Welcome back – Coronavirus update, 6 April 2020

Last updated: 9.01am, Monday 6th April 2020 by

Thanks for taking the time to visit us to see what’s happening. Things have moved on since our last update on 28 March 2020. We’re not repeating everything that has appeared here previously, so here is the latest news.

As the Coronavirus outbreak accelerates, all of us need to take action now to save lives. Sadly 218 Scots have lost their lives to date, with 3,345 testing positive, and we’re told that it’s not yet known when the peak of this epidemic will be with us.

We have implemented home working and continue to transact essential work safely. This is tried and tested and means we can continue to deliver our core services with little interruption. That means that we’re still open - it’s just our London Road office that’s closed. Manage your tenancy at the touch of a button, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week! Do that through our mobile self-service app. Alternatively you can either e-mail or phone directly any of our staff. All our contact details are listed in the ‘about’ section of our web site under ‘our staff’. Unlike the app, they don’t work 24 hours a day, so please be patient. Please avoid posting letters to us in the meantime as it will take longer than normal for us to reply. Unsure who at Thenue to contact? Then either phone 0141 550 3581 or e-mail admin@thenuehousing.co.uk

All our staff have adapted to home working without loss of service or opening times and our digital approach is proving to be invaluable in keeping us open for business. For dangerous and emergency issues however, we’re still out and about, in person, looking after tenancy issues. So too are our contractors. Work carried out in your home, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, continues, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. It is important to ensure that Public Health guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work will be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency gas or plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. No work will be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild. All face-to-face viewing and general appointments have been suspended while the government’s advice is to stay at home. Routine property inspections have been deemed unnecessary at present and will not be carried out. This will be reviewed should that advice change.

Scams and fake news
With large parts of the population at home, social media use has increased dramatically. Unfortunately so to have opportunities for you to be the subject of a scam.

Thieves tricked a 92-year-old woman into believing her neighbour had died of coronavirus so they could raid her home. They knocked on her door, lied about the death and offered to clean the house. They presented themselves as a "helping hand" but they stole a purse, money and jewellery.

A coronavirus conman barged into the home of an 83-year-old woman claiming he was "from health and safety" and needed to check her property. The thief demanded £220 from the lady, who has dementia and was following guidance to stay at home amid the outbreak. Luckily he left empty-handed after she told him she only had 20p in cash with her.

Years-old doorstep crimes and frauds are being revised to steal from people left alone and vulnerable by the coronavirus restrictions. Modern scams are rife:-

• Beware of emails, SMS, and WhatsApp messages from unknown sources with information on coronavirus. Often hackers impersonate legitimate organisations and people to make their messages more believable.
• With many people waiting on home delivery of essential items, hackers are impersonating delivery services. Their goal: to trick you into clicking malicious links or con you into paying extra ‘delivery’ fees.
• Extortion attempts. Criminals threaten to infect people with coronavirus unless you pay them. Often these threats include a small piece of personal information to make it more believable.
• Malicious apps purporting to give you useful information on coronavirus, these apps enable the crooks to access all the information on the device – and even hold you to ransom.
• Malicious documents. These documents claim to contain coronavirus-related information. Upon opening them you’re asked to ‘enable editing’ and ‘enable content.’ Doing so installs malicious software onto your computer.

In the current situation, many people are lowering their guard to phishing attacks and scams. We’re all more anxious, more eager for information, and therefore less likely to question something that could be suspect. For all ‘unusual’ e-mails, a simple, but effective, step is to always look at the actual email address used to send the email, not just the display name. (If you’re on a mobile device click on the display name to reveal the real email address.) The email is a variation of so-called “sextortion” scams, where people are blackmailed with the threat of an X-rated photos being sent to their family and friends. The volume of coronavirus email scams nearly tripled in the past week, with almost 3% of all global spam now estimated to be Covid-19 related. Attackers are increasingly impersonating the World Health Organization (WHO).

The email spam campaigns are typically designed to obtain individuals’ personal information, which can then be used by criminals to steal funds. However, the range of different scams is far wider than rogue emails. Criminals will use the telephone, text messages, email, post or knock at your door. People may knock at your door selling fake test kits or fake cures. People will claim to be acting for the Council or Thenue, saying we need contact details in case of emergency. Neither the Council nor Thenue will actually do that, and if have a reason to, will all carry identification. The lengths that some criminals will go to is proving quite extraordinary.

Last week, the Department for Education warned of a scam email asking parents of children eligible for free school meals for their bank details, so that their child could still receive meals during school closures. One scam is aimed at those home-schooling their children, with an email claiming if they currently receive free school meals, they can ensure support continues by replying with their bank details. Another comes in the form of a text message that says all UK citizens are due Covid-19 Relieve payment and must click a link and enter their postcode and card details to receive it. There is no such scheme offering these payments.

Thieves have started knocking on doors claiming to be from the NHS or local GP surgeries offering tests for Covid-19. There is no such initiative being run, they are simply trying to take advantage. Scams so far reported include:
• Fake advertisements for protective masks
• Fake advertisements for sanitising gel
• Fake advertisements for vaccines (these do not currently exist).
• Screen shots of fake or sensational news, photos and video and unorthodox ways to gain protection, in reality designed purely to spread panic and gain clicks.
• Appeals from fake charities (either with made-up names, or fraudsters impersonating real charities) for donations
• Fake offers of one-off payments from the government

In the case of the fake advertisements, hopeful customers make payments for the items, often by bank transfer, never to see the products they have ordered, nor their money, ever again. The links and email attachments generally lead to fraudulent websites which request your confidential details, or malware infections on the computer or other device you use to view them.

The best way for you to protect yourself is to remain vigilant and take extra precautions before clicking on any unsolicited emails, texts or answering calls. Make sure your computer, mobile phones and tablets are supported by the latest security updates, and consider installing antivirus software to minimise threats. And if you need assistance, then here at Thenue we can help you with that also. Just phone or e-mail any of our ‘CLIC’ Team.

Essential deliveries have now begun for our most vulnerable Thenue residents who are most at risk of being severely ill if they contract coronavirus have started to receive home deliveries of essentials. Those who are shielding have begun receiving letters from the chief medical officer, highlighting support and setting out how they can stay safe. Among the support on offer is a text message service to help organise deliveries of medicine and food. Those who received the correspondence this last week and signed up to the text service have been given the option to begin weekly deliveries of essential foods including soup, pasta, rice, fruit and vegetables, tea and coffee and biscuits, as well as toiletries. Other measures which are being put in place include the delivery of specialist medicines - including chemotherapy drugs. If you have received a letter, please sign up. The new services are for those without support structures around to help. People with specific forms of cancer, severe respiratory conditions, certain rare diseases, recipients of organ transplants, those on immunosuppression therapies and pregnant women with congenital heart disease.

Many people will have support from friends and family but not everyone will. That’s where we come in. Here at Thenue, although our two Community Halls are closed, our staff are still doing all we can to support our residents. In Netherholm, we are working with local volunteers to develop a food delivery system and in Calton, we are collecting shopping and prescriptions for our most vulnerable residents. Even if you don’t live in Calton or Netherholm, if you require any support that you think we can help with, please call Ross and Rosie on 0141 550 9573 anytime and if we can’t answer just leave a message and we’ll get back to you or you can text 07816 330 897 or email Rosemary.Robertson@thenuecommunities.co.uk. Please know that we are right here for you if we can help.

Our usual contact telephone numbers and email addresses will remain in use and you should see little impact on response times. We will issue further updates as more information becomes available.