News

Covid-19 scams

Criminals use any opportunity to trick people into parting with their money. The Coronavirus pandemicis no exception.

Take Five to stop fraud
Think before responding to unexpected letters, phone calls, emails or texts.
Be wary of messages and posts on social media.

The following is details of some of the scams reported:

Doorstep crime

  • Callers claiming to be able to undertake a test for Covid-19, either for a fee or as a way of gaining entry to carry out theft.
  • Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.
  • Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Online scams

Including emails, texts, social media and What’s App messages

  • Scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by
    • claiming to be from the Department for Education, asking for bank details to receive support in place of free school meals
    • claiming to be from the government or HMRC offering a refund or grant
    • claiming to be from the government and issuing a fine for leaving your house
    • offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
    • offering a voucher from a well known supermarket to help during the epidemic.
  • Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.

Refund scams

  • Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.

Counterfeit goods

  • Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.

Telephone scams

  • As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.

Donation scams

  • There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for
    • a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.
    • supplies for the NHS or other services

Loan sharks

  • Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence

Investment Scam

Encouraging people to invest or to move their pensions or invesments to take advantage of the downturn caused by the pandemic

STOP

Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.


CHALLENGE

Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.


PROTECT

Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

#Scamaware

KFRS customer promise consultation

Fire service personell

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) are consulting on their Customer Promise

KFRS exist to help keep you safe whether at work, home or as you move around Kent and Medway. They deliver services for everyone working and living in our changing community. They aim to give people advice and support in order to reduce the risk of fire and other emergencies as they go about their daily lives. Of course, accidents still happen and they aim to provide an excellent emergency response when it is needed, meeting the needs of every individual involved.

The KFRS customer promise sets out what you are entitled to expect from them, and what they expect from our staff. It also outlines the standards that they have set in the key areas of service that they know are important to you. And because a statement is simply a statement, you will find quantifiable targets by which their performance can be measured in their action plans. Above all, it is their commitment to provide you with an assured level of service, giving you the peace of mind that they are working to help you stay safe in your home, at work and when you’re out and about in Kent and Medway.

There when you need them

  • Everyone in Kent has a right to expect an excellent response from Kent Fire and Rescue Service.
  • They will always seek to innovate so we can deliver a service that meets changing local needs.
  • To develop a better understanding of our customers’ needs so they can provide services that fit your needs and accessible advice to help you keep yourself, your home and your business safe.

Respect, fairness, compassion

  • KFRS recognise without bias the rights, needs and dignity of others in all our contact with you.
  • They will work to see things from our customers’ perspective and treat everyone with compassion, fairness and respect
  • They will ensure all people, but particularly those with a disability; lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people (LGBT); ethnic minority people; older people; and people from minority faiths, are aware of ther services, feel confident to access them and understand how they can be adapted to meet individual needs.

Working with you to deliver good value services

  • KFRS will seek your views and listen to your feedback to help them shape and deliver services.
  • They will continue to deliver the best service they can by setting targets and honestly reviewing performance to see where they can improve.
  • They will spend public money in a way that maximises community benefits.
  • They will take a common sense approach to our work with partners including police, ambulance and public health to save money, avoid waste and build safer, resilient communities.
  • They will continue to work in a way that minimises their impact on the environment.

To listen, learn, and resolve your problems

  • KFRS will make it easy for you to contact them. 
  • Staff will listen and deal with you in a professional, friendly way, avoiding jargon and taking responsibility to resolve your issue.
  • They will respect and protect your privacy and personal data. They maintain a secure network and servers to safeguard your data against malicious activity.
  • Despite best efforts they occasionally make mistakes. When things do go wrong, they want you to feel confident that they will listen and deal with your complaint quickly and learn lessons to improve their services.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service
https://www.kent.fire-uk.org/about-us/our-customer-promise/

Enjoy bonfires and barbecues responsibly

With many spending their extra time at home in the garden we remind you to be careful and considerate when lighting bonfires and barbecues.

Please consult your neighbours before lighting a bonfire or barbecue, essential workers may need to wash clothes more frequently and smoke can aggravate some medical conditions. Neighbours may also mistake bonfire smoke as being from a property or uncontrolled fire and call the fire brigade.

Rules regarding bonfires.

You must not burn general household waste, but may burn garden waste from your own garden if this is done without causing a nuisance to others.

If there is no alternative to having a bonfire, you must:

  • Ensure that smoke does not cause a nuisance to neighbours.
  • Ensure that the smoke does not affect highway safety

and you should:

  • Avoid burning in hot weather – when neighbours are more likely to need windows open
  • Notify neighbours that you will be having a fire
  • Ensure that the fire burns quickly, rather than be left to smoulder
  • Ensure that green waste has completely dried out prior to burning
  • Ensure that the fire is not left unattended, and have a means to extinguish a fire if necessary
  • Ensure that the wind direction will take any smoke away from neighbouring properties

Burning of commercial waste

In addition to the law of nuisance, it is an offence to burn commercial waste (including construction and demolition waste), and to produce dark smoke from industrial or trade premises. No bonfires should be lit on commercial premises, except for the burning of ‘green’ landscaping waste cut down at that property.

Fire service safety advice:

  • Remember to build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences, hedges and overhanging branches.
  • Keep it to a manageable size and make sure it is evenly built so it collapses inwards as it burns.
  • Always have a bucket of water or hosepipe nearby in case of emergency. If the bonfire becomes out of control and catches foliage or property alight, call 999.
  • Be sure not to leave bonfires unattended and dampen them down fully once you’re done.

Those enjoying barbecues are also urged to do so safely, keeping cooking well away from fences, foliage and buildings even if there are no flames, because radiated heat alone can cause nearby plants or structures catch fire.  

Ashford Borough Council
https://www.ashford.gov.uk/the-environment/environmental-health/bonfires-and-wood-burners/bonfires/

Kent Fire and Rescue Service
https://www.kent.fire-uk.org/news/news-releases/april-2020/rise-in-bonfire-999-calls-linked-to-covid-19-isolation/

Stagecoach timetable changes

Stagecoach bus services and timetables are temporarily changing due to COVID-19

Following government advice to limit non-essential travel, we’re making changes to our South East services and timetables from Monday 30 March 2020.

The changes ensure that essential routes are maintained wherever possible. Please make sure you’ve got the most up-to-date information.   At the moment, the latest information won’t be available on our journey planner but click below to download the temporary timetables: 

Temporary timetables >

If you’re a key worker and need to give us feedback on our temporary timetables across West Scotland because you’re concerned they don’t meet your needs, or you have comments about social distancing you can do so here.
If you need more information about our response to COVID- 19, please visit our Coronavirus webpage
We want to reassure you that our absolute priority is to protect the safety of our customers and employees. So, we’ve introduced enhanced hygiene measures across all our buses and are encouraging the use of contactless payment, which keeps us all a little safer. You can pay by contactless with your card or device on all our buses so please go contactless if you can.

Coronovirus update

You will have seen/heard that the Government is planning to ask those over 70 to stop social contact for a prolonged period.

The Minister for Health has emphasised that the Government have not yet decided when this period should start. Starting too early will prolong the period that over 70s need to ‘self-isolate’.

Those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic lung disease and some cancers may be more suscetible to more severe affects of the virus and should take extra care to protect themselves.

For more advice on Coronavirus see our earlier post

Coronovirus latest advice

The Prime Minister, supported by the Chief Scientific Advisor and the Chief Medical Officer announced new measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) this afternoon.

No new restrictions on events were announced. Schools are expected to continue to open as normal, unless advised otherwise by local public health officers.

Stay at home guidance for coronavirus symptoms

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (See Ending Isolation section below for more information)
  • this action will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home.
  • stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.
  • sleep alone, if that is possible.
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water.
  • stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible.
  • you do not need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

Those self-isolating with mild symptoms will not be tested.

Continue to good hygiene practice

The Chief Medical Officer emphasised that the most important thing for individuals to continue to use good hygiene practice previously recommended.

Do
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Don’t
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

NHS
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

KCC Trading Standards Checked

Kent County Council has launched its Trading Standards Checked scheme for businesses in the home repair and improvement sector.

Trading Standards Checked helps protect Kent residents – especially those who are more vulnerable to doorstep callers – from criminal and rogue traders. It also supports legitimate businesses by giving them trusted accreditation to show consumers that they are legitimate and trustworthy.

Traders applying to be on the scheme are checked thoroughly. KCC has access to information and systems that no other scheme in Kent has, together with highly trained, experienced staff with a range of skills developed in their work supporting KCC Trading Standards.

Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “Trading Standards Checked is a trusted accreditation like no other for Kent traders.

“It will set businesses apart and give customers peace of mind when dealing with Trading Standards Checked traders. It’s also a simple, hassle free trader scheme that offers value for money and provides businesses with all the support they need to trade with confidence.”

KCC currently has two special offers for traders, which are available until 31 March.

Kent members of Checkatrade are offered free membership for the first year, and non-members of Checkatrade can benefit from an “early-bird” discount of 50%, which means a fee of £249 plus VAT for the year.

Consumer advice is available at:
https://tschecked.kent.gov.uk/consumer-advice

Information for traders at www.kent.gov.uk/tschecked

Kent County Council, 10 March 2020
https://kccmediahub.net/kccs-trading-standards-checked-scheme-launched745

Don’t use Paypal ‘friends and family’

PayPal customers encouraged by sellers to make payments via its ‘friends and family’ option instead of ‘goods and services’ are unnecessarily leaving themselves without payment protection – and some are even losing cash.

PayPal’s system allows users to select between making a payment for ‘goods or services’ – which comes with Buyer Protection should something go wrong – or ‘family and friends’ which is essentially a money transfer and does not offer protection.

In the last two weeks alone, we’ve spoken to several MoneySavers who have been encouraged by sellers to make payments using the ‘friends and family’ option – in some cases by online scammers.

We don’t know for certain why scammers do this, but we believe it’s because it’s harder for shoppers who’ve paid via ‘friends and family’ to get their money back. Legitimate traders can also benefit from being paid via ‘friends and family’ because those who are paid via it aren’t charged a fee, unlike with the ‘goods and services’ option.

However, the message on this is clear and simple: if someone selling you goods or a service asks you to send a friends and family payment, you should refuse. Otherwise you won’t be reimbursed if something goes wrong.

Callum Mason
MoneySavingExpert.com 10 March 2020
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/paypal-scam-victims-warn-against-fraudsters-who-ask-for–family-/