Police in Northern Ireland have warned that the roll-out of a GBP100 high street voucher scheme has paved the way for scams. Under the scheme launched on Monday morning, people across Northern Ireland are able to apply for a GBP100 pre-paid 'Spend Local' card to use in local businesses, in a bid to help retailers recover. So far, around 500,000 people have applied for a voucher, which is valid until the end of November.
However, scammers have allegedly taken advantage with cold callers reported in North Down claiming to be able to help people apply for a voucher. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it has received a handful of reports of cold calls relating to the voucher scheme. PSNI superintendent Gerard Pollock told the BBC: "What they [the scammers] are presenting as or what they are telling the member of the public is that they're going to apply to the scheme for them, take their details and then they will receive the GBP100 voucher to their home address.
"There is no process to do that and there will be no one officially from the Department for the Economy or any official person calling at your home address to take your details in order to register you for the scheme. "If you're contacted out of the blue, either by phone or by text or by someone you don't know, seeking to get you enrolled for the scheme, that's a clear sign that it might be a scam." Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: "I will work with the police and my own department will continue with our communication plan to help prevent this and get that message out there that you do not have to give over bank details in any way."
Commissioner for older people Eddie Lynch warned people to "be vigilant", adding: "Nobody will call at your door about this, nobody will ask for bank details, so just ignore them."