Scottish charity Age Scotland are reminding people not to give out money or card details to strangers to prevent potential scams in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
With new government emergency legislation keeping the public in their homes, the charity advises Scots to be wary of those offering to take money for shopping, encouraging people only to trust registered charities or people they know.
The advice comes after reports of people attempting to take personal and financial information over the phone and on email.
Police in England said criminals are claiming to provide medical guidance, investment opportunities or a safe place to transfer or keep money using Covid-19 as a cover story, The Telegraph reported.
Unsuspecting victims are then handing over financial details to the thieves or clicking on links which may contain dangerous malware.
How to help during the coronavirus outbreak
Those wishing to help out their community should get in touch with pre-established groups or charities.
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland said: ‘It’s disgusting that anyone would try to take advantage of older people at this time, but sadly there will always be heartless scammers who prey on the most vulnerable in our society. Older people are already the most targeted group for fraud and scams, and this can have a devastating impact on victims. Not only can they lose a lot of money, but they may also lose their confidence and feel too embarrassed to confide in family and friends.
‘Older people may be feeling especially vulnerable at this time, with many choosing not to go out and socialise as much as they would normally. While there are plenty of well-meaning people who wish to help out neighbours, we would always advise people not to give money, personal details or bank cards to a stranger. IF someone claims to be from a company, community group or charity, ask for ID or call the organisation’s number from the phone book to check.
‘We know many people would like to offer support but may not know any older neighbours or relatives. We’d encourage them to get in touch with a local charity or community group to donate their time or money.
‘If you are concerned about yourself or an older relative, then please call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222.”
What to watch out for
The public are urged to also be wary of potential online scams with Action Fraud warning that many scammers will exploit a tragedy or a crisis.
The advice coming from the fraud reporting group is to be wary of suspicious emails and avoid clicking on links and attachments, ensure the latest software is installed on all devices and carry out research before making purchases online.
This research should include looking at reviews from other shoppers and googling the company name with the words ‘fraud’ or ‘scam’.
They also reiterate not to give money, personal or financial details to anyone they don’t know or completely trust.