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Householders urged to be on guard after hundreds of fraud bids

By Deborah Hardiman | Crime | Published:

Householders who use off grid fuel are being urged to be on guard against fraudsters after hundreds of attempts.

Concerns have been raised over the emergence of new types of scams which try to take advantage of vulnerable Shropshire residents during the Covid-19 lockdown.

More than 2,000 online fraud attempts have been identified and blocked in the past month claims the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Attempts included fake online shops and websites which were set up to steal user data, and use of fraudulent adverts.

It is estimated that scams cost the economy up to £10bn each year with the average victim losing over £3,000.

In response, OFTEC, the registration body for off-grid heating, is helping to raise awareness of how households in Shropshire can protect themselves from unscrupulous activity. These include email scams which say you can obtain a refund on taxes, heating bills or other expenses.

Avoid clicking on links as they may contain viruses or direct you to fake websites which are designed to impersonate well-known organisations such as banks.

Social media offers for miracle coronavirus cures or treatments are fake and should be ignored or reported. These adverts may occasionally be mistakenly shared by a friend or family member.

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Telephone scams by criminals pretending to be calling from a bank, mortgage provider or utility company.

Do not share any financial or personal information and hang up immediately.

If you have any concerns about a call you have received, contact your provider directly.

Door knocking scams by unqualified individuals may impersonate heating technicians or other tradespeople.

OFTEC's Malcolm Farrow said: “Since the lockdown was announced, communities across Shropshire have come together to support each other during this uncertain and unsettling time. Unfortunately, a small number of individuals have sought to take advantage of the current situation and target households through scams or other fraudulent activity.

“We all need to be on the lookout for suspicious calls, emails or visitors and regularly keep in virtual touch with vulnerable family, neighbours and friends to ensure they are not being harassed in any way. If you do need to have essential work undertaken in your home, always use a qualified professional. Check their ID badge upon arrival and ensure they follow the government’s advice on social distancing at all times.”

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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