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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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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.

Scam Alert – Fake ‘Covid-19 Government Business Grant' emails – 25 June 2020

We are warning businesses about emails circulating stating that ‘you have been awarded the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant’ by ‘your District Council’. The example below has the heading 'Covid-19 Government Business Grants' and begins with the text 'I am writing to confirm that you have been awarded the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant'.

Scam email with title covid-19 Government Business Grants

This follows reports to our colleagues at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute from several areas of the UK.

These emails are not genuine and anyone clicking on the link will be taken to a website which will attempt to gather business and financial information which can then be used to target further frauds.

To report email scams, contact the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) by emailing report@phishing.gov.uk.

It is currently Scams Awareness fortnight and businesses are encouraged to join Businesses Against Scams. This initiative aim to protect and prevent businesses from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.

Information Alert – Norfolk County Council produces toolkit to assist businesses to reduce/prevent the spread of coronavirus when engaging with staff and customers – 18 June 2020

As businesses start to reopen and welcome back staff and customers, there are many things to consider in order to ensure the safety of work forces and customers as far as possible.

We have produced a toolkit containing a range of advice and resources to assist businesses during this process. Download the toolkit.

Scam Alert – Gift card purchase request – 04 June 2020

Trading Standards are reminding businesses to ensure staff check unexpected email requests for purchases or cash transfers that appear to come from within the organisations.

Here is an example of an email - the subject line read 'Paramount' and the email begins 'I am in a conference meeting right now...'.

Scam email about gift card purchase

This type of email frequently requests the purchase or payment to be made the same day, sometimes providing a seemingly satisfactory explanation for its urgency. It is often received when the ‘sender’ is away from the office, making it difficult for the recipient to check whether it is genuine. In addition, the fact that the email is, whatever the scenario, the fact that it often appears to have come from a senior person in the organisation can make it more believable – and more important that the payment is made – than a ‘normal’ phishing email.

Scammers will often use ‘email spoofing’ to modify scam emails they send so the email’s identifying fields, such as the From, Return-Path and Reply-To addresses are modified to appear to be from someone other than the actual sender.

Spoofing addresses give the scammer an increased chance that the recipient will open it believing it to have come from the genuine person, organisation or company.

Businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

  • Be on your guard for purchase or payment requests that are unexpected or irregular, whatever the amount involved
  • Pay attention to the name and email address: if it’s different to the usual one the sender uses disregard it
  • Look at the spelling, grammar and tone: This can often give away that the email is not from genuine sender
  • Is it trying to rush you? Stop and Take 5: Scammers will attempt to make the issue sound extremely urgent hoping that the recipient will respond before checking it out. A genuine sender won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think
  • Always check with the person you believe sent the email, however senior or busy, that it is from them. If they are not available and the email has requested urgency, check with one of their senior colleagues
  • Do not do this by email in case their account has been hacked. Instead, make a phone call, ask in person or use some other trusted communication method• If in any doubt, do not make the payment, however urgent it may seem or whatever the suggested outcome(s).
  • Be very wary of requests for action: NEVER click on links or open attachments in unexpected emails

You can report suspicious communication, which could be a scam, received by your business to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Information Alert – Chartered Trading Standards Institute offers free coronavirus guides for business – 28 May 2020

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has produced a set of guides to help businesses get back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.

The CTSI Coronavirus Bulletins are specific guides providing clear guidance for:

  • Travel and tour operators
  • Food businesses
  • Housing and home improvement sector

Guides are updated regularly and can be downloaded free from the Business Companion website.

Information Alert – Food Standards Agency provides Guidance on hygiene and food safety requirements for food businesses to reopen and operate safely during COVID-19 – 19 May 2020

The Food Standards Agency has produced guidance on hygiene and food safety requirements for food businesses to reopen and operate safely during COVID-19.The guidance is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

News Alert – Norfolk Against Scams Partnership launch anti-scamming campaign during COVID-19 – 21 May 2020

Agencies from across Norfolk have come together to warn residents to be extra vigilant of new and existing scams during the Covid-19 pandemic. A three-week campaign is being headed up by the Norfolk Against Scams Partnership, with a membership comprising Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards, Norfolk Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCCN), voluntary agencies, businesses and residents.

There will be a different focus on partners’ social media platforms each week, using the hashtag #NorfolkScamAware:

  • Trusted information – to guide the public to useful information and support agencies
  • Protect – to give advice on how people can better equip themselves to identify the signs of scamming
  • Watch Out – to make victims aware of the Norfolk Scam Prevention Service and the new scams that have emerged due to the Covid-19 pandemic

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter search for the hashtag #NorfolkScamAware and share some of the information with your followers, customers, staff, family, friends, neighbours and the community where you live.

Information Alert – Guidance for Businesses when purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – 21 May 2020

At present the Government advice is that for workers (other than those in non-health and non-care settings) there is very little scientific evidence of widespread benefit from PPE.

Instead, practising good hand hygiene and social distancing are key to minimising the risk of infection.

Please see: Guidance for employers on COVID-19 and Protecting Workers Health during the extended Covid-19 Outbreak.

However, if you do need to buy PPE for your business during this time it can be difficult to know where to start.

Simple things to consider when sourcing PPE:

  • What is the Importer/Distributer’s level of knowledge of PPE -is this their usual business activity?
  • Are there outlandish claims being made on marketing material/social media or websites?

Does the packaging / labelling include the following information?

  • Name (or registered name or trademark) & postal address of manufacturer or importer
  • Batch code or serial number allowing identification of PPE • Description/Classification of Type of PPE
  • CE Mark with reference to the 4-digit notified body number• Reference to the applicable Standard i.e. EN 149:2001 

Can your supplier provide the following information?

  • A copy of the Manufacturers Declaration of Conformity
  • A picture of the product and the packaging?
  • Details of the standards the product is tested to

Sources of further guidance: 

Health & Safety Executive

European Safety Federation

If you are looking to import PPE in bulk for your business please refer to this guidance from the Office for Product Safety & Standards.

If you have concerns about the standards of PPE you have been offered or your business has purchased please contact us for further advice on 0344 800 8020.

News Alert – Retailers are reminded that from 20 May the sale of menthol cigarettes is banned – 14 May 2020

From Wednesday May 20th, it will be an offence for retailers to sell menthol cigarettes, and for manufacturers to produce them. The ban also applies to capsule, click on, click and roll, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes. The ban does not apply to heated tobacco products or e-cigarette products, flavoured filters or papers, rolling tobacco or flavoured cigars and cigarillos.

The ban on menthol-flavoured tobacco is the latest step in a Government tobacco control strategy designed to reduce youth uptake of smoking and to encourage and support quitting amongst smokers. Guidance for retailers and a poster for them to display in-store to communicate the menthol ban to customers can be downloaded from the ACS website.

Information Alert – UK Government guidance for Businesses on working safely during coronavirus – 13 May 2020

The UK Government, in consultation with industry, has produced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance to help ensure working practices are as safe as possible. The new guidance covers eight work settings, and one or more of these are likely to be relevant to many businesses.

The settings or workplaces include customers’ homes, vehicles (including work vehicles used to get to customers’ homes) construction sites and outdoor environments.

The guidance should be implemented as soon as it is practical and is focused on five key points:

  • Work from home, if you can• Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  • Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  • Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  • Reinforcing cleaning processes

The eight guides can be accessed via the Gov.UK website.

Scam Alert – CEO Impersonation Fraud – 30 April 2020

Trading Standards are warning businesses about the risk of CEO Impersonation Fraud whilst many staff are working from home.

CEO impersonation fraud takes place when a scam email purporting to be from the Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director or another senior figure in an organisation is sent to the finance team requesting that a payment to be made to a third party, or to the senior figure themselves.

This type of email frequently requests the payment to be made the same day, sometimes providing a seemingly satisfactory explanation for its urgency. It is often received when the ‘sender’ is away from the office, making it difficult for the recipient to check whether it is genuine. In addition, the fact that the email is Whatever the scenario, the fact that it seems to come from a senior person in the organisation can make it more believable – and more important that the payment is made – than a ‘normal’ phishing email.

Fraudsters can achieve the impersonation by either hacking into the senior figure’s email account, spoofing the sender’s actual address or use one that is very similar, but almost indistinguishable. Their scam can also be aided by gathering information about your organisation and the relevant people in it via social engineering techniques or other underhand methods, or even via legitimate methods such as LinkedIn. In some cases, the email is followed by a call from the supposed payee, providing payment details.

Businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

  • Be on your guard for payment requests that are unexpected or irregular, whatever the amount involved
  • Always check with the person you believe sent the email, however senior or busy, that it is from them. If they are not available and the email has requested urgency, check with one of their senior colleagues
  • Do not do this by email in case their account has been hacked. Instead, make a phone call, ask in person or use some other trusted communication method• 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 Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

News Alert - National Trading Standards launches Businesses Against Scams - 23 April 2020

The National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team have set up Businesses Against Scams to provide resources companies can share with their employees to educate them on a variety of common business-related frauds.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, more people are working from home than ever. Criminals are taking advantage of employees' increased stress, fewer opportunities to talk to colleagues, and different working environments to commit fraud. Employees are having to make decisions on their own without verification from their colleagues, making businesses more.

Practical steps companies can take to reduce the risk include:

  • Supporting people to use stronger passwords and setting up two factor authentication
  • Ensuring staff know how to report problems, especially those related to security
  • Creating 'How to' guides for new software and tools staff may be using
  • Using VPNs to allow users to securely access the organisation's IT services

Complete the questionnaire at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/BAS to gain access to a free training session. The training takes around 10 minutes to complete and provides information on frauds, what to look our for, and how to prevent your company from falling victim to them. You will also get access to a number of fact sheets, infographics and posters that can be used to refresh knowledge in your team or shared on social media.

News Alert - Cyber Aware campaign launches with request to flag coronavirus related email scams - 22 April 2020

Cyber experts have introduced measures to protect the UK from online harm while we're relying more on technology to help us stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, has launched the cross-governmental Cyber Aware campaign.  The campaign offers actionable advice for people to protect passwords, accounts and devices.

The NCSC has published specific advice to help businesses protect themselves and the technology the rely on:

Cyber Aware information for the self employed and sole traders

Cyber Aware information for small and medium-sized organisation

Cyber Aware information for large organisations

They have also launched the pioneering Suspicious Email Reporting Service.  This will make it easy for people to forward suspicious emails to the NCSC, including those claiming to offer services related to coronavirus.

This new service builds on the NCSC's existing takedown services, which have already removed more than 2,000 online scams related to coronavirus in the last month, including:

  • 471 fake online shops selling fraudulent coronavirus related items
  • 555 malware distribution sites set up to cause significant damage to any visitors
  • 200 phishing sites seeking personal information such as passwords or credit card details
  • 832 advance-fee frauds where a large sum of money is promised in return for a set-up payment

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