Fraudsters posing as contact tracers are targeting the elderly and vulnerable
Charities are warning people to look out for Test and Protect scams after reports of “despicable” fraudsters conning elderly and vulnerable people into paying for tests.
It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed in her daily coronavirus briefing that cold callers are attempting to cash in on the crisis, either by telling people they need to pay for tests or by obtaining their financial details for fraudulent purposes.
In many cases, the scammers pose as contact tracers and try to persuade people to divulge their bank details or other personal information on the phone.
Age Scotland said older people can be disproportionately at risk from such scams, and are especially likely to be targeted by fraudsters.
Brian Sloan, the charity’s chief executive, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that anyone would try to use the Test and Protect scheme to exploit people and con them out of their money. However unfortunately there will always be heartless scammers who prey on the most vulnerable in our society.
“Not only are older people more at risk of serious illness from coronavirus and extremely anxious about it, but they are disproportionately likely to be targeted by fraudsters and fall victim to this type of crime. It’s all too easy for someone to let their defences down and be talked into paying for a test or divulging financial information.
“Genuine contact tracers will never ask for payment or any financial or confidential details. If you have any concerns, you can always hang up and call back on the official number (0800 030 8012), ideally from another phone or after waiting to make sure the line is clear.”
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) urged anyone who thinks they might have been scammed to contact their local bureau for advice. CAS financial health spokesperson, Myles Fitt, added: “These scams are usually about extracting money, often from the most vulnerable, and we echo the First Minister’s comments - the Test and Protect service will only ask about people’s movements and contact with others, nothing else.
“Never give out financial information and if you have any concerns that you might have been scammed visit www.cas.org.uk for the contact details of your local Citizens Advice Bureau.”