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Don’t fall victim to a coronavirus scam

West Sussex Trading Standards is warning residents to watch out for coronavirus related scams.

Fake emails claiming to be from the government, shops selling false protective masks, and rogue traders offering coronavirus testing are some of the scams people need to be wary of.

Here are some of the most common scams to look out for at the moment:

• Be aware of people offering cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
• Home cleaning services – be aware of false claims.
• People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
• Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities, or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
• There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.

Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “As a result of social distancing, some people are more isolated than ever before and are particularly vulnerable to scams.

“I urge residents to be wary. Only open emails and attachments from trustworthy sources, don’t open the door to people you don’t know and only buy from reputable brands and businesses.”

Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “It is more important than ever for us to support our elderly and vulnerable friends and family members and help protect them against these sorts of scams.

“Even if you can’t see each other in person, make sure you stay in touch over the phone or social media and watch out for signs that the person is being targeted by a scam.”

Use the Citizen’s Advice online Scam Checker to help recognise a scam: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/

Anyone concerned about scams can get advice from the Citizens Advice Scams Action helpline on 03444 111 444.

To learn more about scams and to report fraud, visit the Action Fraud website.

You can report an incident or concern direct to West Sussex Trading Standards.

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