Trading standards - Coronavirus
The Trading Standards service is still operational and responding to service requests from businesses and the public whilst ensuring the latest government guidelines are being followed. We are committed to meet statutory regulations and will continue to carry out duties to protect public health, public safety and animal welfare at this time.
On this page you can find out more about:
- Business closures and restrictions
- Pricing concerns
- How to avoid scams
- Report a scam or a business acting unfairly
- Known coronavirus scams
- Scams training resources
- Work carried out by Environmental Health and Trading Standards Officers
If you are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can have this information translated via contactSCOTLAND-BSL, the online British Sign Language interpreting service.
The annual Shut Out Scammers campaign commences on 15th June and concludes on 26th June 2020. The campaign is coordinated by Police Scotland in partnership with Trading Standards Scotland and this year focusses on doorstep crime. We are supporting the campaign via our Twitter and Facebook accounts where updates and guidance are posted regularly.
Here are links to bulletins that will keep you up to date with most recent scams including coronavirus related scams:
- Trading standards crime and scams bulletin
- Cyber resilience COVID-19 bulletin
- Scam Share weekly bulletin - Trading Scotland Standards
The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 put in place restrictions on which businesses may remain open to the public. For advice on how the restrictions on business may affect your business view:
- Support for businesses
- Check if your business can still operate
- Social distancing for businesses
- Guidance for village halls and community centres (pdf 101KB)
Businesses are obligated to display prices under The Price Marking Order 2004. Prices must be unambiguous, easily identifiable, clearly legible and must be on or within the immediate vicinity of a product. Businesses failing to do this may be committing an offence under The Price Marking Order 2004, a matter which can be investigated by the service.
There have been wide reports of profiteering during the coronavirus outbreak. It must however be recognised that some items may increase in price due to increased cost for businesses when there is a limited supply.
To avoid scams:
- don’t click on links or open attachments in emails and text messages unless you are sure they are from a legitimate source - scammers will go to great lengths to make their communications with you look genuine
- don’t let anyone into your home without verifying their identity and checking they have official documentation or ID card
- you shouldn’t ever give out personal or financial information over the phone
- only purchase goods online from trusted and legitimate retailers and if you have one, use a credit card as this will offer you greater insurance
You can report a scam via Advice Scotland Direct. You can also report a business behaving unfairly during the coronavirus outbreak on the GOV.UK website.
It is always important to be aware of scams but now more than ever you need to be alert as you may find you are seeing more of them as situation with the coronavirus continues. Scams can manifest in many ways – via the post, telephone call, text message, online, by email and on your own doorstep. Many individuals have found themselves in an unprecedented situation working from home or not being able to work at all and as more of us self-isolate and adhere to the lockdown and social distancing rules it also sadly provides an opportunity for scammers to target you when you are at your most vulnerable.
Here are some of the known scams to look out for:
- Anti-virus kits, cures, hand sanitisers and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Banks and council services
- Coronavirus maps
- Loan sharks
- Common coronavirus scams in Scotland
We would urge the public to be vigilant about products which appear to be making misleading claims, or falsely describing goods or services in relation to the outbreak, for example offering products or services that can cure COVID-19.
There has been reports of fake hand sanitisers, face masks and COVID-19 swabbing kits sold both online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde) which was banned for human use in 2014.
Products must be labelled correctly and are required to go through robust testing to ensure they are safe. Any claims that are made regarding the effectiveness of them must be substantiated.
There are no CE-marked home testing kits legally available and as such it is illegal to supply such products. View government guidance on testing kits.
There are genuine charities providing support but ask to see ID before handing over money or letting anyone into your house. Beware of thieves extorting money from residents claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 vaccine.
A resident reported that they received an unsolicited telephone call purporting to be from their bank and was informing that all transactions had to be completed online or by telephone now that the bank was closed. This was untrue and the scammer managed to obtain a quantity of money from the resident. Banks remain open, although some may have reduced hours or introduced measures to ensure they are meeting the social distancing rules to keep customers and their staff safe. If in doubt contact your bank using the contact details they supplied you with, not those the caller has asked you to use.
Residents have reported receiving unsolicited email from Aberdeenshire Council demanding payment of rent arrears.
Fake online resources such as 'Coronavirus Maps' can deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example of a website that has deployed malware is 'corona-virus-map[dot]com'.
Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence.
View the work that Environmental Health and Trading Standards Officers have been doing to keep people safe and support businesses in this short video: