Bogus phone calls and counterfeit medical supplies: beware the latest Covid-19-related scams

Don't give card details to cold callers. Picture: Getty Images

Don't give card details to cold callers. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Scam phone calls claiming that face masks are now compulsory to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have been reported to Devon and Somerset’s Trading Standards.

The bogus calls are among the latest attempts by criminals to cash in on the crisis.

They consist of an automated voice saying it is now a legal requirement to wear a mask, and asking for an order to be placed immediately with a debit or credit card.

Anyone receiving this type of call is advised to hang up immediately without giving any information.

Other Covid-19 scams include medical kits that are claimed to prevent or cure the virus, counterfeit or unsafe medical supplies such as hand sanitiser and swabbing kits, and financial scams including phone calls purporting to be from the victim’s bank or mortgage provider.

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Trading Standards is giving some general advice on avoiding fraud and other crime, which includes asking any unexpected visitors for ID, saying ‘no’ to any offers made online, by phone or in person that sound suspicious, and being wary of unexpected emails or texts.

Rather than clicking on a link or attachment, go to the website of the organisation you want to visit.

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Do not trust phone numbers given out in possibly suspicious phone calls; look up the number yourself.

Only make online payments if there is a padlock symbol in the browser and you have carefully checked the site and website address for inconsistencies.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “At times like this it is important to look out for each other and remain aware of the small number of criminals that try to take advantage of the impact of coronavirus.

“It is good to see work continuing to keep local residents in Devon safe and informed.”

“I would urge everyone to be mindful of potential coronavirus scams and take appropriate steps to help safeguard yourself, your business and members of your local community.”

The Citizens Advice Consumer Service can be contacted on 0808 223 1133 or via the webform on their website.

For more information about COVID-19 scams and how to safeguard yourself visit the Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards website.

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