|Please find below the Latest Consumer & Business Scam alerts from Norfolk Trading Standards.
PC Pete Davison
Community Engagement Officer – North Norfolk
Consumer Scam Alerts:
Information Alert – Covid-19 and Lockdown scams to be aware of – 05 November 2020
We are reminding residents to continue to be Scam Aware following the new restrictions in England from 05 November.
Action Fraud have put together a list of scams we should all be aware of regarding Covid-19 and lockdown. These include:
- Fake Government emails offering grants and tax reductions
- Emails offering to assist with universal credit applications
- Fake track and trace emails claiming you have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19
- Fake adverts for hand sanitizers and face masks
- Fake emails offering 6 months of free TV License
- Fake online dating profiles
- Fake investment opportunities
More information on these scams and advice should you receive one can be found on the Action Fraud website
The Friends Against Scams partnership have also created a fact sheet to help raise awareness on coronavirus scams. Friends Against Scams help to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams. The fact sheet as well as information about becoming a Friend Against Scams and the free online awareness training available can be found on the Friends Against Scams website.
Scam Alert – Scam inheritance letter – 4 November 2020
A Norfolk resident has reported receiving a letter offering them the ‘opportunity’ to receive the inheritance from an estate. The letter claims that the estate comes from an ‘oil magnate’ who ‘tragically lost his life along with his immediate family during this coronavirus pandemic’.
The letter requests the recipient contacts the sender by email so that the funds can be released to them.
This letter is a scam and there is no inheritance to claim. It shows how scammers will continually update their approaches and will often tailor the story to reflect current new stories and events.
Easy ways to spot an inheritance scam letter include:
- The amount of money on offer and the percentage claimed that is available to you will be extremely large
- Letters / documents provided by the fraudsters are generally badly written with spelling mistakes and poor grammar
- Look out for webmail addresses such as @Yahoo or @Hotmail. They are freely available making them easy to set up and equally easy to shut down
- Fraudsters often claim that the person who has died was the victim of a well-publicised incident, such as plane crashes and natural disasters. To add credibility, they may even use the identity of someone who really did die in the incident.
If you receive this, or a similar letter, just recycle it after obliterating your details printed on the letter. Do not reply with personal details.
If you have received a letter which you believe to be a scam you can report it to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.
Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold callers offering ‘roofing work’ – 03 November 2020
We are warning residents to be on their guard following a cold calling incident in Norfolk this week involving roofing work.
The incident occurred in the Sheringham area and involved a man cold calling a local resident and offering to undertake repairs on their roof.
We always advise:
- Never deal with cold callers looking to undertake work on or around your property
- Never agree to have work done by somebody who is ‘just passing’ or take their word that it needs to be done at all
- Never allow a cold caller access to your home, roof or garden even if they are offering to do tasks for a small fee or free
- Never pay for work before it is completed
- When looking to have work done on or around your property only deal with reputable companies you have researched and chosen yourself and have obtained a written quotation from before commencing the work
It is possible this doorstep cold caller could move on to other areas around Norfolk.
If you see cold callers operating in Norfolk contact us through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.
If you feel intimidated or are concerned for vulnerable neighbours call 999.
Looking for a Trader you can Trust? Try a Norfolk Trusted Trader. To search our directory and read feedback from their customers visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader
Rogue Trader Alert – Cold calling incidents – 3 November 2020
We are warning residents to be on their guard after two cold calling incidents were reported in the Swaffham area this week.
In the first incident two men were reported cold calling at properties offering to undertake work on residents’ homes and gardens. They were seen to be using a yellow flatbed van.
In the second incident a young man cold called at a property claiming he was part of a ‘young offenders programme’ before showing the resident his passport as ID. He then attempted the sell the resident items from a bag he was carrying. Fortunately, the resident declined the offer and asked the cold caller to leave before reporting the incident.
Never deal with anyone who cold calls at your property offering to sell something or undertake work on your property.
It is possible these sellers will continue to move onto other locations in Norfolk.
If you see these cold callers in Norfolk, contact us through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.
If you feel intimidated or sight these cold callers and are concerned for vulnerable neighbours call 999
Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from HMRC – 28 October 2020
We are receiving reports from Norfolk residents about telephone cold calls claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Recent reports have included an automated recorded message call informing the call recipient that ‘HMRC have issued a warrant for your arrest due to tax evasion’. These calls are appearing to come from a range of different ‘spoofed’ numbers.
More information about HMRC related phishing emails and bogus contact
We always advise to be very wary of any approach made by a telephone cold call. If you receive this type of call our advice is DO NOT interact with the call and HANG UP immediately.
You can report suspected scam telephone calls to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
Scam Alert – Fake adverts for holiday accommodation – 27 October 2020
A Norfolk resident has reported losing £1165 to an online scam that advertised fake apartments to rent overseas.
The advert was posted on Craigslist by an individual who stated they were looking to rent out their apartment in Lisbon whilst they worked away. The individual asked the Norfolk resident to provide a copy of their passport before booking and sent the resident a link to process the payment. They stated this link would connect them to Airbnb and that someone from Airbnb would be in touch once the payment had been taken. However, after contacting Airbnb it became clear that this advert was not genuine, and that the resident had fallen victim to a scam.
Norfolk Trading Standards are advising Norfolk residents to be wary of fake adverts posted online and to stop and question whether it is genuine before parting with money or personal information.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have a service which allows internet users to report scam ads appearing online.
Online users have been asked to fill in the form to report any fake ads they find on online platforms such as newspaper websites, paid-for search engines or social media.
The ASA will then make contact with the relevant platform who can then work to remove the advert and prevent the advertiser publishing further scam ads.
This reporting mechanism is in response to the ever-increasing number of fake advertisements found online which spread false information and trick internet users into parting with their cash and personal information.
If you think you have been the victim of an online scam you can report this to Trading Standards via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
Information Alert – Home Repairs or Improvements? Make sure you #CHECK – 26 October 2020
We have received recent reports of residents losing money after arranging home improvement work on their property, with the trader not returning once they have been paid up front. Norfolk Trading Standards are therefore reminding consumers to think #CHECK when choosing a tradesman or business for the job.
Scam Alert – Online scammers selling pets – 22 October 2020
Criminals continue to take advantage of the demand for pets which is pushing the prices of puppies and kittens ever higher.
Earlier this year, 669 people lost a combined total of £282,686 in March and April, after putting down deposits for pets they have seen advertised online. The adverts that victims have responded to were posted on social media, general online selling platforms, specific pet selling platforms and websites.
The criminals posting these ads never have any animals to sell and will ask victims to put down a deposit for the pet to secure the purchase. They use the outbreak of COVID-19 and the current lockdown restrictions as a reason why the victim cannot come and see the animal first or pick it up. After the initial payment more and more funds will be requested to cover insurance, vaccinations and even delivery of the pet.
To help protect yourself from scams like this:
- Do your research – before purchasing anything online, including pets, look up reviews for the site, or person, you are buying from. If you’re still not sure, ask a trusted friend or family member for their advice
- Trust your instinct – if you can’t physically go to see the animal in person, ask for a video call. If the seller declines, challenge them on why. If you have any suspicions, don’t go ahead with the purchase
- Choose your payment method wisely – If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, avoid paying by bank transfer as that offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or a payment service such as PayPal
Information Alert – Friends Against Scams – 21 October 2020
It’s been four years since Friends Against Scams launched with the aim of spreading awareness of scams and looking to equip as many people as possible with the knowledge to protect others.
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams.
- Scams cost the UK economy £5 – £10 billion a year
- 53% of people over 65 have been targeted by scams
- Only 5% of scams are reported
- Statistics indicate that the average scam victim has lost over £3,000
Anybody can join Friends Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.
Every Friend Against Scams makes a difference – so what are you waiting for? Join in. Spread the word. Protect others.
Go to the Friends Against Scams website to complete their free online training session.
Scam Alert – Emails claiming to be offering large cash sums – 20 October 2020
We frequently receive reports about emails circulating claiming to be from people looking to share, move or donate large cash sums.
These emails will often contain the names of genuine people, either connected to large companies, or people who died in accidents or disasters reported in the news.
Of course, there is no money. Email offers a free way to spam out these messages to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of recipients at the press of a button. The scammers that send these emails are only looking for one or two people who respond to try and exploit for personal and financial information and then money in the form of ‘fees’ as part of the process of transferring the alleged money.
Action Fraud offer the following advice regarding this type of email and how to protect yourself:
- Don’t respond to any email like this. Delete it straight away
- Ask yourself ‘why me?’. This person doesn’t know you and has no reason to trust you with such a large amount of money
- Never travel anywhere if offered, even if it isn’t far to go. You won’t get any money and you’re putting yourself in danger
You can report suspicious emails received to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.
Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from ‘Amazon’ – 19 October 2020
We are continuing to warn residents to be on their guard for telephone cold calls claiming to be from ‘Amazon’.
In recent weeks we have received a number of reports from residents who are receiving cold calls claiming to be from Amazon. Examples of these calls include:
- Recorded message calls claiming ‘your Amazon Prime subscription is about to expire, and a payment of £79 will be automatically taken’ the call then states you can ‘press 1 to cancel the payment’
- Recorded message calls claiming your Amazon account ‘is about to be cancelled unless you update your bank details’. The call then states you can ‘press 1 to speak to customer service’
- Recorded message calls making similar claims but referencing ‘Amazon Prime Video subscriptions’
Some residents have reported receiving multiple calls within a day delivering the same message but originating from different numbers.
In previous reports, where residents have interacted with recorded message calls, they have then been connected to a person who attempts to gather personal, account or financial details.
These calls are a scam and are not connected with Amazon in any way. If you receive this or a similar call our advice is do not interact with the call, do not give or confirm any information and hang up.
If you have received a telephone cold call which you believe to be a scam you can report it to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on their freephone number 0808 223 1133.
Scam Alert – Emails claiming to be from ‘DVLA’ – 16 October 2020
We are warning about emails circulating claiming to be from DVLA.
One recent example reported by a Norfolk resident claimed that ‘Your bank has declined twice the latest Direct Debit payment’ and ‘If you will not Update your Information, your vehicle is no longer taxed’ The email goes on to provide a link to ‘Check Vehicle Status Now’.
This email is not from the DVLA and any links contained within the message are likely to go to a genuine looking fake version of the DVLA website which will attempt to gather personal and financial details.
Our advice is always be wary of claims made in unexpected email approaches and never click on links or open attachments if approached in this way.
DVLA offer the following advice to stay safe online with contacting the DVLA or if you receive something claiming to be from the DVLA:
- Only use GOV.UK. When looking for information or using our online services, double check that you are using a GOV.UK webpage so that you can be sure that you’re dealing directly with DVLA
- Scam emails: We never send emails that ask you to confirm your personal details or payment information. If you get anything like this, do not open any links and delete the email immediately
- Beware of misleading websites. Keep an eye out for potentially misleading third-party websites. These sites will often offer to help you apply for a driving licence or tax your car but are likely to charge additional fees for services that you could get for free or at a lower cost on GOV.UK
- Look out for premium rate numbers. Look out for websites offering to connect you to our contact centre, as they are usually premium rate numbers. Our contact centre numbers will only ever begin with 0300 – which costs the same as a local call
- Be mindful of what you share online. Never share images online of your driving licence and vehicle documents. This personal information could be invaluable to those looking to steal the identity of a vehicle or its owner
- Texts: We never send texts about vehicle tax refunds. Text scams often ask you to follow a link to provide credit card details. Never click on the link and delete the text straight away
You can report suspicious emails received to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.
Business Scam Alerts:
Scam Alert – Business advertising cold calls and invoices – 3 November 2020
Businesses need to watch out for telephone cold calls about payment for advertising.
A Norfolk business received a call claiming they owed payment for ‘advertising artwork’ which was to be published in a ‘UK business guide’. Despite the business owner stating they knew nothing about the advertising they requested copies of the alleged correspondence. Following this the business was sent a copy of the invoice, a copy of the artwork and the front cover from the guide magazine.
The businesses then received a further call from the same cold caller again requesting payment. When they questioned the authenticity of the demand for payment and asked for further evidence of the contract the cold caller became verbally aggressive.
If you receive this type of call or an invoice demanding payment for unknown services, our advice is do not to make any payment unless you have agreed to the advertising and to check any demand for payments carefully.
Where agreements have been made and the business feels they have been misled over the terms of the advertising and they require further advice, please contact us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls offering ‘advertisement opportunities’ to businesses – 30 October 2020
We have received a report from a business regarding a telephone cold call from a male claiming to be from the ‘Norfolk Fire Service’.
The man asked if the business would be interested in advertising with the emergency service for a fee of £90. The business rejected this but received a later phone call offering the service for £80 which was also rejected. This phone call is a scam and similar calls may be attempted on further businesses in Norfolk. We would remind all businesses that Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service do not cold call businesses or authorise third party companies to do so on their behalf looking to sell advertising or sponsorship.
We always advise to be wary of telephone cold calls and the claims made during them. Businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves against scam calls:
- Be on your guard for payment requests that are unexpected or irregular, whatever the amount involved
- Always check the person or organisation calling is genuine. If you receive a suspicious call do not give or confirm any personal or financial details. If the caller is claiming to be from a known organisation you should ask to call them back, hang up, wait five minutes and then contact them using a known contact number or the details displayed on their official website.
- If in any doubt, do not make the payment, however urgent it may seem or whatever the suggested outcome(s).
You can report suspicious communication, which could be a scam, received by your business to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
Rogue Trader Alert – Cold callers targeting businesses – 15 October 2020
We are reminding businesses to be on their guard for cold callers who visit them attempting to sell services, items or offering to undertake work.
We have previously issued warning when callers have been operating in Norfolk. These have included cold callers who are:
- Offering to lay tarmac or gravel, or replace car park markings. They often claim the material is ‘left over from another job’.
- Selling items like generators, power tools and pressure washers
- Offering to service or sharpen items in use by the business
- Selling products to staff, often claiming to be ex-offenders selling as part of a rehabilitation scheme
Never deal with cold callers who arrive at your business offering to sell items or undertake work.
If you business is visited by a cold caller, report the incident to us through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Police on 101. Give as much detail as possible, including:
- A description of the cold caller
- Why they said they were calling
- Who they said they were representing
- Whether they were alone or working with others
- Whether they called at neighbouring businesses after leaving your premises
- If they returned to a vehicle, was it sign written? Did you see the make, model, colour or registration plate?
- If you have CCTV at your premises, did it capture any images of the cold callers?