Consumer scam alerts

You can report scams to our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, using the Citizens Advice online reporting form or by calling 0808 223 1133 (freephone), or you can report a scam 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 – Fake messages from ‘friends and family’ – 30 June 2022

We are warning residents to be aware of WhatsApp messages and emails where scammers attempt to impersonate people you know in order to steal money.

A Norfolk resident has reported receiving an email from a ‘friend’ requesting they pay an invoice. The resident then contacted the friend directly who confirmed they had no knowledge of the email and had not sent it.

We have also seen reports of residents receiving WhatsApp messages from a ‘family member’ asking to send money. The messages often state that the family member is in trouble and needs the money urgently.

Our advice if you receive a message like this is always be suspicious, especially if a request for money is involved, and try and contact the person who the message claims to be from via another known number or method.

You can report messages received to us via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls regarding ‘saving energy’ – 28 June 2022

We are warning residents about telephone cold calls regarding ‘saving energy’.

This follows reports of people being offered a cut price deal over the phone, for example £50 of electricity meter top-up for a cash payment of just £25.

The cold callers may also ask questions about the residents’ property before asking for personal information including the resident’s age.

Our advice is always be very wary of any approach made in a telephone cold call, never give, or confirm any personal or financial details and do not agree to someone visiting your home if approached in this manner.

You can report suspicious cold calls received to us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Scam Alert – Text messages claiming ‘Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19’ – 27 June 2022

We are warning residents of text messages circulating claiming that ‘Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19’.

The message also contains a link which if followed goes to a bogus website which attempts to gather personal details.

You can also report scam text messages to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Information Alert – Suspicious Text Message, report it to 7726 – 23 June 2022

Messaging scams can be very convincing with scammers using a range of approaches and techniques to try and get you to impart personal or financial information.

Often using identity masking technology to change the name or number displayed as the sender it can make the messages look like it has come from the legitimate organisation, this is known as number spoofing.

Messages will often be presented in a way to pressure the recipient to act before they have thought about it.

If you receive a text message that appears suspicious, do not click on any links, or reply to it. Instead if you need to check if it is genuine contact the organisation directly using details from their genuine website or app, never use any information supplied in the message.

You can then report the message by forwarding it to 7726 – a free reporting service provided by phone operators. This information is then shared with police and intelligence agencies working to stop text scams.

iPhone or iPad: How to forward a text message:

  1. Take a note of the number that sent you the message
  2. Press and hold on the message bubble
  3. Tap More
  4. Select the message or messages you want to forward
  5. Tap the arrow on the bottom right of the screen
  6. Input 7726 and send

Android: How to forward a text message:

  1. Take a note of the number that sent you the message
  2. Enter the conversation then press and hold on the message bubble
  3. Tap on the three vertical dots on the top right of your screen
  4. Tap Forward
  5. Input 7726 and send

You can also report a scam text by taking a screenshot of the message and send it to the National Cyber Security Centre by email to report@phishing.gov.uk.

Consumer Alert – Buying and Selling online – 22 June 2022

Remember the #TakeFive message when looking for deals online.

We have received a report of a Norfolk resident falling victim to a scam when buying an item on Facebook. The resident sent money via PayPal to the seller with the agreement that they would receive the item in the post, however the item did not arrive.

If you are buying or selling high value items online, make sure you are using reputable selling platforms with official payment channels. Be extra cautious if you are asked to pay directly into a private individual’s bank account or are parting with your items before receiving any payment.

Be scam savvy by reading online reviews to ensure websites are genuine and use the payment methods recommended by reputable online retailers and auction sites.

Where possible, use a credit card for purchases over £100 and up to £30,000 as you receive protection under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act.

More information on how to protect yourself from financial fraud can be found on the #TakeFive 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 freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Text messages claiming to be from the ‘Post Office’ – 21 June 2022

We are again warning residents about text messages circulating claiming to be from the Post Office.

The text states that you have an undelivered parcel and asks you to follow the link to arrange redelivery. This links takes you to a website where you are asked to provide bank details. A Norfolk resident realised they had fallen victim to this scam after £125 was taken from their account after they had provided their details.

Criminals are experts at creating spoof messages that then link to fake websites using official logos and branding of trusted organisations to trick you into taking urgent action without closer inspection.

#TakeFive and contact the organisation directly using a known email or phone number instead of clicking on links.

If you receive this or a similar text message you can report it by forwarding it to 7726.

If you think you’ve fallen for a scam message and provided financial details, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one on the back of your bank card.

If you have received a text message which you believe to be a scam you can also report it to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls about a ‘Lottery win’ – 20 June 2022

We have received a report from Norfolk resident about recorded telephone cold calls claiming to be about ‘your Lottery win’.

The message then invites the call recipient to ‘Press 1 to claim your winnings’

We always advise people to be very wary of claims made during telephone cold calls. If you receive this or a similar recorded message, call our advice is do not interact with the call 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 0808 223 1133.

Cold Calling Alert – Doorstep Cold Caller offering to undertake roofing work – 20 June 2022

We are warning residents to be aware of doorstep cold callers follows reports from the Horstead area of a male going door to door offering to undertake roofing work.

Our advice is:

  • 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

If you see cold callers operating in Norfolk, please contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Police on 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

Could your community help stop doorstep cold callers from targeting vulnerable people by becoming a No Cold Calling Zone? To find out more about the scheme or to apply visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/nccz

Scam Alert – Inheritance Scams – 19 June 2022

Beware of messages sent online claiming to be from individuals wishing to leave you inheritance money. We have received a report from a Norfolk resident who has been contacted by a female who states that she is unwell and therefore wishes to transfer the resident £450,000.

These messages aim to entice vulnerable people to share their bank details and other personal information and will encourage them to pay out to receive the inheritance.

If you respond to the fraudsters, they’ll ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so they can release your non-existent inheritance.

Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why the inheritance can’t be paid out unless you make another payment. If you ask, they will also give you reasons why the fees can’t be taken from your inheritance and have to be paid upfront.

If you become reluctant to pay a fee or suggest you can’t afford it, the fraudsters will put pressure on you by reminding you how close you are to receiving a sum of money much greater than the fees you’ve already handed over, and of how much you’ve already paid out.

The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. But, if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.

Report all scams to us via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Fake DVLA websites charging for driving license services –18 June 2022

We are warning consumers to be aware of websites offering DVLA services. These websites often charge a premium for services which you can get for free or at a much lower cost via the official Government website.

These services include taxing your vehicle, replacing or updating your driving license and updating your vehicle logbook. If you are searching for these services online, always use GOV.UK.

MoneySavingExpert have further information regarding copycat websites which can be found online.

You can also report online advertisements that you think might be a scam to the Advertising Standards Agency.

If you think you have fallen victim to a scam you can report this to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Investment Scams– 16 June 2022

We have seen a surge in reports of investment scams where you're offered the chance to put money into things like shares, carbon credits (investments in environmental projects) and gemstones or fine wine. The promise is that these will rocket in value. In reality, what you are being offered is often over-priced, very risky and difficult to sell on.

Most of these so-called investments are run from overseas and may not be authorised by the UK's Financial Services Authority. As a result, there is almost no chance of getting your money back if things go wrong.

Protect yourself

  • Be very sceptical about calls out of the blue from companies you don't know offering shares and other investments – especially if they're 'guaranteed' or 'risk-free'.
  • Get independent financial advice before making an investment.
  • Never sign up to anything immediately or if you're told to keep the deal confidential.
  • Make sure the firm is on the Financial Services Authority (FSA) register of authorised firms, you can check the list by visiting the FSA website.

Cold Calling Alert – Letters from JD Williams– 15 June 2022

We are alerting consumers to a warning reported to us from a Norfolk resident after receiving letters claiming to be from the retailer, JD Williams. The letters persistently arrive and contain instructions to setup direct debits after unsolicited goods are received.

This, in effect is a phishing scam aimed at obtaining your genuine bank details. It is known as a long con, using unsolicited goods or services to convince you it’s genuine, slowly giving you a false sense of security. The idea eventually is to add your bank details to the rest of the personal information previously gained to complete the identity theft.

JD Williams say that they will only ask for personal details if you’ve made direct contact with them first by phone, direct chat, or email. However, they do encourage you to report the fraud to them, if you have received any correspondence and you are convinced it is a scam, open a fraud case – JD Williams (UK).

If you believe you have become a victim of identity fraud and you think an account of yours has been defrauded, please contact the bank or building society where your account is held.

If you have received a suspicious email asking for your personal details, please forward it to Bank Safe Online.

Scam Alert – Accommodation rental scams – 15 June 2022

We are alerting prospective tenants this week after receiving a report from a Norfolk consumer of a fake listing of a property on Facebook Marketplace.

At the start of the Summer, fraudsters are targeting possible college and university students ahead of the start of the new term with fake lettings in local accommodation, taking advantage of huge demand to collect fees up front to secure a deposit.

Fraudsters are advertising properties to rent at attractive rates and in excellent locations to lure in victims. Adverts will seem genuine and are accompanied by photos and contact information. However, fake landlords then trick victims who show interest into handing over a fee even before they’ve had a chance to view the house or flat, claiming the property is in high demand and will be off the market if they don’t act fast. Often, as in this case, the landlord will say that they live far away and therefore need the money upfront before any viewings can be considered.

Action Fraud offer the following advice to avoid accommodation rental fraud:

If you’re searching for student accommodation:

  • Only use reputable letting companies.
  • Do some online research such as using Google maps to check the property does exist.
  • Make an appointment to view the property in person, and always view the property prior to paying any advance fees.

If a landlord requests money upfront:

  • Be wary. Landlords should never ask for a ‘holding deposit’ due to high demand.
  • Don't feel pressured into handing over money. Landlords usually want to know they’re getting the right tenants first – they’ll request background checks such as employment or character references before asking for any fees.

If you need advice about scams, you can contact our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Information Alert – Unsolicited goods/ Brushing Scams – 15 June 2022

We received information this week from a consumer in Norfolk who received a parcel containing goods that they had not ordered. We are raising awareness to residents as you might think, receiving packages you haven’t paid for might not appear to be a big problem. But it’s likely to be behind the scam known as ‘brushing’.

This type of fraud involves auction websites and other sites where sellers are using 3rd party selling platforms such as Amazon, setting up accounts in a stranger’s name, then sending their products to an unsuspecting recipient.

They arrive with no return address affixed to enable you to send.

Then the fraudster will use this account they’ve set up to write fake “verified reviews” in a bid to improve their seller ratings. Most consumers look for products and sellers that have the most positive reviews. The selling website will then automatically favour “positive” sellers over negative reviews.

If you do receive a parcel that you have not ordered, it is likely that you have had some personal details taken by another scam i.e., name and address.

What to do if you’re a victim of ‘brushing’

It’s always good to be cautious where personal data is concerned, so start by checking any on-line accounts you have and reporting the incident to Amazon or who you have the account with. Change your password and speak to your bank about ordering a replacement credit card.

You can report any suspicious websites to us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Online scammers Household Goods – 14 June 2022

We are warning Norfolk resident’s this week of a rise in fake and “copycat” websites after receiving a report from a resident that goods were ordered and paid for, but nothing was supplied. One of the websites subject to the report has been taken down.

Fraudsters are looking to continue taking advantage of reduction in disposable incomes with a rise in these fake websites offering cheaper household items. In reality, these are just scammers, the listings are fake and the goods offered do not exist.

To help protect yourself from scams like this:

  • Check the authenticity of the website address and look for minor adjustments such as “underscores” in this that could look similar to genuine addresses of known retailers
  • Do your research, before purchasing anything online. Use “trusted trader” sites and look up reviews for the seller or seek out the auction seller’s feedback. If you’re still not sure, ask a friend for a second opinion
  • Trust your instinct - If something is being sold at what you think is an unrealistically low price, check it. If it looks too good to be true – it often is
  • 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

More information is available on the Action Fraud Website.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep Cold Callers offering to ‘clean driveways’ – 08 June 2022

We are warning residents after receiving reports of doorstep cold callers in the Hethersett area.

In the incident a resident was cold called at their property by three males who offered to ‘pressure wash and seal’ their driveway. Initially the resident agreed to the work with the cold caller quoting £140. Having undertaken a small amount of work the male then stated to the resident that the job was ‘going to cost more’. This was then repeated during the work with the cold caller eventually demanding more than £500.

The cold callers were seen to be using a white Ford Transit with red and black sign writing.

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 gardens even if they are offering to do tasks for free or a small fee
  • 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

Anyone sighting these cold callers in Norfolk or concerned about Rogue Trader activity please contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

If you feel intimidated or sight a cold caller and 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.

Could your community help stop doorstep cold callers from targeting vulnerable people by becoming a No Cold Calling Zone? To find out more about the scheme or to apply visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/nccz.

Cold Calling Alert – Doorstep Cold Callers in the Gaywood area – 07 June 2022

We are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving a report of doorstep cold callers in the Gaywood area.

This follows an incident where a male cold called at a property claiming to be ‘calling on behalf of Anglian Water’. The cold caller then asked the homeowner several questions about rainwater and flooding.

Anglian Water have confirmed this doorstep call was not connected with them.

The male was seen to return to a sign written white Peugeot van in which a second male was sat.

You can report any doorstep cold calling incidents to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

Anglian Water offer further advice on staying safe from Bogus Callers and scams on their website.

Scam Alert – Text messages about your bank account – 06 June 2022

We have received reports from residents about text messages claiming to be from banks stating there is an issue on your account and asking you to log in via a link.

These messages are spammed out randomly to huge numbers of mobile numbers hoping to trick people into clicking on a link which will take them to bogus versions of the genuine bank website which will attempt to gather personal and financial details.

The messages will often claim that accounts have been frozen, that money is about to leave the account or that there is fraudulent activity with the aim of panicking the recipient into reacting.

If you receive this or a similar message our advice is:

  • Do not click on any links or open attachments
  • Do not reply to the message
  • Do not call any numbers given in these messages

If you are concerned about the security of a bank account or credit card contact your bank or service provider directly using the Customer Service number printed on the card, on a recent statement or via information available on their genuine website or app. Never use details provided in a text message.

If you think you might have responded to a text message scam and provided your bank account details, contact your bank immediately.

You can report suspected text message scams to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls regarding ‘home energy’ – 06 June 2022

We are warning residents about telephone cold calls regarding ‘home energy’.

This follows a report from a Norfolk resident who received a call this week during which the cold caller stated they were ‘calling about home energy’.

The cold caller then went on to ask if the call recipient was the ‘homeowner’ and then a range of questions about the residents’ property.

Our advice is always be very wary of any approach made in a telephone cold call, never give, or confirm any personal or financial details and do not agree to someone visiting your home if approached in this manner.

You can report suspicious cold calls received to us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from ‘Amazon’ – 06 June 2022

We are again warning residents to be on their guard for telephone cold calls claiming to be from ‘Amazon’.

We continue to receive reports from Norfolk residents of recorded message calls claiming to be from Amazon. Previously these have included:

  • That ‘an order of £700 has place for an iPhone, if this isn’t you please press 1'
  • That ‘a payment of £79.99 has been taken to renew your Amazon Prime subscription’ the call then states you can ‘press 1 to cancel the payment’
  • That ‘a purchase costing £1,000 has been made on your Amazon account’ the call then states you can ‘press 1 if you did not make this purchase’
  • That ‘£1,000 has been charged to your Amazon account’ the call then states you can ‘press 1 to speak to the Amazon fraud team’
  • That ‘you are required to make a payment of £399 to your Amazon account’ the call then states you can ‘press 1 to speak to an advisor’

Where residents have interacted with the call, 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 and hang up.

Amazon have put together some helpful tips on how to identify if a phone call is from them. This information can be found on the Amazon UK website

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 freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – 'Computer fault’ scams – 30 May 2022

We are again warning Norfolk residents about ‘computer fault’ scam telephone cold calls.

These callers claim to work for well-known computer software, telecoms or broadband suppliers. The caller advises that there is a problem with the user’s computer or broadband equipment, often making claims about ‘viruses’, ‘criminals controlling your machine’ and ‘hackers accessing your router’ and that they will be ‘blocking you from the internet’ or ‘cutting off broadband access’ if the recipient does not agree to immediate remedial work.

The caller will then then attempt to gain remote access to the computer. This could give them the opportunity to plant malicious software onto the computer or access personal information held on the computer, including account log-in information and bank details, which can be used to commit fraud.

Victims can also end up being asked to pay for the ‘fixes’ the scammer has made to their computer.

If these people do not succeed at the first contact they are known to try calling again repeatedly. Also where they have been successful in charging a fee the scammers have targeted people again telling them the ‘problem’ has returned.

We have been issuing warnings around ‘computer fault’ cold calls for a number of years but reports continue. Fortunately many reports we receive are from residents who are aware of the issue and have terminated the call without giving access to their computer or making payment.

Please continue to share with others the information that well known computer companies, telecoms or broadband providers never cold call offering to fix problems with computers or requesting personal or financial details.

If you are concerned about the security of your home computer or to fix problems or issues with it we would advise you to find a quality local business like a Norfolk Trusted Trader, you can search the Norfolk Trusted Trader Directory.

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 freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Text messages claiming to be from 'Disney Plus' – 30 May 2022

Be aware of text messages circulating from random mobile telephone numbers claiming to be from Disney, the on-demand streaming service. These messages state ''DisneyPlus: your payment could not be processed. To continue using our service, please update your details here: https://billing-disneyplus.com.”

You may receive these messages even if you do not have an account or have never used the streaming service.

Anyone following the link will be taken to a website which claims that you can “update your personal details” or “opt-out and manage email settings”, these links are likely to be fraudulent and used in an attempt only to gather your personal or financial details.

These text messages are not genuine and are not connected with Disney or Disney+ in any way.

If you receive this or a similar text message, delete it without clicking on any of the links.

You can report contacts you think are fraudulent to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Scam Alert – Emails using the logo of the energy regulator – Ofgem – 30 May 2022

Fraudsters are very quick to take advantage of the current situation as we have seen reports of scam emails headed with the logo of the energy regulator Ofgem. This fake correspondence promises to give money through an “energy bill rebate scheme”.

Links on these pages take you to the fraudster’s website showing boxes enticing you to fill in various blanks.

As with all emails requesting you to follow instructions, take some time to check its origins and look for some common errors.

  • Pay close attention to the URL, Ofgem’s current URL is @ofgem.gov.uk
  • Check to see if the logo is distorted, stretched or blurry
  • Look out for differences in the typeface or font sizes
  • Note spelling mistakes and grammar errors

These unsolicited mailings are phishing email scams, designed to persuade you to click on links seeking your personal details or release spyware to infect your computer with viruses for no other reason, than stealing your passwords. We are warning consumers to be aware.

You can report contacts you think are fraudulent to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep Cold Callers selling household products – 27 May 2022

We are again warning residents to be on their guard after receiving reports of doorstep cold callers trying to sell household products.

This follows reports from the Ashill area today of young men doorstep cold calling.

Previously these callers have claimed to be ‘ex offenders’ or that they have ‘been in trouble with the police’, and this work was part of their ‘improvement’. The callers generally carry large holdall type bags or rucksacks containing household products including packaged kitchen knives, scissors, and cleaning products.

Our advice is never deal with anyone who cold calls at your property offering to sell something.

It is possible these doorstep cold callers could move onto other locations in Norfolk.

Anyone sighting these sellers or other doorstep cold callers in Norfolk should contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

If you feel intimidated or sight doorstep cold callers and are concerned for vulnerable neighbours call 999.

Scam Alert – Fake parcel delivery text messages– 26 May 2022

We are continuing to receive reports of fake parcel delivery text messages which lead to bogus websites that attempts to gain personal information or take payments for ‘redelivery’.

Recent examples have included texts claiming to be from Royal Mail, EVRI, DPD and the Post Office.

These texts have been sent by criminals who have created the fake website to look similar to the genuine websites, with the same branding, layout and font choices.

If you receive these or similar texts do not click on the link.

If you think you have provided scammers with your financial details you should contact your bank immediately.

If you receive what you think is a fake message, forward the text message, including the phone number or company name, to 7726. All phone operators now use this number as the short code to report spam and scam texts, which is free of charge. It won’t cost you anything and it means your phone provider can investigate the sender.

Report all scams to us via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Information Alert – Spot the signs of holiday fraud – 25 May 2022

We are highlighting to Norfolk residents advice from Action Fraud to think twice before handing over money and personal information when booking holidays.

As travel restrictions become more relaxed, Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday fraud when booking flights or accommodation online.

In the financial year 2021/22, Action Fraud received 4,244 reports of holiday and travel related fraud – a substantial increase of over 120% when compared to the previous financial year.

Victims reported losing a total of £7,388,353 – an average loss of £1,868 per victim.

Action Fraud offer the following top tips to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud:

  • Stay safe online: check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from.co.uk to .org.
  • Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experience, and warnings about the company
  • Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website
  • If you're booking a flight as part of a package holiday and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website
  • Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card. You should avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account
  • Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up
  • Use your instincts: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

You can get more advice on avoiding becoming a victim of holiday fraud on the ABTA website.

If you think you have been the victim of a fraud contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Scam Alert – Emails claiming to be from HMRC – 24 May 2022

We are warning residents to continue to be alert for fake HMRC emails.

This follows recent reports of emails circulating claiming to be from HMRC and stating that the email is a ‘failed direct debit alert’. The email goes on to offer a link which goes to a fake version of the HMRC website which will attempt to gather personal and financial details.

Remember, HMRC will never send notifications about tax refunds or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email.

If you receive this, or a similar email do not:

  • Click on any links
  • Open any attachments
  • Disclose any personal or payment information

You can forward suspicious HMRC emails to the HMRC phishing team at phishing@hmrc.gov.uk

You can find more information about bogus contacts and phishing emails claiming to be from HMRC on the GOV.UK website.

You can also report suspicious emails received to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Emails claiming to be from ‘Ofgem’ – 23 May 2022

We are warning residents about email circulating claiming to be from Ofgem stating that the recipient is ‘eligible to apply for energy bill rebate’.

The message then goes on to say that ‘you have to apply for the energy bill rebate before June 01 2022’ and then offers an link to ‘get your rebate via Ofgem portal’.

If you receive this or a similar email it is a scam, do not click on any links.

Criminals are experts at creating spoof messages that then link to fake websites using official logos and branding of trusted organisations to trick you into taking urgent action without closer inspection.

If you think you’ve fallen for a scam message and provided financial details, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one on the back of your bank card.

Spotted a suspicious email? You can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding the message to report@phishing.gov.uk

If you have received a contact which you believe to be a scam you can also report it to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep Cold Callers selling household products – 19 May 2022

We are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving reports of doorstep cold callers trying to sell household products.

This follows a number of reports from the Brooke and Poringland areas on Wednesday of young men doorstep cold calling.

Some of the callers were claiming to be an ‘ex offender’ or that they had ‘been in trouble with the police’, and this work was part of their ‘improvement’. The callers were carrying large holdall type bags or rucksacks containing a range of household products including packaged kitchen knives, scissors, and cleaning products.

Our advice is never deal with anyone who cold calls at your property offering to sell something.

It is possible these doorstep cold callers could move onto other locations in Norfolk.

Anyone sighting these sellers or other doorstep cold callers in Norfolk should contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

If you feel intimidated or sight doorstep cold callers and are concerned for vulnerable neighbours call 999.

Scam Alert – Scam Callers claiming to be Police Officers – 18 May 2022

We are highlighting a warning from Norfolk Constabulary for residents to be aware of telephone scammers pretending to be police officers after two Norfolk residents were targeted this week.

In the first incident a Norwich resident was persuaded to transfer £1,890 from their bank account. In the second incident a Downham Market resident was targeted but fortunately no money or financial details were transferred.

What is Courier Fraud?

Courier Fraud happens when a fraudster contacts a victim by telephone claiming to be a police officer, bank or from a government department, among other agencies. A number of techniques will then be adopted in order to convince the victim to hand over their bank details or cash, which may then be passed on to a courier.

Further advice includes:

  • Police officers, banks and other government agencies will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to another account as part of an undercover operation.
  • They will never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
  • The police will never ask you to handover money for safe keeping or as part of an operation.
  • The police will never send someone to your address to collect money, cards or PIN Numbers or ask you to deliver these to another location.

Try these steps if you are approached:

  • Stop – take a moment to think before parting with your money or information.
  • Challenge – Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests, only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect – Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen victim to a scam. Report it.

You can confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly. Ask for ID from individuals who have approached you in these circumstances.

If you're asked to telephone a bank, then always do it on a different phone to the one you were contacted on.

Communities can help by ensuring they share warnings about this type of approach with neighbours, family and friends, particularly elderly relatives to ensure they are aware of these scams and the warning signs.

If you received this, or a similar type of telephone call, contact Norfolk Police on 101 quoting Operation Radium

Alternatively, Contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111

If you believe a crime is in progress, always call 999

Scam Alert – Text messages claiming to be from ‘Apple’ – 18 May 2022

We are warning iPhone users about text messages circulating claiming that ‘Apple Pay was deactivated on this device’ or that ‘Your Apple Pay has been suspended due to suspicious activity’.

The message then offers a link to ‘reactivate the account’

If you receive this or a similar text message it is a scam, do not click on any links.

Criminals are experts at creating spoof messages that then link to fake websites using official logos and branding of trusted organisations to trick you into taking urgent action without closer inspection.

Apple offer the following advice to iPhone users as signs to help spot an Apple Pay scam message

  • The phone number doesn’t say it’s from Apple
  • The link doesn’t send you to Apple website
  • The text sounds different from other messages you’ve received from Apple
  • The text is asking for personal information or banking information
  • The message is unsolicited and contains an attachment

You can report scam text messages received by forwarding it to 7726.

If you think you’ve fallen for a scam message and provided financial details, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one on the back of your bank card.

If you have received a text message which you believe to be a scam you can also report it to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls regarding ‘loft insulation’ – 17 May 2022

We are again warning residents to be aware of telephone cold calls regarding loft insulation.

This follows a report from a Norfolk resident who received a call in which the cold caller claimed they were calling to offer a ‘free loft insulation check’.

Our advice is always be very wary of any approach made in a telephone cold call and never give or confirm any personal details or agree to someone visiting your home if approached in this manner.

If you need advice about cold calling or have been told you will receive a visit to your home during a cold call contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Information Alert – ‘Copycat’ websites – 16 May 2022

Copycat websites are those which offer services from Government Departments or Local Government but are not the official site and charge an additional fee over the genuine one for their ‘assistance’.

We are reminding Norfolk residents to continue to be aware of ‘copycat’ websites when looking to access official sites to apply or make payments for services.

Go to our 'copycat' page to find out more. 

Information Alert – Ticket Fraud – 12 May 2022

We are reminding Norfolk residents to be vigilant when purchasing tickets for events this summer.

Action Fraud report that during the 2021/22 financial year 4,982 people reported falling victim to ticket fraud, losing £3.8 million. In September 2021 they received 623 reports, the highest number s received since March 2020, as most festivals and events operated as usual for the first time since pre-pandemic.

Spot the signs of ticket fraud and protect yourself:

  • Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site
  • Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering your money if you become a victim of fraud
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Is the vendor a member of STAR? If they are, the company has signed up to their strict governing standards. STAR also offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help customers with outstanding complaints. See more information on buying tickets on the STAR website.

More information on ticket Fraud can be found on the Action Fraud website.

If you think you have been the victim of ticket fraud, contact your bank immediately. You can report scams to us via our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold calling – 11 May 2022

We are reminding residents to be on their guard to doorstep cold calling even if they are displaying a No Cold Calling sticker.

We are asking residents to report all doorstep cold calling incidents to us, especially if their property is displaying a No Cold Calling door sticker of any type. We are also offering the following advice:

  • If someone cold calls at your property remember it is your doorstep so your decision whether you even answer the door, if you can check through a spy hole or look from a window to see who is there
  • Think about your home security, make sure other doors to your property are locked before answering the front door
  • If the person is offering services or trying to sell something politely but confidently say you are not interested and close the door
  • If the person is claiming to represent an authority, organisation or charity ask to see ID. If ID is offered, ask if you can take it to check its validity. If you are given the ID close the door and contact the company or organisation on the ID by a number you find online or in the phone book, do not use information on the ID, it could be fake. If no ID is offered, the caller refuses to let you check it, or you can not verify it is genuine politely but confidently say you are not interested and close the door
  • As the cold caller leaves, if you can safely from inside your property watch and see:
    • Do they go to call at neighbouring properties
    • Do they return to a vehicle, is it sign written, can you see the make, model, colour and registration plate
    • Are they alone or working with others
  • Note down a description of the cold caller, why they were calling and who they say they were representing – all of this information is very useful to Trading Standards and the Police when looking at Cold Calling incidents

You can report doorstep cold calling incidents to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133 or to Norfolk Constabulary on 101. If you feel threatened or have concerns for vulnerable neighbours always dial 999.

If you would like one of our No Cold Calling door stickers call the Norfolk County Council customer service centre on 0344 800 8020.

Why not consider setting up a No Cold Calling Zone in your community? You can find out more about our scheme at www.norfolk.gov.uk/nccz

Information Alert - Home repairs or improvements? Make sure you #CHECK – 10 May 2022

Is the warmer weather turning your thoughts to planning work on your home or garden?

We are reminding consumers to think #CHECK when choosing a tradesman or business for the job.

  • Compare – Use Norfolk Trusted Trader and get three quotes
  • History – Ask for the traders’ references, recommendations and reviews and make sure you check them out
  • Establish the details – What is being done, by Who, by When and for How much?
  • Contract – Ensure everything is recorded
  • Keep all of the paperwork - This may be needed should anything go wrong

Scam Alert - Lottery scams - 9 May 2022

We are advising residents to be wary of callers claiming they have won a lottery or prize draw.

Criminals will contact unsuspecting victims informing them they have won a sum of money or a prize. The victim is then informed that they will need to pay an advance fee in order to receive their winnings. In reality the winnings are non-existent, and it is an attempt to steal the victim’s money, personal or financial information.

Some victims reported providing their bank details thinking they would be sent a small payment to verify the account. Criminals will use these details to steal the victim’s money.

The Action Fraud website advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud:

  • Stop: Unsolicited offers of large sums of money in return for a small upfront payment should always raise a red flag. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? Remember, you can’t win a prize in a competition you didn’t enter. It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you
  • Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040

The Gambling commission website also has advice on how to gamble safely. They advise to check that the business has a gambling license and that they are on the public register.

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

Information Alert – Checks when booking a holiday – 9 May 2022

Longing to book your next holiday? Be wary of deals or offers that seem too good to be true.

Remember to #TakeFive before parting with your hard-earned cash, as some deals that are advertised online may not be all they seem.

Stay ahead of the criminals by following our tips:

  • Read online reviews from reputable sources to check websites are genuine
  • Only use the secure payment method recommended by reputable online retailers
  • If possible, use a credit card when making purchases over £100 and up to £30,000 as you receive protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act

If you have visited a website you think is suspicious you can report it to the National Cyber Security Centre website using their ‘report a suspicious website’ form.

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 freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Fake competitions on Facebook – 5 May 2022

We are advising residents to think twice before sharing competitions on Facebook after again receiving reports of fake Facebook pages claiming to be associated with ‘Center Parcs’ offering free holidays at their UK sites.

The pages have been set up by scammers for ‘like-farming’, using interaction to harvest personal data.

Before liking a page or sharing a post, especially a big business like Center Parcs, check if it has a blue tick. This means the page has been verified by Facebook. You can also look at the Page transparency to see when it was created. The real Center Parcs Facebook page was created in August 2010. Fake page will often have been created more recently.

Don’t just look at the competition post. Look at the page history, and the other posts on the page. Does it look genuine?

If you come across a fake page on Facebook, report it by going to the page and tap *** from the top right and select “Give feedback or report this Page”. Select “Scams and Fake Pages”.
Fake promotions or competitions on Facebook typically urge users to either engage with a Facebook post (e.g. share and comment) to win a prize or click a link to claim a prize. Or possibly both.

Our recommendation is to never interact with these types of Facebook posts.

Center Parcs UK state they are not connected with these pages in anyway and that there are no genuine site location specific Facebook pages.

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 – Council Tax rebate scams – 4 May 2022

We are again warning residents to continue to be aware of scam contacts claiming to be relating to Council Tax rebates.

Following the announcement of the £150 Government rebate against Council Tax on band A to D properties scammers have been using cold calls, text messages and emails to exploit the situation.

Often these contacts claim that:

  • You need to update or confirm personal and financial information to receive your rebate payment
  • You need to make a small payment to ‘authorise your bank details’ before receiving your rebate payment
  • You risk losing your rebate payment without giving bank account details

Remember, if you currently pay your Council Tax by direct debit and you are eligible for the rebate the payment will be made automatically to the account connected to your direct debit.

If you receive a cold call claiming to be from your council asking for bank details for council tax payments over the phone hang up.

If you receive an email or text message claiming you need to update personal or financial information do not click on any links in the message.

If you need to confirm a contact about council tax is genuine, or you have any other council tax queries, contact your local council directly.

If you think you have received a scam contact you can report this to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from ‘Ministry of Justice’ – 3 May 2022

We are warning residents about telephone cold calls claiming to be from the ‘Ministry of Justice’ after a Norfolk resident was targeted this week.

During the call, which had been spoofed to appear to come from a genuine number used by the Ministry of Justice, the resident was told that there were ‘five tax offences against them’ that were ‘due to be heard in court today’. The caller then stated that ‘once the call was put on hold’ the resident would then be ‘transferred live to the court case’ unless they settled the case immediately over the phone.

The cold caller then attempted to get the resident to pay fees to settle the ‘tax case’ along with a number of other costs including court and barrister fees.

We always advise people to be very wary of claims made during telephone cold calls. If you receive this or a similar call it is not genuine. Do not interact with the call and hang up immediately.

HMRC offer advice on recognising and reporting scams relating to tax on the GOV.UK website.

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 freephone 0808 223 1133

Cold Calling Alert – Doorstep cold callers in the Wymondham area – 3 May 2022

We are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving a report of doorstep cold callers in the Wymondham area.

This follows the report of a male cold calling at properties offering driveway repairs and maintenance work.

You can report any doorstep cold calling incidents to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133 or Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

If you find your home needing improvement work try using Norfolk Trusted Trader. To search our trader directory and read feedback from their customers visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader

Information Alert – Lifting of poultry housing measures across the UK on 2 May 2022 – 28 April 2022

Plans have been announced to lift poultry and other captive birds housing measures across the UK from 00:01 on Monday 2 May 2022 unless you are if you are within a 3km Protection Zone.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone mandatory biosecurity measures will remain in place for all birds.

If you intend to allow your birds outside after 2 May, you must take action now to prepare the outside areas. Find out more information about poultry housing measures lifting on the GOV.UK website

If you need further advice, please contact us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133

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