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Business scam alerts

You can report scams through our partners the Citizens Advice helpline using their online report form or by calling 0808 223 1133 (freephone).  You can also report scams to Action Fraud, the UK national fraud office, using their online fraud reporting tool or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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Scam Alert – Telephone cold callers offering adverts in ‘free magazines’ – 27 May 2021

We are warning businesses to be aware of telephone cold caller claiming to be offering adverts in ‘free magazines’.

This approach is typical of a publication scam where scammers attempt to get businesses to agree to advertise often claiming to be producing magazines which will ‘support good causes’ or charities local to the business.

Often following the call, a demand from payment for the proposed advertising will arrive even if no agreement has been made during the call.

We would remind all businesses to ensure that all employees dealing with telephone contacts are aware of this type of cold calling scam.

If you or anyone within your business receives one of these calls do not give or confirm any information about your business, hang up and report it to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Norfolk Trusted Trader

Let your reputation do the talking. Become a Norfolk Trusted Trader.

Norfolk Trusted Trader is always looking for more quality Norfolk businesses to join the scheme. 

Thanks to funding from the Norfolk Strategic Fund to help Norfolk business thrive, we are pleased to offer 50% off the cost of membership for the first 300 members who have their application approved.

Member benefits

By being a member of Norfolk Trusted Trader, you will benefit by

  • Showing you are a Trusted Trader checked by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards with

    • Real Customer feedback bringing word of mouth recommendations to a wider audience
    • Increased consumer confidence in your business, helping customers avoid rogues
  • More customers!Your business will be easier to find!

    We will market the scheme

    • in print, social and other media,
    • directory listing on Referenceline.com and
    • Norfolk County Council’s webpages

    We will also provide materials to enable you to promote membership on your website, vehicle or paperwork

  • Ongoing support and advice to develop your business
  • Support to recover from the impact of COVID-19 and get back to business safely
  • Independent redress for consumer complaints

Join now and get 50% off the cost of membership

With your 50% discount, annual membership costs £105 +VAT (Usual fee £210 + VAT.)

For more information visit our Trusted Trader page, contact the Norfolk Trusted Trader Team on 01603 223833 or email trustedtrader@norfolk.gov.uk.

News Alert – Cyber Resilience Centre launches across the East of England to help businesses – 19 May 2021

An innovative partnership between the police, private sector and academia has launched across the East of England to help businesses protect themselves against cybercrime.

The Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre (ECRC) is part of a network of centres being established across the country to provide businesses and organisations, with an affordable way to access cybersecurity services and consultancy to help protect themselves from attack.

The ECRC offers a range of membership options depending on the level of support businesses need. Core membership is free and provides businesses with access to a range of resources and tools to help them identify risks and vulnerabilities, as well as providing guidance on the steps they can take to increase their levels of protection.

You can find out more information about the centre and how to get involved on the ECRC website.

To keep updated with all the latest ECRC developments, you can follow @EasternCRC on Twitter, LinkedIn or sign up to receive the ECRC news on the website.

Scam Alert – Letters claiming to be from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – 29 April 2021

We are warning businesses in Norfolk to be aware of letters in circulation, claiming to be from BEIS, stating it is a legal requirement for air purifiers to be installed as part of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

The letter includes an offer to sell such purifiers to the recipient with a request for company details. These letters are not genuine and BEIS is currently investigating this matter. There is no legal requirement for businesses to install such purifiers.

Businesses should only access advice from trusted sources, such as www.gov.uk and, if in doubt, contact us or your local Environmental Health for guidance.

Information Alert – Cyber Protect from Norfolk Constabulary – 29 April 2021

Did you know Norfolk Constabulary offers a free range of cyber security services to individuals and organisations across Norfolk?

Strengthen your protection against cyber crime with these support elements which are available:

  • Cyber Basics Review – Free assessment of your organisation’s IT Infrastructure, in line with the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials programme
  • Online and in-person workshops and presentations for all levels and audiences, from Education to Cyber Security Professionals. Example themes include:
    • keeping yourself and your organisation safe from cybercrime
    • staff cyber awareness training
    • digital footprint
    • incident response simulation
    • network security architecture for remote working
  • Lego Decisions and Disruptions game delivery
  • Act as sponsor for the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP)
  • Offer general advice for everyone about cybercrime
  • Raise awareness and signpoint to trusted, available resources

For more information on cyber security services visit the Norfolk Constabulary website, or to arrange an appointment email us at cyberprotect@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

Information Alert – Upcoming changes to rules for selling solid fuels – 22 April 2021

New rules will apply for coal merchants and retailers selling traditional house coal for use in domestic appliances in England from 1 May 2021.

On this date rules will change about:

  • Who can sell house coal
  • How you can sell house coal
  • When you must stop selling house coal

Further information on selling coal for domestic use is available on the GOV.UK website.

New rules for selling wood for domestic heating appliances also apply from 1 May 2021.

Wood for domestic use can only be sold in quantities less than 2 cubic metres if it has been certified under the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme.

Woodsure has been appointed by Defra to run the certification scheme that will come into force in England from 1 May 2021 for most wood fuel suppliers. Sales of wood fuel greater than 2 cubic metres do not need to be certified.

Further information on selling wood for domestic use is available on the GOV.UK website.

Further information on selling manufactured solid fuels for domestic use is available on the GOV.UK website.

Information regarding weights and measures when selling solid fuel and wood fuel is available on the Business Companion website.

Scam Alert – Invoice scams and mandate fraud – 21 April 2021

We are warning businesses in Norfolk to be aware of the threat that invoice scams and mandate fraud pose, especially with many staff continuing to work remotely from home.

Fake invoice scams typically work by fraudsters pretending to be a supplier and contacting the business to say that the account details that an invoice needs to be paid to have changed. Innocently, an employee amends the account details only for the organisation to later find out that they have been sending money to a fraudster rather than a genuine supplier. The more detail a fraudster has about an organisation, the easier it is to pose as a supplier and make the scam convincing.

Although the scam could work on businesses of any size, smaller businesses are most at risk and may find it harder to recover from losing large amounts of money.

Mandate fraud is when fraudsters tries to get a business to change a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by claiming to be an organisation you make regular payments to (for example, a subscription or membership organisation, or a supplier to your business).

Action Fraud offer the following advice for businesses to protect themselves from these types of fraud:

  • Ensure all staff (not just finance teams) know about invoice scams and mandate fraud
  • Never respond to the contact details provided by someone requesting changes to financial details. Instead, use established email and telephone contacts to check that any request has come from the genuine supplier or organisation
  • Always review invoices to check for inconsistencies/errors, such as a misspelt company name
  • Where possible establish at least two specific points of contact with suppliers so that all invoice changes can be confirmed with both contacts
  • Contact suppliers for payment of larger invoices in advance of making payment to ensure that payment is made to the correct bank account
  • Consider what information is publicly available about your business and whether it needs to be public
  • Never leave invoices unattended in the office or on a desk
  • Ensure your computer systems are secure and that antivirus software is up to date

Any attempts at invoice scams or mandate fraud can be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Scam Alert – Email claiming to be from ‘HM Revenue & Customs’ – 28 January 2021

The 31 January marks the deadline for HMRC’s self-assessment tax returns and provides criminals with another opportunity to try to scam you.

The fake scam email contains the words 'Dear Taxpayer, After the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible for a tax refund of up to 386.65 £'

This may be through emails or texts appearing to be from HMRC claiming you’re due a tax refund, owe tax or urging you to provide your personal and financial information.

Criminals may also offer their services to help you with your application whilst charging you a fee to complete the process.

Take Five and know it’s okay to say no to unsolicited offers of help or requests for your details.

Visit the GOV.UK website to access HMRC’s scams checklist which also details examples of fake phishing emails.

If you receive an email claiming to be from HMRC forward it to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk

Scam Alert – Email claiming to be from ‘G.O.V. U.K.’ – 27 January 2021

We are warning businesses to be aware of emails circulating claiming to be from ‘Companies Investigations’ regarding ‘an online company complaint’.

The scam email reads "Your new grant is on the way.  The scheme has been extended.  The online service to claim the third grant is open."

The email is not genuine. If you receive this or an email making similar claims do not click on any links or open any attachments.

You can forward suspicious emails to the National Cyber Security Centre’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service at report@phishing.gov.uk

News Alert – Digital Security 101: Keeping your SME business safe online– Wednesday 13 January 

Are you ready to defend your business against cyber criminals in 2021? Join this practical FREE webinar and training next Wednesday with experts from The National Centre for Cybersecurity and Norfolk & Suffolk Constabulary – together we can help you learn to love cybersecurity.

This free event will take place on Wednesday 13 January and will be online via Zoom. For more information and to register visit the eventbrite website

News Alert – National Lockdown – 06 January 2021

Following the introduction of a new period of National Lockdown, Government guidance has been updated and issued. This includes:

Going to work

You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

Where people cannot work from home - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Working in other people’s homes

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

Further guidance for working in Other People’s Homes is available on the GOV.UK website.

The full National Lockdown guidance is available on the GOV.UK website.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

For COVID-19 secure guidelines covering a range of settings see the GOV.UK website.

We understand that it continues to be a difficult time for businesses, if you have any questions regarding the support that is available to you please visit the Support for businesses during coronavirus page on the Norfolk County Council website or call 0344 800 8020

Information Alert – Business Support Helpline – 05 January 2021

During these unprecedented times, it's more important than ever that you and your businesses can get to the right support as quickly as possible.

That's where the government Business Support Helpline comes in.

Your business can get advice and financial help from government-backed schemes. Get financial support if your business is affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). You can also get:

  • help with tax
  • regional help with exporting
  • advice on writing a business plan
  • advice on new rules following the end of the Brexit transition

You can contact the government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice by emailing enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org or call 0800 998 1098.

Scam Alert – Email claiming to be from ‘Companies Investigations’ – 04 January 2021

We are warning businesses to be aware of emails circulating claiming to be from ‘Companies Investigations’ regarding ‘an online company complaint’.

The email is not genuine. If you receive this or an email making similar claims do not click on any links or open any attachments.

You can forward suspicious emails to the National Cyber Security Centre’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service at report@phishing.gov.uk

News Alert – Avian influenza (bird flu) new housing measures across Great Britain – information for poultry and captive bird keepers – 7 December 2020

Due to the heightened risk of avian influenza, new housing measures for poultry and captive birds will be introduced from 14 December 2020 in England, Scotland and Wales.

Updated advice for poultry and bird keepers can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Information Alert – Door-to-door sales – 4 December 2020

In tiers 1, 2 and 3, retail door-to-door sales should not be taking place, and sales activities should be conducted remotely (such as by phone, online, or mail).

Details of this restriction can be found in the guidance available on the GOV.UK website.

You can report any concerns about a business complying with the coronavirus restrictions by contacting us via Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

News Alert – East Anglia Cyber Security Event with Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary (Wednesday 25 November 10 -11.15am) – 12 November 2020

The Norfolk Against Scams Partnership (NASP) is partnering with Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary, NatWest and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce to present a free Cyber Security Event for businesses. The event will explore the current and emerging threats facing business during COVID19 and what steps can be taken to minimise the risk.

This free event will take place on Wednesday 25 November and will be online via Zoom. For more information and to register visit the Eventbrite website

The NASP has also launched a group on LinkedIn to help promote their stand against scams in Norfolk. To join search on LinkedIn for ‘Norfolk Against Scams Partnership’.

News Alert – Bird flu national prevention zone declared – 12 November 2020

The UK Chief Veterinary Officer has declared a national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) covering all of England to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.

This comes after two separate, unrelated cases in kept poultry and birds confirmed in England last week and a third case of H5N8 avian flu in captive birds was confirmed at a broiler breeder farm in Herefordshire. A very small number of wild birds in South West of England have also been found to have had the disease.

This means it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures.

Advice for poultry keepers can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Scam Alert – Business advertising cold calls and invoices – 11 November 2020

We are again warning businesses to be aware of telephone cold calls and unexpected invoices requesting payment for advertising following two further reports from Norfolk Businesses this week.

In the first incident a business received a telephone cold call claiming the business ‘had agreed to purchase advertising in July’ for a ‘schools publication’. The cold caller stated the payment due was £189 but could be ‘reduced to £159’ if paid immediately. The business owner who had taken the call disputed the facts with the cold caller, ended the call and reported the incident to us.

In the second incident a business has reported receiving an email containing an invoice demanding payment for advertising within a ‘pack for schools’.

If you receive this type of call or an invoice demanding payment for unknown services, our advice is do not give or confirm any information or make any payment unless you have agreed to the advertising and to check all demands for payments carefully.

Where agreements have been made but you feel that you have been misled over the terms of the advertising and you require further advice, please contact us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – COVID-19 financial support scams – 5 November 2020

Businesses need to continue to be alert to scams targeting them during the current period of lockdown.

Image showing an example of a scam email about a government grant

These types of scam may increase in the coming days and weeks as scammers look to exploit the current situation.

Our advice is always be very wary of unexpected emails, calls and text messages claiming to be from Government or other statutory bodies especially if they are claiming to be offering financial support. Never click on links in messages or open attachments and never give or confirm any personal or financial information when cold called.

If you have responded to a suspicious contact and supplied financial information, contact your bank immediately.

To report email scams, contact the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) by emailing report@phishing.gov.uk. Forward scam text messages to 7726.

You can report contacts you believe to be a scam to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

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?

Information Alert – Government guidance on placing manufactured goods on the market in Great Britain from 1 January 2021 – 17 September 2020

The UK government has issued guidance on placing manufactured goods on the market in Great Britain (GB) from 1 January 2021. This includes guidance on when the new UKCA mark should be used and how to use it.

Guidance from GOV.UK on using the UKCA mark from 1 January 2021

Guidance from GOV.UK on placing manufactured goods on the EU market from 1 January 2021

Guidance from GOV.UK on placing manufactured goods on the market in Great Britain from 1 January 2020

All those manufacturing and distributing products in the UK should read the guidance and consider what immediate action is needed.

You should identify which rules apply from 1 January 2021 and the guidance focusses on goods which are subject to the EU’s “new approach” product safety rules, which includes toys, electrical and electronic equipment, and personal protective equipment. There are different rules for chemicals, medicines, vehicles and aerospace.

You should check to see if you need to change your conformity assessment or marking.

Information Alert – Protect Norfolk campaign: Coronavirus communication toolkits for businesses – 20 August 2020

We have developed several toolkits to help businesses and other organisations spread awareness about how we can help protect Norfolk from coronavirus.

View the toolkits on our website.

Materials such as posters, educational videos and leaflets have been created which can be accessed by anyone wanting to help spread awareness. Topics include keeping safe whilst at home or work, correct hand washing methods and how to book a test. More specific materials catered to the tourism and hospitality industries are also available.

Lastly, there is also a section focused on Covid-19 scams with materials that can be used by anyone looking to raise awareness on how people can better protect themselves and their personal information.

If you are a business looking for more information about using these toolkits please email marketing@norfolk.gov.uk

Information Alert – New way to report online scam adverts introduced – 13 August 2020

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have launched a new service which allows internet users to report scam ads appearing online.

Online users have been asked to fill in a form via the ASA website to report any fake ads they find on online platforms such as newspaper websites, paid-for search engines or social media.

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 new 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.

More information on the launch of this reporting system can be found via Money Saving Expert website.

If you think you have been the victim of an online scam you can report this to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, on 0808 223 1133.

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