Reminder to Public to be Vigilant Regarding COVID Scams
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Cleveland Police would like to warn and remind the public about potential COVID scams as criminals are still using fraudulent emails, phone calls, texts messages or social media post to target people.
Officers would ask that family and friends stay in contact with vulnerable members of their family to ensure they know to look out for any warnings signs regarding these scams also.
Emails and text messages
If you receive an email, text or WhatsApp message purporting to be from the government, HMRC, the World Health Organisation or a COVID related charities etc please think twice before you part with your money or information as perpetrators often pretend to be from well-known and reputable organisations.
A way to check if a text or email is genuine is to contact the organisation over the phone, or check where the email has come from. For example, sometimes an email will state that it has come from HMRC but when you click on the link to the email sender the email will come up as something such as 648HMRC12633@gov.com which would not be an email which the company would use. Any emails that contain lots of random numbers and letters are usually scammers.
Never click on links or download attachments as criminals may infect your devices with malware or ask you to enter your personal or financial information into fake websites. In some cases this can lead to your identity being stolen.
If you receive a call offering you protective face masks, hand sanitiser, testing kits or medicine, be aware that they may not always be genuine. If you do receive a call, don’t be afraid to refuse, reject or ignore their request. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Social media posts
With world markets currently under immense pressure, the chance to move your money to new investments with unusually high returns may sound like too good an opportunity to miss. Proceed with caution and make sure you check the Financial Conduct Authority’s register for regulated firms and individuals here: https://register.fca.org.uk/s/ . It could be fraud or a scam if you’re being pressurised to act quickly.
A knock on the door
You should always be cautious when accepting help from an unknown individual or allowing them access to your home in any capacity (even more so now we are in lockdown). You should only accept assistance or take visits from people well-known to you, or who you know have been sent by a government body or reputable organisation. If you are in any doubt about someone’s identity, you should take steps to verify it – by directly contacting the organisation they claim to be from using a number you know to be genuine.
There are no cures or vaccines for COVID at this time and medical or health professionals will not come to your home unannounced and without prior notification.
If anyone attempts to force or coerce you into handing over funds – in person or otherwise – always contact the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
More information regarding fraud can be found here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/