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Warning about coronavirus shopping scam as female pensioner targeted

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Police are warning the public to be vigilant after receiving report of an elderly woman being targeted by a shopping scam.

A woman in her eighties reported being called by someone claiming to be from the NHS on Monday, (20 April). The fraudster called her three times in total over the course of 10 days and asked if she needed her shopping to be done.

They then proceeded to ask if they could come collect her bank cards to pick up her pension.  Thankfully, the victim refused and no money was lost.

PC Bernadette Lawrie, Sussex and Surrey Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said:

“Criminals will exploit any opportunity possible to defraud innocent and vulnerable people out of their cash – and it’s incredibly disappointing to see that some are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak for this purpose.

“We’re asking members of the public to please remain vigilant and to share our advice with their families so we can prevent further people falling victim to this terrible scam.”

There are many people in our communities who aren’t able to get out to the shops, or to get their medication, and it’s really important that they get the support they need.

Below are some tips to consider when others are shopping on your behalf:

  • Do not engage with cold callers. 
  • Verify the person is who they say they and from the organisation they are claiming to represent.
  • Agree a maximum budget in advance
  • Ask them to purchase the items in advance and provide a receipt before making payment
  • Never hand over your credit/debit cards, PIN details to someone you don’t know

If you need assistance with shopping, please see Age UK’s website for advice and information. 

Criminals are expert impersonators who will try to trick people into giving them their money, personal information or into buying products that don’t exist by contacting you online, via the phone or even in person.

Since the coronavirus outbreak Action Fraud has received report of hundreds of scams, including phishing emails trying to deceive people into giving their personal information and online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products, which have never arrived.  

If you are approached unexpectedly remember to:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to 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 victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
  • You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
  • The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
  • Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

For more information about Operation Signature, the Force’s campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud, see the website here

To report crime, please call 101 or report online

Coronavirus

How safe is my school in Crawley? Education union launches COVID-19 map

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The National Education Union, the largest education union in the UK and Europe which represents over 450,000 members has launched a new website that they say provides ‘accurate, accessible and up-to-date information about the Covid-19 rate in the locality of every school in England.’

The site is aimed at people being able to check what the levels of Covid are around the school and whether the school is on a watch list or not.

They say the site is updated weekly, and the data will show the number of Covid-19 cases in a school’s surrounding area, the trend since last week (an increase or decrease in case numbers), whether or not the school is on a watchlist, and links to any local restrictions in place.

They add:

“In much of the country the map will offer reassurance that case numbers are quite low. In others, it will reinforce public health messaging from local authorities and Government that cases are higher. In all situations it will encourage members of the public to follow all public health guidance.

Where cases are higher, it will support head teachers in encouraging parents and other visitors to school sites to maintain social distancing and hygiene.”

Commenting on the launch, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Everyone in the education sector has worked hard to make full opening of schools, colleges and universities as successful as possible this autumn, but they have been let down by the Government which hasn’t even ensured that Covid testing has kept pace with need.

“But this website will also encourage parents to support our asks of the Government that they help to support safety in our schools and colleges.

“Parents, students and staff also need urgent answers on next year’s exams, and how fit for purpose they will be. This is in light of not only the past summer’s fiasco, but also the disruption of local lockdowns in the months ahead.”

You can check the information around your local school at their new site by clicking here.

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