Beware of Coronavirus related Scams

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Unfortunately, there are criminals who are trying to exploit people during this unprecedented global health crisis. They are particularly focusing on older and more vulnerable people who are currently isolated from their friends and family. We thought that we should make you aware of these scams to try and ensure you don’t become victims.

There is currently a lot of concern and uncertainty in our society about COVOID-19 and this enables criminals to benefit by exploiting people’s fears. There are a number of supplements and anti-virus kits that are being advertised on social media, and some criminals are going door to door trying to sell these products. They falsely claim these products will cure or prevent COVOID-19; this is a scam.

Be aware that even if you have not been targeted you may have neighbours who are. One of the positives which has come from our current circumstances is the amazing community volunteer groups which are providing help during these tough times. However, you need to be alert for spotting the scammers; there have been reports of criminals targeting residents, often older people or people living with long-term health conditions, and offering to do shopping for them, taking their money and disappearing. Remember you should ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent a charity.

National Trading Standards have compiled a list of COVOID-19 scams which have been identified so far; these include:
Doorstep crime

  • Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.
  • Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Online scams

  • Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
  • Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is 'corona-virus-map[dot]com’.

Refund scams

  • Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.

Counterfeit goods

  • Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.

Telephone scams

  • As more people self-isolate at home, there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also increase, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.

Donation scams

  • There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.

Loan sharks

  • Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence

There is a group called 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.

We encourage everyone to keep in regular contact with friends and family via the many platforms available to us, be it a phone call, email or via social media. Try to ensure you inform them of these scams and the possible dangers at this time.

If someone has been targeted by a scam, it can be reported to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by calling 0300 123 2040. 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/.

Don’t forget the University continue to update the Frequently Asked Questions page which features sections on looking after your health, working from home, self-isolating, caring for dependents and financial concerns. You can e-mail if you have a question or concern on coronavirus@aber.ac.uk or ring the University helpline 01970 622483 with your questions and concerns about a broad range of matters relating to the Coronavirus and what it might mean to you.

All SU staff will be working but continuing their activities from home, working remotely Monday to Friday until at least Monday the 13th of April. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us about any SU matter, as we’re keen to keep going and to be as supportive and helpful as we possibly can. All staff contacts can be found here: https://www.abersu.co.uk/aboutaber/abersustaff/

If you have any questions please email union@aber.ac.uk

Stay safe and well!

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