A north-east trading standards team has recorded a 30% increase in the number of scams detected in the region.
Aberdeenshire Council’s trading standards department said there’s been an increase in the number of reports received by the team.
However, it is unclear if this is a result of a range of new scams, or whether more crimes have been encountered due to people spending more time at home.
In 2020, Trading Standards Scotland said the top scams reported included fake calls or texts involving fraudsters pretending to be bank workers, HMRC fake government emails or texts offering grants or tax refunds, and phishing calls from people claiming to be from Amazon, the DVLA, TV Licensing and more.
Others include scam or cloned websites selling in-demand items which are either fake or non-existent, doorstep scams with cold callers offering overpriced or unnecessary services or posing as NHS staff.
Counterfeit goods have also been sold online, misleading energy marketing linked to government grants have been uncovered as well as an increase in illegal puppy farming, due to a rise in demand for dogs during lockdown.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “Reported scams have increased by over 30% in the previous year, although it is unclear whether this is a result of new scams being developed, or if people are encountering scams more often while working from home/on furlough.
“Our advice is to always stop and think before responding to any calls or messages. If there is any indication that it may be a scam, you should ignore the contact and report it.
“If the contact is from a familiar company, you should never use the contact details provided in a text message or follow any links you have received. Instead, use contact details from a trusted source – for example, the number on the back of their bank credit or debit card.
“Residents are encouraged to report any scams to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.”
The most reported scams in Scotland over the past year have related to Covid-19 vaccines, contact tracing, misleading information and the sale of fake PPE.
Covid-19 vaccinations are free for everyone in Scotland, and health boards will never ask for bank details or payment, and will not ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as passports.
NHS workers will also not show up at your house without an appointment.
Graeme Paton the Trading Standards Manager for Aberdeen City Council said: “We are not aware of anyone in Aberdeen city who has fallen for one of the vaccines scams. However, we know these fraudsters exist and everyone should be vigilant to ensure they do not fall for one of them.
“We have seen a change in the types of scams taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is widespread use of text and email messages which replicate the NHS Scotland website.
“Fraudsters will look for any opportunity to prey on the concerns of the public.
“Reports throughout the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic indicate that they have exploited opportunities around testing, contact tracing and vaccinations to trick people into parting with their cash.”