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Trading Standards Scotland
In this edition of Scam Share we'll be looking at some of the most recent scams related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which have been reported by consumers across Scotland.
Research has revealed that the UK is the most heavily targeted nation for COVID-19-related email spam, with 20.8% of global malicious Coronavirus spam is sent to UK-based email addresses. The research also found that the UK hosted 10.4% of all websites containing malicious COVID-19-related URLs.
Read the full article by CTSI here.

Stay safe while online at home and report all scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.
Fake Shopping Vouchers
Fake Voucher
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) this week received evidence of a shopping voucher scam related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scammers are emailing fake vouchers, supposedly from supermarkets, offering assistance buying food. Clicking on the link to apply for the coupon could take you to a site trying to steal your personal and financial details.
Look out for poor spelling/grammar (such as 'Quarantaine' in the example shown) and if in doubt, delete the email. Don't click on links in unsolicited emails or enter your card details.

Other Common Email/Text Scams
  • Emails or texts supposedly from HMRC or your local council offering a tax refund or financial help during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has an up-to-date list of common HMRC scams on their website and all similar scams should be reported to them directly.
  • HMRC has also warned that returning NHS workers are being targeted by promoters of tax avoidance. Read more on their website.
  • An email supposedly from the World Health Organisation (WHO) asking you to click on a link or download information about COVID-19. The WHO has issued a statement warning against these scams and have said that they will not contact you in this way.
What to Do
  • If you receive any of these emails or texts, do not click on any links or open any attachments. If you do, your details could be harvested by scammers. Ofcom has published advice for consumers on dealing with phone and text scams related to COVID-19.
  • Report scam messages to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their new website dedicated to COVID-19.
Fake Texts from Phone Providers
Fake Text Message
There have been several complaints from consumers who have received fake texts, supposedly from their phone provider, saying that a payment has been declined and asking them to click on a link to update their payment details.
This example was reported to Neighbourhood Watch Scotland - clicking the link in the text message took the recipient to the legitimate-looking screens pictured below, where they were asked to input their phone number, account password, personal details and card details. This scam text appears to be from Three, but customers from other phone providers have reported similar messages.
Scam Texts
What to Do
  • If you receive an unexpected text from your phone provider, don't click on any links. If you're not sure whether it's genuine, contact your provider using a phone number listed on their website or on a recent statement.
  • Report fake text messages to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000
5G: Misleading Information
Mobile Phone
Following vandalism of mobile phone masts across the country, Ofcom has this week issued a statement emphasising that there is NO relationship between 5G mobile signals and COVID-19.
Be wary of scams which may evolve related to this conspiracy theory, such as the sale of fake flash drives which will supposedly protect you from 'harmful' 5G radiation and prevent you from contracting COVID-19.
Cyber Security
The Scottish Government’s Cyber Resilience Unit has produced a Cyber Resilience Notice for business organisations, public sector organisations, charities and the general public. The latest issue highlights the latest cyber, email and text scams and includes guidance on using web conferencing and staying safe online while working from home. Read it here.
The National Cyber Security Centre has guidance on staying safe online when working from home and tips on spotting and avoiding email and online scams.

Business Gateway has advice and useful resources to help you keep your business safe online.

Report cyber scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their new website dedicated to COVID-19.
Unfair Pricing
Unfair Pricing
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has this week launched a new online reporting tool to make it easier for consumers to report a business they believe is behaving unfairly during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 
Pension Scams
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have warned that savers' fears about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on markets and personal finances may make them more vulnerable to scams. They are urging savers not to rush to make any decisions about their pension.
Visit the Pensions Advisory Service website for free and impartial advice about pensions and visit the FCA's Scam Smart website to find out more about avoiding pension scams.
Fake Products Online
Fake Coronavirus Cures
Vistalworks have recently updated their online checker to include baby products, such as formula, milk and nappies as well as a variety of so-called 'cures' for COVID-19.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) and the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT), have urged consumers to take seriously the risks presented by the growing numbers of fake and ineffective cleaning solutions, anti-bacterial wipes, surgical masks and medicines being sold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards has released guidance for businesses about placing hand cleaning and sanitising products on the market and about PPE regulations.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has stated that there are currently no CE-marked testing kits available for home use. Once an approved test becomes available, this will be announced by the Government. Any testing kits advertised for sale online could be fake and could provide you with a false positive, risking your own health and that of others.

The MHRA has also investigated an increasing number of bogus medical products being sold through unauthorised websites claiming to treat or prevent COVID-19.
At this time, there are currently no medicines licensed specifically for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Any products or cures advertised may be fake and potentially dangerous.

What to Do
Doorstep Scams
TV Aerial
Despite the lockdown, doorstep scammers are still active in communities across Scotland. In addition to scams related to COVID-19 such as offering to disinfect driveways or posing as charity workers and NHS staff, more traditional doorstep scams are continuing.
We are aware of fraudulent aerial installers who are continuing to visit consumers and overcharge for work. The CAI have guidance for telecommunications engineers who are working during the quarantine period. If you require the services of an installer/engineer, find a trusted local professional through the Get Me Viewing or Get Me Digital websites.
If you need to call a trader for emergency repair work during the quarantine, find someone who has been vetted and approved through a national or local authority trusted trader scheme

General Advice for Avoiding Doorstep Scams
  • Remember - you are not being rude if you shut the door on unsolicited callers.
  • Don't agree to make any payments for goods or services offered by cold callers. 
  • If you feel feel uncomfortable or suspicious, call Police Scotland on 101. If you feel threatened or unsafe at any time, call 999.
  • Report rogue traders to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website
  • Sign up for Neighbourhood Watch Alerts to stay up to date with what is going on in your community. Keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours.
  • Get more advice on our website
Cancellation Rights
Advice Direct Scotland
Many consumers have been seeking advice and information about their cancellation rights. Advice Direct Scotland are continuously updating the information on their COVID-19 consumer website, including advice from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). The EU Commission has this week released interpretive guidelines on passenger rights.

If you feel that a business is acting unfairly during the COVID-19 outbreak, you can report them to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) using their new reporting form.
Community Support
The Scottish Government has launched the 'Scotland Cares' campaign to encourage people to sign up to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like to help others in your community, visit the Ready Scotland website.

Those who need support can also find links to official organisations that can help through Ready Scotland.

On our website we have listed five simple 'helping hands' guidelines, both for those in need of help and for those wishing to provide help to ensure that they stay safe.
Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have this week proposed new temporary measures to quickly support users of credit products such as loans, credit cards & overdrafts who are facing changing financial circumstances due to COVID-19 Find out more on their website.
If you've been offered a personal loan via an online advert or unsolicited email, you can check whether the lender has been authorised by the FCA on their register.
The SIMLU 24-hour confidential hotline will remain open 7 days a week throughout the ongoing lockdown: call them for advice and support on 0800 074 0878. 
Find links to organisations that can help through their webpage and remember that you are not alone.
Find Trusted Information
In a time of great uncertainty and a constantly changing news cycle, there are a lot of misleading stories being shared online and through social media. Many of these stories can cause panic and distress, particularly to vulnerable people, and can make people more susceptible to being scammed. The UK Government have a campaign website with information about spotting misleading information on social media. 
What to Do Get genuine information and updates about the COVID-19 pandemic from official websites: Find a full list of community links and trusted information sources on our website.
Copyright © 2020 Trading Standards Scotland, All rights reserved.

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