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Council warn of coronavirus-related scams and cold-calling

RESIDENTS in Carmarthenshire are being warned of scammers and unscrupulous cold callers who are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus.

Trading standards are warning of a number of coronavirus-themed emails, as well as phone calls, trying to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

There are also reports of bogus healthcare workers claiming to be offering ‘home testing’ for Covid-19, resulting in distraction burglaries; and residents giving money to individuals who have offered to pick-up some shopping on their behalf, but then they do not return. Residents should only accept help from friends and family or have deliveries from established local businesses.

Officers are advising residents not to open the door to anyone they are not expecting and that there is no need to have any unnecessary work, such as home improvements or gardening, carried out at this time. They should only engage the services of people that they know or who have been referred to them.

Scams include:

Telephone scams from apparent mortgage companies requesting bank details so that they can implement the three-month mortgage break. Never give bank details over the phone or by email and contact your mortgage advisor direct on their usual telephone number to make enquiries about mortgage breaks.
Emails claiming to be from the Government offering to give a tax rebate to support people during this period. The emails, which look official, state the rebate amount and then ask the recipient to click on a link to receive it. They are then asked to fill in their personal details, including their credit card number. This allows the scammer to take money directly from their bank account.
Emails allegedly from the World Health Organisation which claims to hold crucial coronavirus safety advice. It has an attachment which downloads a keylogger, which allows the scammer to follow the online movements of the user, and gain access to their device and personal details.
Fake phone apps which claim to provide updates on the virus but contain a form of ‘ransomware’, named CovidLock, which upon downloading, locks the phone and displays a message, demanding that the user pays a sum of money to unlock it. Phone users are advised only to download apps directly from the Apple store or Android Play store as these are checked by the platforms.
Swansea Council has also been the subject of a phone text scam which takes residents to a fake website and asks them to provide their bank details so they can send them a payment as part of the Government’s promise to tackle Covid-19 . Although we have had not received any reports from Carmarthenshire residents, please be on your guard.

Executive Board Member for Public Protection Cllr Philip Hughes said: “It is disgraceful that at such a difficult time like this, there are unscrupulous individuals out there who are trying to exploit the current situation and take advantage of people, particularly the vulnerable; when we should all be pulling together.

“We do not want to cause alarm, but we are urging residents to be extra vigilant and to be aware of these types of scams that are doing the rounds.

“We are also warning those individuals that you will be caught, and we will not hesitate to take action against you.”

Scams can be difficult to recognise, but there are a few things you can look out for, visit Citizens Advice’s online scams helper.

Carmarthenshire County Council is part of the national ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme. Local approved traders can be found online at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.

Please email tradingstandards@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 01267 234567 for advice.

For financial help and advice please call the Citizens Advice Bureaux in Carmarthen 01267 234 488, Ammanford 01269 592 267 and Llanelli 01554 759 626. They also have the following dedicated phone lines:

Debt ā€“ 01267 231 275
Welfare benefits -01267 231 742
Universal credit – 07740 945 348
Energy efficiency ā€“ 07565 562 282

Please be patient as they are experiencing high demand at present.

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