Beware of Coronavirus Scams
South Tyneside Council is urging people to remain vigilant during the coronavirus pandemic as criminals target residents with a range of scams.
Communities are being warned of potentially fraudulent activity such as doorstep crime, online and telephone fraud, phishing emails, loan sharks, counterfeit goods and price hikes on essential household items.
As more people stay at home, doorstep crime is on the rise. Be aware of people offering or selling virus testing kits, vaccine or miracle cures, overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself from coronavirus such as anti-bacterial products and shopping, medication collection or cleaning services.
Members of the public should only accept help and support from people they know or from trusted sources and are advised not to pledge money to support the coronavirus cause unless there is confirmation that the money is going to a trusted charity.
If you receive an unexpected text, email or phone call asking for personal or financial details, do not click on the links or attachments and do not give away any personal information unless you are sure the call is genuine.
Residents are also advised not to place signs in their windows saying that they are self-isolating as this may attract people who are looking to prey on vulnerable people.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "It is a real shame that at such a worrying and unprecedented time mindless criminals are seeking to benefit from the public's concern and uncertainty over COVID-19.
"Targeting members of the public, including some of our most vulnerable residents, is a heartless act and we must do all we can to stop these criminals from exploiting communities any further.
"I urge members of the public to look out for signs of neighbours being targeted by doorstep criminals as well as yourselves. Please look out for each other and report anything that seems suspicious.
"There will also be lots of rumours and misinformation circulated at this time, so please only pay attention to information from trusted sources such as gov.uk, NHS websites and the council's website and social media channels. If you are unsure whether to accept offers of help, speak to family members or friends beforehand."
If someone has been targeted by a scam it can be reported to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/.