COVID-19 scams set to strike fear in Scotland’s older people

A SCOTTISH housing provider has issued guidance encouraging customers to be vigilant to scams emerging amid the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Bield is asking customers to be mindful of scammers looking to exploit vulnerable individuals who have worries and fears around the spread and impact of coronavirus over the internet and on email.

Lynne Douglas, Chief Executive at Bield, said: “We have put guidance together on a variety of ways our customers can reduce their risk of falling for scams created by individuals looking to prey on people’s worries.

“It’s important people only use official sources of information, that they do not share any personal information online and continue thinking logically. Criminals continually change their methods and are becoming more sophisticated in the way they are able to capitalise on the public’s fears.

“Fraudulent emails tend to be highly convincing even when they are about something unrealistic - an example of this is a scammer who may suggest you can buy a COVID-19 cure over the internet.

“Another method has involved scammers targeting charitable donations to relief centres. Before making any proposed donations, we’d encourage customers to double check the charitable status.

“By simply doing an extra check of the email address or URL link before continuing with the activity it will significantly reduce the risk of an individual being caught out.

“These extra steps and precautions may seem an added stress at this time. However it is better to be safe than sorry and is an additional way to ensure you don’t let fear cloud your judgement.

“We can never be too safe so hopefully our guidance will help our customers think a bit more logically when online in the coming months.”

Bield have issued the following steps as things to look for and precautions to take when assessing an email or website:

  1. If an email is unexpected or in any way unusual, do not click on any links or open attachments.
  2. Email addresses can be spoofed to appear as though an email is from someone you know. Check email addresses and telephone numbers, particularly when changes are requested. If in doubt request clarification from an alternatively sourced email address or phone number.
  3. Many scam emails have poor grammar, punctuation and spelling.
  4. Is the design and overall quality what you'd expect from the organisation the email is supposed to come from?
  5. Is it addressed to you by name, or does it refer to 'valued customer', or 'friend', or 'colleague'? This can be a sign that the sender does not actually know you, and that it is part of a scam.
  6. Does the email contain a veiled threat that asks you to act urgently? Be suspicious of words like 'send these details within 24 hours', ‘I am stuck overseas and my money has run out’ or 'you have been a victim of crime, click here immediately'.
  7. Look at the sender's name. Does it sound legitimate, or is it trying to mimic someone you know?
  8. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It's most unlikely that someone will want to give you money or give you access to a secret part of the Internet.

A designated e-mail address Hello@bield.co.uk and phone number 0131 273 4000 has been set up to deal with queries and questions during the Coronavirus crisis.

To find out more about Bield and its developments, visit www.bield.co.uk  or follow on Facebook @bieldhousingandcare and Twitter @BieldScotland