NTS warns criminals are using new tactics to exploit consumers amid coronavirus (COVID19)

NTS warns criminals are using new tactics to exploit consumers amid coronavirus (COVID19)

National Trading Standards (NTS) has published its 2020 Consumer Harm Report, some of which focuses on criminality as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic unfolds. The report explores how criminals are ‘adapting to changing consumer and business needs’ and warns of new tactics being used to exploit consumers. NTS predicts that, in the coming months, criminals will fraudulently offer access to future coronavirus treatments, quick-result testing kits and government support packages. Chair of National Trading Standards, Lord Toby Harris, urges consumers to report suspected criminal behaviour to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

NTS expects that emerging and future issues are likely to include:

• price gouging—particularly where demand for specific products rises rapidly, such as coronavirus treatments, instant-result coronavirus tests and other high-demands products

• online fraud—this is as a result of more consumers shopping online or using mobile apps and social media for purchases

• government initiatives—fraudsters may purport to represent the government to offer business support packages or make ‘copycat’ websites mimicking government schemes

• websites and social media accounts offering ‘miracle cures’—things to look out for are non-validated products making false claims about coronavirus, eg fake coronavirus treatments and fast-turnaround testing kits. Posts making fraudulent claims about coronavirus products can be reported to the NTS Yellow Card Scheme, accessible here

• virtual home viewings—may misrepresent the property for sale or let. This type of fraud is likely to increase if future restrictions are imposed

• fake refund websites—look out for companies falsely claiming to offer ‘assistance’ with claiming refunds for cancelled holidays, processing insurance claims or other losses from changed travel plans

• exploiting the vulnerable—this is expected to become more prominent as the virus encourages people to shield, therefore increasing loneliness and isolation

Read the full report here.

Source: New Covid-19 tactics to rip off consumers

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