Individuals and communities are working together across Ceredigion to help those most in need. As with any crisis though, coronavirus offers opportunities to the unscrupulous to exploit the vulnerable. If you or your community group become aware that anyone is at risk of falling victim to scams, then we need your help in cracking down on them.
• Email and phone scams: You may receive contact from scammers claiming to be from a range of organisations, from your Local Authority offering free school meals payment, to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offering pay and earnings subsidies. Be wary – if you have any suspicions or if you have had no previous contact with the authority, consider contacting the relevant body by using details from its own website or literature (and not contact numbers on any potential scam emails or website links that you receive). Report any concerns to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
• Door step crime and criminals exploiting the vulnerable: While most want to protect and help others, a minority may be seeking to befriend the vulnerable for their own gain. Never give payment or your financial details to people or organisations that are unknown to you, and watch out for your neighbours, especially those who may not usually have others to rely upon. Don’t pay cash in advance, don’t hand over your bank card, and don’t allow unknown ‘volunteers’ into your home. If you suspect anyone is being abused, contact Dyfed-Powys Police. If it can be reported online please do so: www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/contact-us/report-an-incident/ otherwise call 101.
• Fake and unsafe goods: With demand rocketing for a range of goods, there have been reports of fake COVID-19 testing kits, hand sanitiser containing banned chemicals, and substandard protective face masks. Any concerns may be reported to the relevant Trading Standards Service by calling Citizens Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 05 (Welsh language line) or 03454 04 05 06 (English language line).
• Loan sharks exploit people facing financial difficulties: If you are aware of illegal money lenders who may be targeting people in financial hardship, tell the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit by calling 0300 123 3311
For more information go to https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/news/beware-of-covid19-scams/
People are being encouraged to protect their neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams. To complete the online modules, visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.
For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/.