Highland Council Trading Standards Issues Advice on COVID-19 Scams

In the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Highland Council Trading Standards are issuing a warning to the public about a series of new scams related to the virus.

One is an email claiming to be from the government, offering a tax rebate to support people through this challenging period. 

The email, which looks official, informs the recipient of the rebate amount and requests that you click a link to receive it.

The recipient is then asked to fill in personal details, including their credit card number and address. 

These details allow the scammer to take money directly from the recipient’s bank account.

In another email-based scam, claiming to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The email, claims to hold crucial coronavirus safety advice, it has an attachment which downloads a keylogger, allowing scammers to follow the online movements of the user, and in doing so gain access to the device and personal details.

Mark McGinty, Trading Standards Team Leader states:

“Although we have not received any information to suggest a member of the Highland community has fallen victim to such scams, it is clear that the wider picture is showing us that the scammers have arrived and are here to take advantage of the situation.

“The onset of scammers in Highland is not expected to be any different from other parts of the country, as such, we are working with our partners and will be distributing messages across all media platforms, identifying the most recent scams to inform the public. 

“The advice as ever is if in doubt, check it out. 

“Please don’t enter into something you are not sure about.”

Partner activity includes Citizens Advice Scotland who have a scam checker which you can access by visiting their website.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have stated it will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment.

And it will take direct enforcement action in appropriate cases.

Mark McGinty also states:

“I’d urge the public to be extra vigilant at this time, scams come in all forms and scammers have no conscience, they are unscrupulous, well organised, and will stoop to no low to get your money. 

“The situation is evolving all the time and Highland Council Trading Standards will be doing its best to keep the public informed.”

Members of the public wishing advice on a particular matter can