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Be alert to Covid-19 scams, warns Trading Standards

North Yorkshire’s Trading Standards officers are encouraging family and friends to help to protect residents from potential scams amid reports of fraudsters trying to take advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Nationally, there have been reports of frauds relating to the supply of face masks, primarily online; fraudsters trying to persuade people to disclose personal information by posing as legitimate bank, police or health officials over the phone or through emails. Some claim to provide medical guidance, investment opportunities or a safe place to which to transfer money. Victims then hand over financial details or click links that may contain dangerous malware.

Other frauds include emails asking people to visit a fake website bearing an HM Revenue and Customs logo, with the promise of a tax refund. An associated website claims that, as a precaution against coronavirus, the government has set up a new tax refund programme.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “Our officers are also concerned about the potential for increased numbers of doorstep callers, who may try to visit people while they are self-isolating or social distancing and attempt to undertake unnecessary or overpriced property repairs and gardening at their homes.

"It is particularly despicable to target older or disabled people in the current situation. As always, we encourage people to follow Trading Standards’ advice and urge family, friends and neighbours to be alert to the potential for scams and to do their best to protect those who might be at risk."

Residents are advised by Trading Standards:

The National Trading Standards scams team are offering free call blockers to residents who are victims of phone frauds or are vulnerable to such calls. Residents or their representatives can request a free device at www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk/callblocker

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