A consortium of charities based in West Sussex, Brighton and Hove is advising people of the steps they can take to avoid scammers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Age UK Horsham District, Aldingbourne Trust, Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North, South, East), Healthwatch West Sussex, Independent Lives, West Sussex Mind and 4Sight have come together to try and reassure people using their services what to expect and to highlight ways to avoid potential fraudsters.
Reports suggest that there has been an increase in scams since the Coronavirus pandemic began. These include online shopping, where people buy items like hand sanitiser or face masks which never arrive, phishing emails and suspicious callers, offering bogus shopping services or fake Coronavirus tests.
General scam advice includes:
- Don’t open the door to anyone calling ‘out of the blue’.
- Don’t give money upfront to someone on the doorstep offering to shop for you, unless you know them well and trust them.
- Be aware that official bodies are not offering coronavirus testing door to door.
- Do not click links or open emails from senders you don’t know.
- Buy only from well-known online retailers.
- Do not give out personal information such as bank details, addresses, existing insurance, pension, or investment details.
If someone is unable to get assistance from people they know and trust, the consortium advises people use well known organisations or registered charities for support. It’s useful to know that when visiting people or offering ‘doorstep’ services, the charities listed above will always:
- Call in advance or have taken a call from the client.
- Let the client know the name of the person to expect.
- Take payment in advance through online/telephone payments. Payment will not be taken on the doorstep unless the client is already known to the charity and a prior agreement has been made.
Helen Rice, Chief Executive at Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove said “As a group of charities, we’re concerned that scammers might use the Coronavirus as an excuse to target vulnerable people, especially those who are self-isolating and need support at this time. We want people to be aware of online and phone scams as well and to be extra careful about who they open their door to. It’s sickening that while charities like ours are working tirelessly to help people during this difficult time, fraudsters are seeing an opportunity to profit.”
For more information on scammers and fraud, please visit www.actionfraud.police.uk
Citizens Advice have an online scam checker here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam
To find out about the services being offered by local charities at this time, please visit the following websites:
Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove – www.ageukwestsussex.org.uk
Age UK Horsham District – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/horshamdistrict
Healthwatch West Sussex – www.healthwatchwestsussex.co.uk
Citizens Advice West Sussex – www.advicewestsussex.org.uk
Aldingbourne Trust – aldingbournetrust.org
Carers Support West Sussex – www.carerssupport.org.uk
West Sussex Mind – https://www.westsussexmind.org
4sight – https://www.4sight.org.uk