Millions of elderly and vulnerable people who are staying at home under lockdown guidelines now rely on volunteers to bring them groceries - but some have expressed concerns about the safest way to pay for their shopping.
For many people who are 'shielding' from coronavirus (which means only leaving their home for medical treatment), volunteer shoppers are essential.
Dozens of people have reached out to Which? asking how they should pay volunteers or neighbours who offer to shop for them.
Here, Which? explains the different ways you can pay volunteers and shares tips to help you stay safe from the scammers who are attempting to exploit vulnerable people during the pandemic.
But if someone you don't know offers to shop for you, there's no need to be immediately suspicious. Millions of people across the country are giving up their time to shop for those who can't.
Avoid giving the volunteer your own debit or credit card to use and never tell other people your Pin number.
It's also an idea to pay for the shopping once you have it, although this may not be possible if the volunteer's own finances are tight.
Lockdown and shielding measures have made it difficult for many of the millions of people who rely on cash to withdraw any.
Even those who are able to leave their homes have faced challenges, with many bank branches having temporarily closed or changed their opening hours.
Some banks have adapted to help at-risk customers and NHS staff withdraw cash from home. And the Post Office has recently repurposed its travel money home delivery service to enable overnight cash deliveries of benefits payments from the Department for Work and Pensions.
If you're able to access cash and it's the easiest way for you to pay the person doing your shopping, make sure you hand it over in a contact-free way, such as by putting it in an envelope and leaving it somewhere for your volunteer to pick up.
It's also helpful to pay the exact amount if you can, so your volunteer doesn't need to hand you change.
Pros of paying with cash:
Cons of paying with cash:
Sending money via bank transfer is one of the payment methods that people worry about the most.
Primarily, they worry about having their details stolen and used for purchases they didn't authorise.
The risk of this happening when paying a volunteer is low, since they would need to send their bank details to you, not the other way around.
To pay someone for doing your shopping, you'll need their sort code and account number.
You can make payments via online or telephone banking if you have set these up with your bank.
If anyone asks you for your bank details, in particular your long card number and three-digit security code, say no as they could be a scammer.
Pros of paying via bank transfer:
Cons of paying via bank transfer:
Volunteer shopping cards
Tesco has now launched one of these cards, following Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Waitrose. Morrisons recommends buying its usual vouchers.
Most of these 'cards' are actually virtual vouchers, which work in the same way as other e-gift cards.
With the exception of the Co-op card, which you can order on the phone (08000 294 592), you buy volunteer shopping cards online and send the details to your volunteer's email address for them to use in store.
Your volunteer won't need to spend the full balance of the card each time they shop; the remaining amount will stay on the card, so you could load it with enough money for multiple trips if you wanted.
With Asda's volunteer card, you can also top it up on the internet, so you don't have to buy a new one each time. With others, you'll have to purchase a new e-voucher each time the balance gets used up.
If your volunteer would prefer to have a physical gift card, perhaps because they don't have access to the internet, you can order a regular gift card to be posted to them from Morrisons.
Pros of buying a volunteer shopping card:
Cons of buying a volunteer shopping card:
Payout Now is a new way to withdraw cash without leaving your home. Originally available only in Post Office branches, it's now being rolled out to banks, building societies and credit unions.
With Payout Now, you can ask your bank to send a one-time barcode via text, email or post to a trusted volunteer, who can then bring this barcode into a branch and use it to withdraw a specified amount of cash from your account.
You choose how much cash the barcode is worth and the volunteer will only be able to withdraw that amount.
Pros of Payout Now:
Cons of Payout Now:
If you bank with NatWest, RBS, Ulster Bank or Starling Bank, you can order a second bank card to give to a trusted volunteer without having to give them your normal bank card details or your PIN.
Starling's card is called a 'connected card', and it is linked to a 'space' within your current account where you set money aside. Volunteers will only be able to spend whatever you put in that 'space'.
The NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank cards are called 'carers cards', and they can be topped up with £100 every five days.
These are also linked to your current account but kept separate on the banks' systems.
While the Starling card is online-only, you can only order the NatWest, RBS and Ulster cards over the phone. This is so the bank can discuss whether this is the right option for you and tell you about their other offerings.
All of these cards are sent to your home first for security reasons, so you'll have to hand them over to your volunteer in a safe way.
Pros of banks' volunteer cards:
Cons of banks' volunteer cards:
If you have a cheque book, this could work as a way of paying volunteers.
It might be difficult for your volunteer to cash a cheque in person at the moment due to closed bank branches and the lockdown rules, but if their bank's app allows them to scan and pay in cheques remotely, this won't be a problem.
Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds and Starling all allow mobile cheque deposits.
Some banks also allow customers to deposit cheques by post.
The drawback of cheques is having to hand them over. Make sure you find a contact-free way to do this (such as putting it in an envelope and leaving it where your volunteer will leave your shopping) if you do want to pay by cheque.
Pros of paying by cheque:
Cons of paying by cheque:
We'll update this story with any more methods for paying volunteers as they emerge.
This story was originally published on 16 April and has been updated since then to include new payment options.