Stay safe

Stay Safe from Fraud

Recently the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reported a new trend in fraud related to Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Updated figures show there have been 105 reports to Action Fraud since 1 February 2020, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000.

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived. 

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Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud.

 

Beware of phishing emails

Action Fraud have received over 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details.

Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:

Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.

Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.

Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.

Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.

Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said:

“We have already seen fraudsters using the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.

“These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or appeals for you to support those who are ill or bogus charities.

“The advice is simple, think very carefully before you hand over your money, and don’t give out your personal details unless you are sure who you are dealing with.

 

Protect yourself

Watch out for scam messages

Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

Shopping online

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases. For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

Protect your devices from the latest threats

Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.

 

For information on how to update your devices, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices

 

Stay Safe from Fire 

I have put together some general advice regarding fire safety during these difficult times.

 

Section 1 is for people working from home and Section 2 is for those required to continue to work in their normal place of work, and find it necessary to leave teenage children home alone without any adult supervision.

 

If you require any further clarification on the points set out below, please do not hesitate to contact me via email:  andy@fireforceuk.co.uk

 

Section 1: Working from Home

Check your smoke alarms everyweek.

Plan your escape (leave keys in all door locks during your working day).

  • You must take special care if you have to go through the kitchen to escape.
  • You must also take special care if you are working in a location with only 1 escape route.
  • Ensure your escape route is free from obstructions.

Think about how you are going to tackle a small fire. If you have an extinguisher make sure that it is located on an escape route. Do not locate your extinguisher in a dead end location, and make sure you can easily locate it!

Check your electrical system

  • Do not overload sockets
  • You must fully unwind extension leads and do not daisy chain (connecting one extension in to another).
  • Do not pass extension cables through doorways or place them in locations where they could easily be damaged.
  • Keep electrical equipment away from combustible material, especially when charging.

Think, can you easily switch off the electrical power?

Do not light candles during the working day. 

Do not to leave cooking unattended.

NB: If you need to leave cooking unattended then set an alarm to remind you to return to the kitchen.  This should never be done if you have to escape through the kitchen.

 

Section 2: Going to work

During my time in the fire service I have attended hundreds of fires in homes where teenage children have been left home alone.  Most were related to cooking.  However the saying “the devil will find work for idle hands” is also very apt.

 

If you are still required to go out to work and are leaving teenage children home alone, you should always consider the following:

Check your smoke alarms every week.

Make sure your children can exit the building in any direction (are keys available at each door?)

Talk to your children about what to do if there is a fire, this should include

  • Their escape plan
  • What to do if they cannot get down the stairs due to a fire (consider which would be the best room for them to be trapped in if necessary)
  • Calling the Fire Service - Do they know the number to call?
  • Should they tackle a fire or not (this is age and ability dependent)
  • How to deal with electrical fires (switch off or unplug if possible)

Programme what they are going to eat and try and reduce the need for them to cook.

Make sure hob and oven are free from fat deposits and combustible materials.

Keep kitchen surfaces clear of combustible material (especially keep kitchen roll, tea towels etc. away from the hobs and open flames).

Discuss:

  • Not leaving cooking unattended (set an alarm if you need to leave the kitchen)
  • Making sure the hob and oven are fully off when cooking is completed
  • Taking care with tea towels etc. (keep away from gas hob)
  • Making sure they understand the STOP, DROP and ROLL technique (if they set themselves on fire)

Check electrical equipment (do not overload sockets; make sure they charge batteries/lap tops/mobile phones away from combustible materials e.g. bedding, table cloths, upholstered furniture.

Remove sources of ignition such as matches and lighters from the home.

Lock away highly flammable materials.

Discard or lock away any electrical equipment that is not 100% safe (think of things currently in cupboards or in the loft). 

Make sure your children know how to safely use heating equipment (think of fan heaters or gas fires).