West Yorkshire Trading Standards weekly update on COVID-19 related scams – week 1, June 2020
The current pandemic has seen a huge increase in the need for PPE, particularly face masks across the world. Unfortunately fraudsters have been quick to react and bring to the market many products which don’t meet the stringent safety standards expected of them.
There are 3 different types of mask…
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) (May also have a valve fitted). Only masks designed to protect the wearer are PPE. These should be kept available for those in high risk medical environments and other roles where PPE is a necessity.
- ‘Surgical’/‘Medical’ masks designed to limit the transmission of infection. Mainly provides protection for others from the wearer. These are often used by medical staff and patients.
- General face coverings (including homemade masks and coverings). Intended to reduce the risk to the public but not the individual. These are for use by the general public.
How to spot a fake PPE mask:
- The mask or packaging should have the name and address in the EU of its manufacturer or importer.
- The ‘CE’ mark should be present alongside a 4 digit number this identifies who assessed the safety of the product.
- The mask or packaging should be marked with ‘EN 149:2001+A1:2009’
- The mask or packaging should state either ‘FFP2’ or ‘FFP3’. If products are only marked as ‘KN95’ or ‘N95’ without the above information they are unlikely to have had their safety correctly assessed.
Scams trending regionally in West Yorkshire and nationally:
- Fraudsters have set up a fake website, impersonating the NHS website. The website contained numerous links that claimed to offer updates about COVID19. But clicking on the links prompted the user to download and save a file called COVID19.exe. This file contains information stealing malware.
- Action Fraud reports an increase in emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claiming that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution.
- An increase in reports of scam callers claiming to be from NHS Test and Trace service asking for payment details in order to purchase a test kit. Currently, coronavirus test kits are provided by the NHS, so they are therefore free of charge. NHS contact tracers will call you from 0300 013 5000 or send you a text message from ‘NHS’. NHS contact tracers will never ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind and they won’t ask for details about your bank account. Contact tracers will not ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else. Finally, they won’t ask you to call them back on a premium rate number (starting 09, or 087).