Businesses across Lancashire are being warned of scammers posing as officials making Covid-19 inspections after a barber in Chorley was targeted.
According to Lancashire County Council’s trading standards team, a man wearing a t-shirt with an NHS logo visited the shop, which has not been named, and said he was looking to carry out an inspection.
Despite already owning protective gear, the barbers were offered boxes of face masks, which the man said they had to purchase to make their business ‘Covid-secure’.
It’s said that he went on to also offer a deep-clean service, for an additional cost. The man was not employed by the NHS, the council or any other official body.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, LCC’s cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said in a statement that the targeted nature of this scam made it something that trading standards hadn’t seen before.
“Covid-19 related scams, such as fake emails about grants and tax rebates and requests for pre-payment for tests, have been circulating for a while,” he said.
“However, this type of very targeted scam is new to trading standards.
“If you’re in any doubt, you should check the officer’s identity by contacting the relevant council. A genuine official will always be happy to wait while a check is carried out.”
The council has confirmed that genuine district and county council officers are inspecting businesses to ensure they are complying with Covid-19 measures.
However, they will always carry photo ID, never claim or display any links to the NHS, and will not sell protective equipment or any deep clean services.
“Although businesses must be vigilant against scams, traders cannot refuse a genuine inspection by an authorized officer,” Cllr Atkinson said.
“These visits are necessary to ensure businesses are following the regulations to reduce the risk of coronavirus being spread in our community.”
The report of the bogus inspector is the latest in a number of scams in which criminals have been trying to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.
In June, we reported on the pensioner in Rossendale who was targeted by a fake test and trace call and asked to pay £500 for a testing kit.
And in March, the Department of Education warned parents who were being asked to give their bank details over email to be ‘supported’ if their children were entitled to free school meals.
Anyone with any information on Covid-related scams or who thinks they may have been a victim of a scam is asked to call trading standards on the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
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