Posted on Tuesday 17th March 2020
People from across Staffordshire are being reminded to watch out for scams relating to Coronavirus, as criminals try to exploit the crisis.
The latest warning from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards and Information Governance Teams comes after security experts have reported a rise in scams linked to the outbreak.
Scammers have been posing as leading health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and sending emails with links claiming to contain important updates. But, when clicked on, these can lead to devices being infected with malware. Scammers are also creating domain names similar to these kinds of organisations’ in order to con people into believing they are genuine.
Anyone receiving an email that seems suspicious in any way, should never click on links or attachments and never respond to unsolicited messages that ask for their personal or financial details.
Communities leader at Staffordshire County Council Gill Heath said:
“Unfortunately criminals will exploit any situation to make money and during a crisis like this, it was very likely we would see scams linked to the Coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re simply asking people to be vigilant and report any email or telephone scams to our Information Governance Team or to Citizens Advice. We appreciate that many scams can appear genuine but If people are in any doubt at all they should ignore the offer, delete the email or hang up the phone if it’s a telephone call. People should always be wary about an unsolicited approach.
“It’s often older or more vulnerable residents who are targeted by scams too so please keep an eye out for elderly family members or neighbours.”
Trading Standards officers are also urging people to watch out for fake websites and bogus traders who are taking advantage of supply shortages by offering cheaper items currently in demand, such as hand sanitisers and face-masks. These products are often counterfeit and of very poor quality, and in some cases, people never actually receive the item.
People should report scams to Citizens Advice through https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/