Scams during Covid-19
There are new scams being discovered, often too late, all the time. This current period of anxiety for everyone is a new opportunity for scammers. People are already anxious, not just because they are struggling with the confines and restrictions of lockdown, but their health or the health of a loved one could be very much on their mind. This anxiety makes thinking rationally much harder and if someone with a dementia is anxious, this could be a recipe for disaster.
These scams are all with the intention of defrauding someone – either through identity theft, illegally accessing their bank account or getting someone to pay them money fraudulently. Currently, the most common seem to be around tax refunds, TV licensing payments, fake test kits for coronavirus, or even miracle cures and vaccines. But there are countless others that we need to be mindful of.
Through my work as a Partner and Solicitor at Nash & Co Solicitors in Plymouth, and as Chair of Trustees of Memory Matters and Moments café, I offer support to people affected by dementia on a daily basis. I spend a lot of time with these wonderful people, the people of Captain Tom (now Colonel Tom’s) generation, and hate that they are a target for scammers and others taking advantage of them.
If you care for someone with a dementia, particularly if they are still living at home, then please take action to help them.
I’ve recently been made aware of a number of concerns that the City Council and Trading Standards both have surrounding scams like this. People are actually targeting old people (and particularly those with dementia) offering to sell them coronavirus testing kits. But these are only available through the NHS, and where this is appropriate, there certainly wouldn’t be a charge for them. Scammers are also offering vaccines, cures and massively overpriced protective equipment that often turns out to be pretty ineffective.
Some of the new scams include over-priced shopping or medicine collection services. If this kind of thing is of interest, chemists will often deliver medications, or there are volunteer services to undertake shopping for people if they have no immediate friends of family who can help. These services won’t usually be charged for. And scammers are also offering to clean people’s homes of COVID-19 at extortionate rates. They’ll use scare tactics, and try to build fear in the homeowners that it’s dangerous for them to live in a home that hasn’t been cleaned by the scammers. It’s truly horrendous what some people will do and how low they will stoop.
It’s a great idea to put a notice on the inside of the front door to remind them not to answer the door to someone they don’t know. Dementia UK also recommend considering a ‘community alarm, in the form of a pendant, which the person with dementia can press if they feel concerned by a caller’.
If you’re concerned about scam phone calls, these can be blocked from the telephone itself or by contacting the telephone service provider. This can also be done for withheld or unrecognised numbers.
People will need food and possibly medication brought to them or purchased for them. They will need their utilities, but these should all be set up already. These are their absolute basic needs. Beyond that, people can decide what is essential and this will depend on what is important for them to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing. But please, be very cautious about paying for anything beyond these basics, particularly if you are going online, or purchasing anything from a seller that they are not familiar with. And always be very careful who is given access to their sensitive personal and financial information too.
If in doubt, contact the police if you or a loved one is in immediate danger. If you’re aware of a scam having taken place, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. And if money has been lost fraudulently, contact the bank and ask them for help.
If you have any other questions about caring for people with Dementia please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, Hilary Cragg, at Nash & Co Solicitors on 01752 827047 or email email@example.com.
During this stressful time of COVID19, be well and safe, including safe from scams.