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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, including those related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is Scam Awareness Week and Citizens Advice have published new research suggesting that more than one in three people in the UK have been targeted by a scammer since the beginning of lockdown. This figure rises when it comes to those who have are particularly vulnerable - 54% of those who have lost their income and 45% of those with a disability or long-term illness have been targeted by scammers. 

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. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for information about the latest scams reported by Scottish consumers.

Information about frequently reported scams and guidance about issues where there are ongoing scams related to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as travel cancellations, deliveries, PPE, fake medical products and doorstep scams, can be found on our website.

Stay safe while online at home and report all scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. Report scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.
Shut Out Scammers
This week has seen the launch of the nationwide Shut out Scammers campaign in partnership with Police Scotland. Other key partners include Advice Direct Scotland, Neighbourhood Watch and SCOTSS.

In addition to more traditional doorstep scams reported during the summer months, with rogue traders offering to carry out home maintenance, gardening work or services such as gutter cleaning or pressure washing, we have reported in this bulletin how fraudsters have adapted to the changing circumstances of the lockdown.

We have developed 5 signposts to help you shut out scammers:
  • Close the door on uninvited callers
  • Take time to think before making a decision
  • Research - get at least 3 quotes and check 3 review sites
  • Verify that the caller is genuine
  • Report suspicious behaviour to Police Scotland and report scams to Advice Direct Scotland.
Find out more in our new Doorstep Scammers Signpost Factsheet or on our website. Follow us on social media to see videos of top tips on avoiding rogue traders from partners.
Doorstep Scam
This week, one of our own colleagues was cold called by two females and a male in a liveried van who said that they had ordered a number of trees for a nearby building complex. They said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the houses were not yet ready and so they were selling the trees at a discounted rate. They offered the trees for £40 and £60.
This is a frequently used tactic by doorstep scammers - they may offer to carry out work in your garden or lay a tarmacadam driveway at a discounted rate because they "have excess materials left over from another job which they need to use up". They try to pressure you into agreeing to allow them to start work immediately.

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 need to call a trader for emergency repair work during the quarantine, find someone who has been vetted through a national or local authority approved trader scheme.
  • 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
Contact Tracing Scams
Test and Protect Infographic
Scottish consumers are continuing to report contact tracing scams linked to NHS Scotland's Test and Protect service.
East Dunbartonshire Police received reports this week about a phone scam where a cold caller claiming to be from the NHS told the consumer that they had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID -19. The caller tried to obtain bank details and payment for testing kits.
Test and Protect text
The text on the left was sent out by a local health practice, advising patients to be wary of similar scams.

Genuine contact tracers will NEVER ask you for any financial details or ask you to make a payment. They won't ask you to create a PIN number, ask for details of your social media accounts or ask you to download anything.
Find out more about recognising a contact tracing scam and a list of the official NHS contact numbers which you can phone to verify a caller's identity on our website.   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.
New Scam Ad Alert System
Advertising Standards Authority
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have launched a new Scam Ad Alert system to help protect consumers from fake adverts on digital advertising and social media platforms.
Consumers will be able to quickly report scam ads via a new reporting form, which will enable the ASA to promptly alert all participating platforms (and publishers) to help have the offending adverts removed.

Some of the problem adverts which could be reported include: 
  • fake celebrity news, such as falsely reporting that a celebrity has been assaulted or has died
  • false celebrity endorsements, such as claiming that a celebrity made their money through cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and is encouraging others to do the same
This new system will work to remove scam adverts, but will not target the scammers themselves - all online scams should still be reported to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or through their website.
Online Shopping
Online Shopping
NatWest have reported a fivefold increase last month in the number of online scams where customers paid for items on fraudulent websites which were never delivered.
We have featured reports of fake websites in several bulletins since lockdown began, as fraudsters use the lure of popular items which are sold out in official stores to scam consumers.
This week, Which? have warned about fake adverts for Clarks shoes which have been popping up on social media. In some cases, consumers who had ordered and paid for shoes were sent a scarf instead.

Which? have detailed advice on spotting scam websites and the NCSC has published excellent guidance on shopping safely online.

Find more information about online shopping scams and links to trusted guidance on our website.

Report scams to Advice Direct Scotland - if you have been the victim of fraud, report this to Police Scotland on 101.
Tax Rebate Scam
Tax Rebate Scam
A consumer received an email this week purporting to be from 'Government Gateway'. The official-looking email (with Government logos) said that, as a precaution against Covid-19, the Government had established a new tax refund programme and that the recipient was eligible for a tax rebate of £519.
The recipient was asked to click on a link to access their refund.

(The example shown was sent to a member of staff at Renfrewshire Affordable Credit Alliance.)
In April alone, HMRC received over 43,000 complaints about phishing emails.

They 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 scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre
Working From Home
When working from home, remain wary of unexpected emails which appear to be from a current or previous colleague. Our own staff have this week received emails supposedly from a former colleague, asking them to provide their phone number so that they can be updated on a pending task. The emails were sent from a suspicious-looking Gmail account which did not match the name of the supposed sender. 
The NCSC has published a range of guidance to support businesses with home working and guidance for consumers on avoiding phishing emails.

What to Do
  • Question unexpected emails which ask you to log in to an account or click on a link, even if they appear to come from someone within your company
  • Be cautious when working from home if you receive cold calls offering tech support for your IT system. Only deal with your official IT support desk, if you have one
  • Remember that scam emails and texts can look genuine and can appear to come from Government agencies, people within your organisation and trusted companies
  • Do not click links in pop-up adverts on your computer and never allow an unsolicited caller to access your computer remotely
  • Report scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre
Find links to trusted guidance for businesses on our website.
Fake Covid-19 Testing Kits
A man was arrested in London last week for allegedly selling over 500 fake coronavirus testing kits online. The National Crime Agency say that they are continuing to investigate the sale of various counterfeit products relating to Covid-19.
The MHRA has confirmed that:
"No COVID-19 antibody self-testing kits have received CE mark status and there are no such testing kits available in the UK for home use."

Any website or social media post offering to sell self-testing kits should be reported to the MHRA through their Yellow Card scheme.

Vistalworks have recently updated their blog about fake testing kits online to reflect the current MHRA guidelines. 

Make sure that you get information about testing kits and medical advice related to Covid-19 from official sources only, such as the MHRA or NHS Scotland.

Find official sources of information reflecting the most recent guidance and advice on PPE and testing kits on our website.
HSE Email Scam
A Scottish consumer reported a fake email from HSE to Neighbourhood Watch Scotland this week through their ALERT system.
The email advised that the consumer's business was being investigated for breaking guidelines and that the nominator would remain anonymous until the court hearing. A spreadsheet was attached, supposedly containing more details about the case.
The consumer contacted HSE, who confirmed that the email was a scam.

What to Do
  • If you receive a similar email, do not click on any links or open any attachments. If you do, your details could be harvested by scammers.
  • The National Cyber Security Centre has launched a Suspicious Email Reporting Service to make it easy for people to forward suspicious emails to them, including those related to Covid-19.

Find more information about avoiding cyber scams and links to official guidance on staying safe online on our website.
Illegal Money Lending Unit
Loan Sharks
This week is Loneliness Awareness Week - we know that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on people’s mental health and financial resilience. Loan sharks may try to take advantage of this by offering a quick fix to money worries, but they cause long-term misery and can put you and your family in danger.
If you feel that you have nowhere to turn, please remember that you are not alone. 
The Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit's free and confidential 24-hour hotline will remain open 7 days a week throughout the lockdown period - call 0800 074 0878 or fill out our online reporting form.
Find links to more organisations that can help through our webpage.
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.
Copyright © 2020 Trading Standards Scotland, All rights reserved.

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