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Walsall Trading Standards - be vigilant and watch out for the COVID-19 scammers

  • 1 April 2020
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The current COVID 19 situation has been very fast moving and quickly affected our daily lives in many different ways. Social distancing rules mean we spend most of our time at home, except for when we exercise or shop for essential items.

These changes in our daily habits can leave us open to scammers. Either when we are away from the home and shopping, or more vulnerable to the online scammers from our homes and phones. It has been well documented by both government and media that many popular household products are moving out of shops very quickly.  In the last week Trading Standards Walsall have been busy investigating reports that some smaller retail outlets have been putting large increases, on certain high demand foods and goods, with some businesses stating to customers that their mark-ups are only a reflection in the increases from wholesalers.

Trading Standards Walsall are vigorously investigating these claims and in the meantime our officers are visiting and reminding retailers that if proof of sharp practice is found, such behaviour will not be tolerated.  Where sufficient evidence is gathered formal legal action will certainly be considered.

In the current climate, fraudsters are targeting the West Midlands and these criminals will try to approach us from the front door, by phone, post and online. Walsall Council is reminding the borough to be very wary of on line scammers and phishers, or people knocking on the door offering suspect services.

While you shop on line and to avoid phishing, suspicious emails or malicious attachment, Trading Standards asks you to be aware and vigilant and to ‘think before you ‘click’

Staying safe from COVID-19 scammers

  • If you are looking at making purchases on sites you don’t know or trust then make sure you do research of the company first. Especially any company offering cures or vaccines for coronavirus and fake online products claiming to cure coronavirus.
  • Be Aware at your door: While we are observing social distancing in the West Midlands – there have been reports from the region of people impersonating healthcare workers, offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus
  • Avoid anyone asking for money upfront to do your shopping or collecting medication.
  • NEVER to reveal sensitive personal and financial information OR respond to emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or requests asking for money from the police – these will be bogus.

Your bank or the police will never ask for these details over the phone.

  • BE ALERT to new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus. They can lock your phone and demand a ransom.
  • If you are looking at making purchases on sites you don’t know or trust then make sure you do research of the company first. If you do decide to make payment use, a credit card as the majority of credit card providers insure purchases made online 

You can report any suspicious activities fraud https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Ebay also has a number of sites where you can report concerns around price hikes and rogue sales.

Its Regional Intelligence Unit  can request the seller contact information as part of an investigation, they can submit a request through an online portal here referencing that seller ID and item number https://le.corp.ebay.com/LEPortal_CommunitiesLogin?country=en_GB

Follow latest info here https://go.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/covid-19_-_protecting_consumers_and_businesses

 

 

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