As if the past year has not been tumultuous enough with the effects of COVID 19. The stockpiling of food, the fights for toilet paper, neighbour falling out with neighbour over breach of lockdown! We have seen the best and indeed the worst in people. However, there is a new emerging side effect of COVID. Much more sinister some may argue than basic greed over pasta and toilet paper. This ugly side effect is phone scams. Preying on those most scared of the virus or even those strongly affected by the impact of self-isolation. Sadly, the desperation of some people has been spotted by scammers and is being exploited.
The main scam that seems to be circulating now is impersonating government workers urging people to buy masks and hand sanitisers for a vastly inflated price. Of course, to some people, this will stick out like a sore thumb, but we must not underestimate the vulnerability of others when receiving these scam phone calls. If anything, good has come from the Pandemic it is to remember to be kind, we are all in this together. These scam calls can be relentless and leave the receiver feeling trapped and anxious in their own home. For those self-isolating unable to leave that environment must be truly suffocating. It is also worth bearing in mind scammers may ask you to reveal personal information about yourself, through links on a text message or indeed over the phone. As a rule of thumb, you will rarely be asked for security information by phone call and even less likely by text. If in doubt call the number of the supposed company ringing you and ask for clarification of the authenticity of the call. They will know whether they are doing routine phone calls or texts and if not can warn you against further contact with the scammer’s number.
Do not despair, there is help at hand! You can contact the National Trading Standards who can install a call blocker on nuisance calls. This will automatically stop any scam phone calls and you can be left in peace without the frequent scaremongering. You can also use this to help anyone else you think it could benefit. Living through such an extraordinary time with the added anxiety is unnecessary weight no one needs right now.
For those self-isolating or particularly worried about the virus be careful what you read in the news or even restrict your exposure to the grim daily updates. Instead, try to enjoy this time, you are living through history after all! Call a friend, make banana bread, and remember that better days are coming.