OXFORDSHIRE residents have been warned to be on their guard against scammers exploiting the coronavirus situation.

The county council's Trading Standards team has received reports of scams targeting people via emails, text messages, and on the doorstep.

Scams include: 

  •  People offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus
  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus
  • Emails offering a refund on council tax or utility bills
  • Mobile phone apps that claim to give updates on the virus, but instead lock the phone and demand a ransom
  • People offering to do shopping or collect medication, asking for money upfront and then disappearing
  • People offering home cleaning services

Banks and police will never ask for account details over the phone.

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Councillor Judith Heathcoat, the county council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "It is hard to believe that some people will look to take advantage of the situation our country is facing, but unfortunately this is a reality.

"Where possible, Trading Standards will pursue and tackle these despicable individuals, but preventing people becoming victims in the first place is key."

Jody Kerman, head of Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards, added: "Action Fraud has recently reported that coronavirus-related fraud reports have increased by 400 per cent in March. 

"These scams come in many different guises so, before taking any action or agreeing to an offer: stop, 'take five', and discuss with a trusted friend or family member."

If you think you have been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.