Consumer alerts

You can report scams to our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline using their online report form or by calling 03454 04 05 06. 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.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from HMRC – 20 September 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are again receiving reports of telephone cold calls claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Reports include further incidents of automated recorded message calls saying ‘This is Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. We have been trying to reach you to let you know we are filing a law suit against you’. The call then goes on to provide a list of ‘options’ including ‘Press One to speak to your case officer’.

HMRC state that if you receive a suspicious call or voicemail from ‘HMRC’ about ‘a lawsuit being brought against you’ it is a SCAM. HMRC advise not to comply with any instructions given in the call and hang up.

Scam Alert – Binary Options investment scams – 19 September 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards have recently received a number of contacts regarding Binary Option investment scams.

Therefore we are taking the opportunity to repeat warnings and advice from Action Fraud regarding the offering of Binary Options as investment scams.

Binary Options are called ‘Binary’ because there can be only two outcomes – win or lose. To trade, all you need to do is bet on whether the price of something will rise or fall below a certain amount - if it is correct, you win and get paid. If not, you lose all of the money you originally invested.

You can choose various commodities to trade in such as gold, oil or stocks etc. The value of a Binary Option is made up from the value of the asset you want to trade.

For example, you could bet at 2.00pm that the value of gold will either increase or decrease in price by 2.05pm. You are not buying or selling the gold, just predicting whether the price of it will rise or fall. Time periods involved tend to be very short (5 or 10 minutes) but some firms offer longer periods to bet over.

Fraud occurs when Binary Trading Platforms:

  • Offer a higher than average return on an investment.
  • Refuse to credit customer accounts.
  • Break all contact with the customer.
  • Manipulate software to distort prices and payouts.

There are many legitimate Binary Option Traders but currently none of them are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

At present binary options are regulated by the UK’s Gambling Commission, but only if the firm has remote gambling equipment located in Britain.

If this is not the case, any binary options that the firm offers will not be regulated either by the Gambling Commission or by the FCA. 

Action Fraud offer the following advice around Binary Option scams:

  • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is
  • If you get a call out of the blue from someone offering investment opportunities, be wary; if in doubt don’t be polite, just hang up
  • If in doubt, where you think a firm offering binary options may not be trustworthy or legitimate, do not transfer money to them or provide them with your bank details
  • Be mindful of any bonus structures and clauses preventing you from withdrawing funds
  • Make sure you have read and considered conditions set out by the company making it mandatory to “turn over” your original deposit over a multiple amount of times before you can withdraw your money
  • The Gambling Commission advises that UK consumers should research the market carefully before participating in such activities. The Gambling Commission offer advice on their website
  • Check whether a company holds an operating licence by searching the Gambling Commission public register of licensees.

If you think you’ve been the victim of an investment scam you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their online reporting form.

If you need advice about scams you can contact our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online reporting form

Information Alert – Gas Safety Week 2017 – 18 September 2017

This week is Gas Safety Week 2017.

This year they are asking you to follow these top tips to keep yourself and your family safe:

  1. Get your gas appliances checked annually
  2. Check your gas engineer is Gas Safe registered
  3. Check your engineer’s ID card when they arrive to do the job.

The Gas Safety Week 2017 website www.gassafetyweek.co.uk has loads of further great information, tips and advice. Why not check it out?

Scam Alert – Emails claiming to be from Netflix claiming you need to ‘update information’ – 15 September 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning about emails claiming to be from Netflix stating you need to ‘update your payment information’ as they were ‘unable to process your last payment’.

The email is NOT from Netflix and anyone clicking on the link in the email will be taken to a fake version of the Netflix site which will attempt to gather account, personal and financial details which can then be used to hi-jack the account or commit further fraud.

If you receive this, or a similar suspicious email DO NOT click on any links or attachments and delete it.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold callers in the Norwich area offering high value cookware – 31 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard after Norfolk Police received reports of a cold caller in the south Norwich area offering ‘Le Creuset’ cookware.

The cold caller was reported to speak with a foreign accent and to be driving a saloon car with foreign number plates. The items offered are likely to be poor quality counterfeits of the genuine items.

Trading Standards advise NEVER deal with doorstep cold callers and NEVER be pressurised into buying on the doorstep no matter what claims are made about the items.

It is possible this cold caller may move on to other parts Norfolk.

Anyone sighting this sellers in Norfolk or concerned about rogue trader activity in their community can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or to Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep and telephone cold calls regarding solar panels – 10 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are again receiving reports from Norfolk residents who are being targeted with doorstep and telephone cold calls about solar panels.

In the first incident a resident was doorstep cold called in West Norwich. The cold caller stated he was from a ‘solar company’ and needed to carry out ‘maintenance’ on the property’s existing solar panels.

In the second incident a resident was telephone cold called by a company offering to install solar panels at the resident’s home. The call recipient described the cold caller as ‘very pressuring and persistent’ in attempting to arrange an appointment at the residents property.

We always advise to be very wary of any approach made in a doorstep or telephone cold call. NEVER agree to have work done to or around your property or for someone to visit your home if approached in these methods.

If you have solar panels on your property and you have concerns about their safety or are looking to have any maintenance done to them, we recommend using a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a member of the Solar Trade Association.

If you have received one of these calls, have agreed to a home visit or an installation following this type of call, please contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be Police Officers – 9 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are highlighting a warning from Norfolk Police regarding telephone cold calls claiming to be police officers needing ‘help with an investigation’.

This follows reports from Norfolk residents in the Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston areas who have received these calls.

During the call the cold caller claims that they are from the police force and have said that either the call recipient’s bank cards have been cloned to purchase items or they need to assist in an investigation by withdrawing cash.

Norfolk Police advise that genuine police officers will NEVER approach residents in this manner or ask them to withdraw cash as part of an investigation.

If you receive this type of call HANG UP, wait five minutes for the line to clear and then report the incident to Norfolk Police on the non-emergency number 101.

Scam Alert – Misleading ‘missed delivery’ cards – 7 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are highlighting a warning from Action Fraud about ‘something for you’ cards designed to look like they have come from Royal Mail.

The cards which lack the Royal Mail logo look almost identical to the ‘something for you’ slips that are posted through homes when a delivery can’t be made.

To organise a redelivery the cards ask recipients to call an 0208 number, which is not registered to Royal Mail. After ringing the number the automated message asks for your details and consignment number.

Royal Mail have stated: ‘The Royal Mail security team is looking into this incident as a matter of urgency. Customers should check delivery cards very carefully to ensure they are genuine, and remain vigilant. Although this card is similar to one of our Something For You cards, the Royal Mail logo is crucially missing. Customers should also consider whether they are expecting a delivery from the company named on the card.'

Action Fraud advise if you have any suspicions about a ‘missed delivery’ card left at your property, do not call the number provided or give any personal or card details and report the incident to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold callers in the Harleston area offering Gravel – 4 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard after Norfolk Police received reports of cold callers in the Harleston area offering gravel for driveways.

Trading Standards advises NEVER to deal with anyone who turns up at your door offering to do work or trying to sell items.

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.

It is possible these cold callers may move on to other parts Norfolk.

Anyone sighting these sellers in Norfolk or concerned about rogue trader activity in their community can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or to Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

Looking for a Trader you can Trust ? Norfolk Trusted Trader offers a list of accredited traders covering everything from plumbing to gardening. For more information or to see our online directory click here.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming they can ‘lower your Council Tax’ – 3 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are receiving reports about telephone cold calls stating they can ‘save you money on your council tax’.

During the call claims will be made often around being able to make savings of ‘hundreds of pounds per year’ including ‘claiming refunds for previous years’ and that ‘your neighbours are already paying less’.

The caller will then attempt to take an upfront fee for the service, usually between £50 and £100.

Recent reports have come from the Broadland and Kings Lynn areas in Norfolk.

Trading Standards always advises to be very wary of claims made during telephone cold calls and NEVER agree to a pay for a service if approached this way.

If you believe the council tax banding for your property is incorrect, there is a system to challenge this available via the Valuation Office which is FREE OF CHARGE. Full information on this is available via the GOV.UK website

If you receive one of these cold calls do not give or confirm any personal information, hang up and then report it to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold callers in the South Norwich area offering Garden Furniture – 2 August 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving reports of a male wearing a ‘uniform style’ polo shirt going door to door in the South Norwich area offering garden furniture.

The cold caller was claiming that he was ‘returning from a show’ and that ‘all of the furniture on the van was now 80% off’.

It is possible these cold callers may move on to other parts of Norwich & Norfolk.

Trading Standards advises NEVER to deal with anyone who cold calls at your property attempting to sell items regardless of what claims they make.

Anyone sighting these sellers in Norfolk or concerned about rogue trader activity in their community can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or to Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold callers in the West Norwich area offering Brick Paving for Driveways or Patios – 24 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving reports of males wearing hi-vis clothing calling at properties offering brick paving services.

Reports have come from the West Norwich area about repeated cold calls to properties offering to undertake brick paving to Driveways or Patios. The callers are described as persistent in their approach and are claiming that they are ‘already working in the area’.

These types of cold callers can deliver poor quality work which they require payment in cash and then are not able to be contacted on the phone number supplied should issues occur with the work undertaken.

It is possible these cold callers may move on to other parts of Norwich & Norfolk.

Trading Standards advises NEVER to deal with anyone who cold calls at your property offering home improvement services.

Anyone sighting these sellers in Norfolk or concerned about rogue trader activity in their community can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or to Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

Information Alert – Norfolk Illegal Tobacco Roadshow 2017 – 21 July 2017

People are being urged to help protect children in Norfolk by reporting illegal tobacco sales to aid the crackdown on traders who sell illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

From Tuesday 25 July Trading Standards and Public Health officers will be heading out on a week of roadshows across Norfolk and are calling on people to come along to find out more about illegal tobacco and its dangers.

People stopping by at the roadshows will be able to meet two tobacco sniffer dogs who have played a big part in the illegal tobacco seizures successfully made by Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers in the past year. And people will be able to see one of the dogs working with its handler to ‘find’ tobacco and demonstrating the important work they do.

Roadshow dates and locations:

  • Tuesday 25 July, Great Yarmouth Market Place
  • Wednesday 26 July, East Dereham Wrights Walk Shopping area
  • Thursday 27 July, Thetford King Street
  • Friday 28 July, Norwich the Forum
  • Saturday 29 July, King’s Lynn Vancouver Centre

During the week we will be sharing information from the roadshow events each day on our Facebook page and on Twitter

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from HMRC – 20 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are again receiving reports of telephone cold calls claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Reports include further incidents of automated recorded message calls saying ‘This is Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. We have been trying to reach you to let you know we are filing a law suit against you’. The call then goes on to provide a list of ‘options’ including ‘Press One to speak to your case officer’.

HMRC state that if you receive a suspicious call or voicemail from ‘HMRC’ about ‘a lawsuit being brought against you’ it is a SCAM.

HMRC advise not to comply with any instructions given in the call and hang up.

Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep cold callers in Hemsby area – 19 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving a report of cold callers in the Hemsby area.

Information was received about two well-dressed males wearing lanyards cold calling at properties claiming that fascia boards on the property ‘will need replacing’.

Trading Standards advises NEVER to deal with anyone who cold calls at your property offering to undertake services or attempting to sell you something.

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

Anyone sighting these cold callers in Norfolk or concerned about rogue trader activity in their community can contact Trading Standards through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline via their online reporting form or by telephone on 03454 04 05 06.

Information Alert – Thinking of Home Improvements? Make sure you #CHECK – 18 July 2017

Home Improvements are often one of the most stressful purchases that an individual can make. Be it changing windows to building an extension on your home, these are often high value purchases which can sometimes take years to save for or pay off. Because of this, Norfolk Trading Standards are encouraging consumers to think #CHECK when considering choosing a tradesman or business for your next home improvement project.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls offering to stop telephone cold calls – 13 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be aware of telephone cold calls stating they can help stop telephone cold calls.

Trading Standards are aware that there are a number of companies cold calling claiming to be able to offer this ‘service’ with some charging one off fees and others charging ongoing monthly fees.

It is extremely unlikely that any ‘service’ of this type can legitimately claim to be able to stop cold calls so any money paid is unlikely to achieve any benefit.

We always advise never to buy items or agree to ongoing services when approached by a telephone cold call.

If you have responded to one of these cold calls which you now believe may not have been genuine, or if the company is taking an ongoing monthly payment and you need further advice, contact our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline via their online reporting form or telephone 03454 04 05 06.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be offering ‘Government grants’ for replacement boilers – 12 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents about telephone cold calls claiming to be offering ‘Government grants’ for replacement boilers after receiving a number of reports in recent days.

Trading Standards advises 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.

Impartial advice on energy saving and accessing genuine grants is available for the Energy Saving Trust

If you need advice about telephone cold calling or have agreed to a visit during a cold call contact us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on their online reporting form or by telephone to 03454 04 05 06.

Scam Alert – Inheritance Scam Letters – 5 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards have recently been sent the Inheritance Scam Letter pictured below.

These types of letter have been circulating for many years with a wide range of reasons given as to why the recipient is being contacted and how the person mentioned in the letter died.



The following are easy ways to spot an inheritance scam letter:

  • The amount of money on offer and the percentage claimed that is available to you will be extremely large
  • Letters / documents provided by the fraudsters are generally badly written with spelling mistakes and poor grammar
  • Look out for webmail addresses such as @Yahoo or @Hotmail. They are freely available making them easy to set up and equally easy to shut down
  • Fraudsters often claim that the person who has died was the victim of a well-publicised incident, such as plane crashes and natural disasters. To add credibility, they may even use the identity of someone who really did die in the incident.

If you receive this, or a similar letter it is a scam. Do not reply and dispose of it in an appropriate way.

Scam Alert – Continued reports of telephone cold calls claiming ‘potential fire risks’ with solar panels – 4 July 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are again receiving reports from Norfolk residents who are being targeted with telephone cold calls about ‘potential fire risks with solar panels’.

During the calls the cold caller will claim that ‘an urgent visit is needed to undertake a fire risk assessment’ and in some calls it has been reported that the callers are making claims that if a fire is caused by the solar panels the fire service will not attend and house insurance will be invalid.

These claims are false but are being used to put pressure on the householder to agree to the visit. Where ‘risk assessment’ visits have taken place householders are being told the solar panel systems require ‘solar isolators’ and through pressure selling techniques a number of Norfolk residents have made payments of around £3,000 for this addition to their solar system.

We always advise to be very wary of any approach made in a telephone cold call and NEVER agree to someone visiting your home if approached in this manner.

If you have solar panels on your property and you have concerns about their safety or are looking to have any maintenance done to them we recommend using a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a member of the Solar Trade Association.

If you have received one of these calls, have agreed to a home visit or an installation following this type of call, please contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Information Alert – Play your part, act on Scams – Scams Awareness Month 2017 – 1 July 2017

This month is Scams Awareness Month, an opportunity to play your part, act on scams, and help to fight back against scammers who cost UK consumers millions of pounds each year.

 

During July we’ll be providing lots of advice and information to give you the skills and confidence to spot & stop scams. You can find this on our Facebook and Twitter pages, during weekly appearances on BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chrissie Jackson show or at the following events:

 

  • Friday 7 July – Wroxham Library Health Fair: Wroxham Library - 10.30am to 2.30pm
  • Tuesday 11 July – NatWest Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: NatWest, Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn - 10am to 3pm
  • Wednesday 12 July – Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: Tesco, Blue Boar Lane, Sprowston – 10am to 4pm
  • Friday 14 July – NatWest Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: NatWest, Gentlemans Walk, Norwich - 10am to 4pm
  • Thursday 20 July – Scams and Friends Against Scams Awareness Event: Tesco, Harford Bridge, Norwich – 10am to 4pm
  • Friday 21 July – Barclays Fraud and Scams Awareness Event: Barclays, Drayton Branch – 10am to 2pm
  • Monday 24 July - Barclays Fraud and Scams Awareness Event: Barclays, Aylsham Road Branch, Norwich – 10am to 2pm

More information on Scams Awareness Month is available on the Scams Awareness Month website.

 

Rogue Trader Alert – Reports of doorstep cold callers offering ‘mattresses with discounts for Blue Badge holders ’ – 29 June 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard after receiving reports of doorstep cold callers visiting properties claiming to be from a ‘UK Healthcare company’ and offering mattresses ‘with a discount for blue badge holders’.

Reports have been received from the Thetford and Attleborough areas but it is possible these cold callers may move on to other parts of Norfolk.

Trading Standards advises NEVER to deal with anyone who cold calls at your property offering to sell items.

Anyone sighting these sellers in Norfolk or concerned about rogue trader activity in their community can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or to Norfolk Constabulary via 101.

Scam Alert – National Awards Corporation Letters – 28 June 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards have recently been made aware of letters claiming to be from the ‘National Awards Corporation’. The most recent report was from the Downham Market area, but these letters may have been sent to residents in other parts of Norfolk as well.

The letters state that the recipient of the letter has an unclaimed sweepstakes winnings, in this case to the value of £1,502,000, and details how the prize can be claimed by contacting their ‘Legal Department’.

The letter also states that it is ‘a final notice deadline’ indicating that the consumer should act quickly to avoid losing the claim.

These letters are a scam and no prize is available. Anyone who makes contact via the details supplied will be persuaded to part with personal details and money ‘to release the funds into the UK’.

If you receive this type of letter dispose of it correctly without responding in any way.

Here are some simple steps you can take to avoid prize draw scams:

  • If you haven’t entered a prize draw or sweepstake then you can’t have won it. Never respond to unexpected communications
  • We don’t know of any official prize draw operators who ask for fees to collect winnings. Any request for a fee payment is a good indication that someone is trying to scam you
  • NEVER disclose your bank details or pay fees in advance to claim prize draw winnings
  • If they’ve provided an email address to respond to, be very suspicious of addresses such as @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com or numbers beginning with 07 because these are free to get hold of
  • Genuine prize draws thrive on publicity. If they ask you to keep your win a secret it’s likely to be a scam

Scam Alert – Further reports of telephone cold calls claiming ‘potential fire risks’ with solar panels – 27 June 2017

Norfolk Trading Standards are again warning residents about telephone cold calls claiming to be from Solar Energy companies.

In this version again the cold caller claims that there could be a ‘fault with your solar panels’ and that would be a ‘potentially serious fire risk’ The caller then claims that they ‘need to visit to fit solar isolators’.

Trading Standards advises always be very wary of any approach made in a telephone cold call and NEVER agree to someone visiting your home if approached in this manner.

If you have solar panels on your property and you are looking to have any maintenance done to them we recommend using a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a member of the Solar Trade Association

If you have received one of these calls, or have agreed to a home visit following this type of call, you can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online reporting form.