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Trading Standards Scotland
In this edition of Scam Share we'll look at some of the most recent scams which have been reported by consumers across Scotland.

Since the National Cyber Security Centre launched their Suspicious Email Reporting Service in April, they have received almost 2.5 million reports from the public about scam emails. This has led to the removal of over 24,000 malicious URLs. If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to
The UK European Consumer Centre (ECC) has also seen a 34% increase in consumer requests for help in 2020, many of which were related to travel cancellations. 

The Scam Share bulletin has now been running for almost six months - next week we will publish a special edition of the bulletin highlighting some of the most frequently reported scams in Scotland since March.

It's more important than ever to make sure that you stay Scam Aware and that you share information about scams with vulnerable relatives or friends. Report all scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 - you can also forward suspicious emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for information about the latest scams reported by Scottish consumers.
Contact Tracing Scams 
Contact Tracing
The Scottish Government launched the new Protect Scotland contact tracing app last week and, in her daily briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister warned about 'despicable' contact tracing scams. 
Since the launch of the Test and Protect system, there have been several reports of scammers posing as contact tracers and asking people to make payments for tests or asking for financial information, social media logins or passwords.
It is more important than ever that you know what to expect when a contact tracer gets in touch with you and what genuine contact tracers will NOT do.

Genuine contact tracers WILL NOT: 
  • Ask you for information other than your movements and the people you have been in contact with
  • Ask for financial information such as bank or credit card details or details of medical records
  • Try to sell you anything or ask for any payments or donations
  • Ask you to set up a PIN or download anything or ask for remote access to your computer
  • Ask for your social media details, passwords or PIN numbers
  • Ask you to phone a premium rate number or visit a website other than NHS Scotland or the Scottish Government

Genuine contact tracers will give you the option to call the national number, 0800 030 8012, to verify that the service is genuine.

Get information about contact tracing in Scotland from official sources: NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government or Public Health Scotland.

Report contact tracing scams to Advice Direct Scotland. If you have been the victim of a fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101.

Energy Efficiency Scams
Citizens Advice Scotland Report
Citizens Advice Scotland have this week published new research on how consumer protection should be strengthened for the energy efficiency and renewables market.
Without adequate protection, there is a risk that consumers will remain vulnerable to mis-selling, poor installations and rogue traders. In 2018, cold calling and mis-selling about energy efficiency was the most reported nuisance call in Scotland, accounting for 47% of all nuisance calls.

Over the last few weeks, we have been running a campaign to help Scottish consumers avoid energy marketing scams and recognise misleading adverts which promote non-existent funding schemes or grants. You can watch our short animated videos based on misleading adverts for window and boiler funding on our YouTube channel, along with a series of short videos produced in partnership with Home Energy Scotland to help Scottish consumers recognise and avoid energy scams.
Find out more about energy marketing scams on our website.
Fake Adverts: Financial Services
Cyber Scams
Consumer body Which? have found that scammers have been manipulating Google adverts to appear at the top of search results. In one case, a paid-for fake advert for digital banking service Revolut appeared at the top of the page when customers searched for the company's help desk.
The advert listed a fake website with a helpline number, despite the fact that Revolut do not actually operate a telephone helpline.
Customers who called the number were asked to download a remote access tool to their smartphone, which allowed the scammers to access their bank account details. They were told that this tool was a new feature of the banking app. So far, over £67,000 has been lost to this scam - some customers were also convinced to transfer money between accounts or to send passport photos, putting them at risk of identity theft.

There have been several other instances of scammers using fake adverts to pose as insurance companies, debt advice charities or financial firms in order to obtain consumers' personal details or money.
Debt advice charity StepChange have already reported 56 cases to Google this year where advertisers were impersonating them. Scammers created fake websites with names such as 'Steps4Change' or 'Step into Change', many of which were actually lead generators which received commission payments in return for referring potentially vulnerable people on to debt solution providers. This is particularly worrying at a time when more and more people are finding themselves in financially challenging situation.

Read about these scams in more detail in this recent Which? article - they also have detailed advice on spotting scam websites.

The National Cyber Security Centre has a range of guidance and advice to help individuals and families stay safe online, including useful guidance on shopping safely online.

You can report online adverts which you think are scams to the Advertising Standards Agency's Scam Ad Alert system.

Scottish consumers should report all scams to Advice Direct Scotland. If you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101.
New HMRC Scams
HMRC Scam Text
Since March, over 10,000 phishing scams related to the Covid-19 pandemic have been reported to HMRC.
Another HMRC text scam has been reported this week which says that your tax refund from 2019 is still pending and asks you to click on a link to process the refund. The link leads to a fake website which asks you for personal and financial details.
Parking Charge Scam
A new scam email (pictured) has also been reported in the Highlands - the recipient is told that they have received a penalty charge notice and is asked to click on a link to pay the charge online. The email, which includes an HM Courts & Tribunals Service logo, does not give any details of vehicles or locations. HMRC have confirmed that this is a scam and that penalty charge notices will not be issued in this way.
A scam council tax letter has also been received by some consumers - it appears to be from the local Council and says that, as part of a Government package of measures to help recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the recipient may be eligible to avoid paying council tax for up to up to 12 months. You are asked to visit a website and enter details of everyone living at your address.

If you are unsure whether a message from HMRC is genuine, check their website before clicking on any links or providing any details. Links in any genuine letters or emails from them will lead to the '' website. If a link includes the word 'gov' but ends in it is likely to be fake.
HMRC regularly update their list of genuine communications to help you avoid scams.

Find out more about avoiding HMRC scams and avoiding council tax scams on our website.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website.
Fraud Facts for Freshers
Phishing Scams
The Student Loans Company (SLC) is urging new and returning students to be wary of phishing scams as the autumn term begins. They are warning students not to click on links in unexpected emails or text messages and to be suspicious of requests for personal information.
They have put together some top tips for students:
  • Be wary of emails which start 'Dear Student' - phishing emails are often sent in bulk and are unlikely to include your name;

  • Check the quality of the communication - misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing;

  • Messages such as ‘Failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed’ are designed to convey a sense of urgency to prompt a quick response;

  • Think before you click. If you receive an email or text that contains a link that you’re not sure of, don't risk it. Always go direct to the source rather than clicking on a potentially dangerous link.

Find out more in the SLC's guide to identifying a phishing scam. Get Safe Online also have useful guidance to help students avoid cyber scams.

Police Scotland have useful information on avoiding rental scams, which will also help new students who are looking for accommodation.

Students should report all scams to Advice Direct Scotland or contact Police Scotland on 101 if they have been the victim of fraud.
Recent Doorstep Scams in Scotland
In the last week, there have been several complaints about doorstep scammers visiting communities across Scotland. There have been reports of cold callers:
  • Posing as staff from an energy supply company or claiming to offer government-backed energy deals;
  • Offering to remove tarmac from a driveway and replacing it with monoblock. The tarmac was removed, but the rogue trader didn't return to complete the job, despite having been paid almost £2,000 as a deposit;
  • Selling 'spare' TVs out of the back of a van
  • Posing as Council staff and offering to cut down trees on the property;
  • Offering to remove rubbish for a cash payment - the rubbish was later found to have been dumped and burned;
  • Claiming that a very elderly consumer needed to have repair work carried out on their roof - the trader only left when the consumer's daughter arrived. The consumer had recently moved into the property and a survey had shown that the roof was in good condition.
Six fraudsters who scammed £400,700 out of vulnerable homeowners have recently been prosecuted following a nationwide investigation conducted by Croydon Council Trading Standards.
The criminals pressured 19 elderly victims into having roof repair work carried out on their properties. The overpriced work was either unnecessary, carried out to a poor standard, or not carried out at all. Read more about the case in the Journal of Trading Standards.

Find advice on avoiding doorstep scammers on our website.

Report rogue traders to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website

If you feel feel uncomfortable or suspicious, call Police Scotland on 101. If you feel threatened or unsafe at any time, call 999.

Sign up for Neighbourhood Watch Alerts to stay up to date with what is going on in your community.d
Bank Phone Scam
A 23-year old man from Paisley recently lost a four-figure sum after receiving a cold call from a scammer posing as a member of staff from the Bank of Scotland. The caller said that the man's account had been compromised and convinced him that he needed to move it to another account for safety.
The criminal was able to clone the bank's phone number in order appear genuine.

Police Scotland advise that your bank will NEVER cold call you and ask you to transfer money to a different account. 
Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have made a payment to a scammer or if you are worried that a fraudulent transaction has been made from your account. Use the phone number on your bank statement or a publicly listed number (don’t use a number given to you by a cold caller). To ensure that you are disconnected from the cold caller, phone another number such as 123 before phoning your bank or call them from another phone.

Find out more about avoiding bank scams on our website.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland and if you have been the victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Police Scotland on 101.
Alton Towers & Central Parcs Scams
Phishing Scams
Both Alton Towers and Central Parcs have recently warned customers to be wary of fake Facebook pages which have been set up in their names.
One page called 'Alton Towers Fans' asks people to click a link and enter their details or to share the post in order to receive four season passes to the theme park.
Similarly, the fake Center Parcs page offers the chance to win a free stay at the Longleat resort.
Both include links to fake websites which are designed to collect personal details.

Many fake Facebook pages offer prizes or deals if people like and share their posts in order to appear more popular - this is called 'like farming'. Once the page has gained popularity, the scammers can change the name of it and use it to post further fraudulent adverts, which may contain links to malicious websites.

We have featured a number of similar social media giveaway / prize draw scams in the bulletin over the last few months. Remember that any legitimate promotions or competitions being run by big brands or companies will be featured on their official website.

What to Do
  • Before taking part in a promotion, survey or competition which is supposedly being run by a well known company or big brand, look at their official website or social media channels to see if it is genuine;
  • Be wary of surveys or competitions on social media which ask for personal details - think carefully about what information you are putting online. You don't know who is accessing the information you enter and what they could use it for;
  • Check the spelling and grammar in the post. Fake promotions often contain small mistakes and unusual wording.

Scottish consumers should report any similar scams to Advice Direct Scotland. If you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101
IPTV Warning System from Vistalworks
Following a sharp increase in the number of people searching for streaming services during lockdown and with more football matches being televised due to the absence of fans, the English Premier League are keen to crack down on illegal streams.
According to the recent IP Crime and Enforcement Report, the Premier League removed or blocked over 225,000 live streams and over 300,000 clips of its matches during the 2019/20 season.

Vistalworks have developed a free warning system which alerts people who are searching for cheap streaming services and devices on sites like eBay that they could risk exposure to malware and spyware or opening up their personal data to criminals. Their checker automatically issues a warning about products on eBay that may breach copyright law.

Find out more about the Vistalworks checker on their website and read about the dangers of using illegal streaming services and devices in this recent article written by co-founder and chief executive Vicky Brock in the Scotsman.

Get advice on staying safe while gaming and streaming online from the National Cyber Security Centre and Get Safe Online.
Fake Driving Licenses
A recent investigation by the BBC has found that scammers claiming to work for the DVLA are selling 'full driving licences' on social media for £600. The scammers say that they can pass a practical driving test on behalf of their client.
They then send a fake plastic license as well as an image of a fake DVLA website which appears to show that the client is registered to drive. In order to complete the forms, the scammers ask for the client's personal information and passport picture.

The DVLA has confirmed that it would be impossible for someone to take a driving test on another person's behalf - you can be fined up to £1,000 for driving without a valid licence. 

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. If you have lost money, report this to Police Scotland on 101.
Business Scam: Bank Transfers
Business Scams
Businesses who use bank transfers as a means of payment are being asked to be wary of a new scam which was attempted in Scotland recently. The scammer called a construction firm and placed an order for building materials, which he was going to pay for via bank transfer.
He phoned the company the next day (a Saturday) to say that his wife had mistakenly paid over £4,000 into their bank account and that he needed the money back. The business owner refused to transfer the money back until he received proof that the customer himself had actually paid it in. The customer continued to harass him over the weekend but did not provide any proof of payment. On the Monday, the business owner discovered that the payment had been made via cheque.  Although the business account was showing that the money was pending, the cheque eventually bounced and if the owner had agreed to refund the scammer over the weekend, he would have lost the £4,000.

Report business scams to Advice Direct Scotland and if you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Police Scotland on 101.
Business Resilience to Cyber Attacks
Business Scams
With cyber attacks on the rise since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, organisations need to be ready and able to deal with such an attack on their own organisation – and know who to call on for support should such an event happen. The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) has won a tender from the Scottish Government to launch and deliver the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)’s Exercise in a Box to businesses in Scotland. 
More than 250 organisations will be able to discover how resilient they are to cyber attacks and test their response in a safe environment, without worry about repercussion to their business.
Find out more and sign up for taster sessions on the SBRC website, where you will also find a variety of resources to support and protect Scottish businesses.

The NCSC also has a variety of resources including security guidance to help organisations choose, configure and safely use video conferencing services, guidance for businesses who have had to move from physical premises to online working and guidance on preparing your business and staff for home working.

Find more information about common business scams and how to avoid them, a well as links to official guidance on our website.

Report business scams to Advice Direct Scotland - you can also forward scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.
Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit
With many support schemes such as payment holidays coming to an end, many people may be tempted to turn to illegal money lenders. Loan sharks target the most vulnerable people, particularly those who have been financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you feel that you have nowhere to turn, please remember that you are not alone. 
Anyone in Scotland worried about a loan shark can find links to more organisations that can help through our webpage or call our free and confidential 24-hour hotline 7 days a week on 0800 074 0878. You can also fill out our online reporting form
Official Contacts
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.
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