Businesses in Preston, South Ribble, and surrounding areas are being warned to be on their guard following reports of a fake official, who claimed to be from the council, carrying out inspections of their premises.Advertisement
Lancashire County Council’s trading standards team has issued the warning following a report from a Chorley-based barber.
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A man wearing a t-shirt with an NHS logo had visited the shop claiming to be from the council and said he had to carry out a COVID-19 inspection.
He tried to sell them boxes of face masks saying that they needed to purchase them to make their premises ‘COVID-secure’, even though they already had suitable protective equipment.
He went on to say he could offer a deep-clean service for a fee.
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Traders across Lancashire are being warned to be vigilant against this type of scam.
Genuine district and county council officers are inspecting businesses to ensure they are complying with COVID-19 measures. 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.
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County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: “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.
“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.
“Although businesses must be vigilant against scams traders cannot refuse a genuine inspection by an authorised officer.
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“These visits are necessary to ensure businesses are following the regulations to reduce the risk of coronavirus being spread in our community.”
If you have any information about this scam, think you have been visited by this individual, or have any other information on the many COVID-related scams circulating at the moment, call trading standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
You may also wish to report the matter to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
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Has your business been the target of a recent scam? Tell us more in the comments below.