerent place or source
3. Never click on any link in an email or message if you do not know the sender or unless you are 100% sure
4. Stop and think before engaging in any correspondence - don’t be rushed or pressured into responding
5. Only use oﬃcial sources for information around coronavirus
Online shopping scams
- For example websites or individuals offering protective equipment (such as face masks) or hand sanitiser for sale that never gets delivered
Fraudsters are targeting people in their homes as a ploy to gain entry to steal property or to get personal information such as bank account or general ﬁnancial details.
This could be people pretending to be:
- officials oﬀering COVID-19 home testing
- police officers stating they were investigating coronavirus related matters
- volunteers oﬀering to help with shopping or other daily tasks
There are a number of genuine community–led organisations which have been set-up across the local area to help those people who are self-isolating, vulnerable or struggling to cope due to the lockdown and restrictions in place. These organisations will not ask for money in advance, they will only oﬀer assistance in response to a request from you for help. They will not knock on your door unsolicited.
All legitimate organisations will be happy to give alternative ways you can verify they are genuine. They will not ask you to provide your bank account details to them. If a voluntary organisation is helping you with shopping they will advise you when they will be delivering, how they will expect payment and that they will observe the social distancing rules when at your property.
Further information and contacts
Find more informatin at the National Cyber Security Centre.
You can also report any matters to the council’s counter fraud unit, who work on behalf of councils across Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire. You can email in conﬁdence email@example.com.