People are being warned to beware of COVID-19 scams and rogue traders this month.
There have been reports of scam phone calls where people are being offered face masks, cleansing gel and gloves.
One resident was offered these products and the caller asked for her address then stated the cost would be £29 and asked for her bank details. People should not give their bank details over the phone in this way.
People are also being warned about funeral burial scams. A Greater Manchester resident received a phone call from someone alleging to be from the local council bereavement service.
The caller stated their payment had been declined by the funeral director and that they needed to make a payment over the phone and would need to give their card details. The scammer claimed if payment was not made they would cancel the funeral.
Nationally, reports have been received by Action Fraud and Trading Standards of fraudsters seeking to exploit the pandemic by claiming to be raising funds for charity. Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information. Trading standards advice is to never give money without doing research.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: “We’re continuing to see a lot of scams relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Unfortunately, the virus has opened up even more opportunities for fraudsters to con people and they are using every trick in the book to do just that.
“Our advice is never to give your details over the phone, never click on links on suspicious looking, unsolicited text messages and never to give your details on a website which does not look secure or official.
“Remember to look out for the padlock, which is displayed in the address bar when you are on secure websites. Check that the sites are official, for example all Government websites should have a gov.uk address.”
There have also been reports of more rogue traders operating.
In the Chorley area an elderly person agreed to have their gutters cleaned and two ridge tiles re pointed for nearly £400. A few weeks later the same traders returned, offering to pressure wash their drive, charging a similar amount of money for a job that did not take very long.
In another case in Thornton Cleveleys, a resident agreed to have some minor roofing repairs carried out by cold callers, once the work had started the traders began to find further faults, escalating the job and the price.
Meanwhile, In the Preston area, a resident agreed to have paving work done. A deposit was paid, the work began, then further money was demanded. The trader, who did not provide any paperwork or any name or address details has since not returned.
County Councillor Atkinson added: “We continue to receive reports of cold calling traders and it’s likely they’ll be doing the rounds again following the recent windy conditions.
“You should never agree to work from cold callers on the doorstep and always do your research. Make sure you have a valid address of a trader before agreeing to a contract.
“Remember, for most contracts agreed at your home you will have 14 days cancellation rights.
“You should always try to use local known trades people, shop around and obtain three quotes, especially for larger jobs.”
If anyone receives suspicious text messages like this, they should not click on any accompanying links, and report them to Action Fraud by contacting 0300 123 2014 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk
To reduce telesales calls join the Telephone Preference Service on 03450 700707. Many telephone service providers can also offer help to reduce the number of scam calls you receive.
Trading Standards advice is to always say no to cold callers. The Safe trader scheme can help you find a trader in your area, contact 0303 333 1111 or go to www.safetrader.org.uk
You can report rogue traders, scams or get advice from the county council’s trading standards service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.