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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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Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls offering warranty for washing machines – 2 December 2021

We are again warning Norfolk residents about telephone cold calls from an individual stating that your washing machine warranty has expired and needs extending.

The cold caller attempts to gather personal and financial details from the call recipient.

If you receive this or a similar call our advice is do not give or confirm any details and hang up.

If you want to check on warranty details of any goods within your home, contact the business where you purchased the item directly via their official website or phone number.

An article published by Which? gives further advice on receiving unwanted calls about appliance cover which can be found on the Which? website.

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

Scam Alert – WhatsApp ‘family member’ scam messages – 1 December 2021

We are again warning residents to be aware of WhatsApp messages where scammers attempt to impersonate family members to steal money

The message will often claim that ‘my phone is broken’ or 'I’ve just changed my number’ and the message will say that ‘you can contact me from here now’ and to ‘delete my old number‘.

If the message is responded to, further messages will follow generally leading to a problem being presented that needs money to be transferred or for an urgent bill to be paid.

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.

Scam Alert – Fake NHS ‘Omicron PCR test’ emails - 30 November 2021

We are receiving reports of email messages circulating claiming to be from the NHS stating the recipient needs to ‘get your free Omicron PCR today to avoid restrictions’.

Scam email "Get your free Omicron PCR today to avoid restrictions". The email includes the URL: nhs-order-pcr/COVID-10-omicron-research/

Anyone clicking on the link will be taken to a fake version of the NHS website which will attempt to gather personal and financial details.

Remember, the NHS will:

  • never ask for payment for COVID vaccines, the vaccine is free
  • never ask for payment for COVID testing, these can be requested free on the NHS website or by calling 119
  • never ask for your bank details

If you receive this, or a similar email, you can report it by forwarding the email to the National Cyber Security Centre's Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at report@phishing.gov.uk.

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

Information Alert – Scamnesty 2021 – 29 November 2021

Today sees Friends Against Scams launch their Scamnesty 2021 Campaign which will take place throughout December.

The Friends Against Scams team want to encourage everyone in the UK to send in any unwanted scam and nuisance mail that they receive into the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team completely free of charge.

If you, or someone you know is in receipt of scam or nuisance mail, the NTS Scams Team's Investigators want to see it. They already use the mail that they receive from Scam Marshals to great effect through their disruption techniques, but the team would like to see more and put a stop to these mailings landing on consumers' doorsteps.

To find out more about the Scamnesty visit the Friends Against Scams website.

Week One – Clairvoyant and faith-based mailings

Friends Against Scams’ focus for this week of Scamnesty is clairvoyant and faith-based mailings. These are letters that often will:

  • claim you might have an upcoming positive change in your life or that you're in trouble, but they can help
  • tell you that you need to purchase a ‘lucky’ charm for protection
  • say that wonderful things have been seen in your future, and all you need to make it come true is to send money or purchase an item

If you are receiving this type of letter be Scam Aware and send it to the Friends Against Scams team to investigate by posting it (no need for a stamp) to NTSST, Freepost, Mail Marchals

Information Alert – Avian Influenza: Poultry & Captive Bird housing measures to be introduced – 26 November 2021

Housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza are coming into force across the UK at one minute past midnight (00:01) on 29 November 2021.

This means that, from this time, it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors, or where this is not practical, to take steps to separate them from wild birds.

Keeping your birds undercover away from wild birds is vital to minimise the risk of them becoming infected with avian influenza by wild birds. But housing alone is not the only solution – it remains essential that you follow strict biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of disease spreading to your birds.

Further information on the housing measures is available from the GOV.UK website

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

Information Alert – Shopping online this Black Friday – 24 November 2021

Remember the #TakeFive message when looking for bargains online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Criminals may advertise products on auction sites at rock-bottom prices using fake payment pages to obtain your personal and financial information.

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.

You can report any suspicious online adverts to the Advertising Standards Agency.

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

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls regarding ‘loft insulation’ – 23 November 2021

We're continuing to warn residents to be aware of telephone cold calls regarding loft insulation. This follows further reports this week. During these calls a range of claims have been made including:

  • That ‘old loft insulation is likely to be causing condensation and mould’
  • That ‘they are currently in your area and need to arrange for an insulation expert to visit your property’
  • That ‘Government grants may be available’

Often the cold caller will then attempt to gather personal information, including home ownership status, and make an appointment for a home visit.

Our advice is always be very wary of any approach made in a telephone cold call. 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'll 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 – Avian Influenza confirmed, and controls put in place at a premises near Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk – 22 November 2021

On November 21 Avian influenza H5N1 was confirmed in birds at a premises near Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk. 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zones have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Details of the controls in place can be found in the declaratory order on our website.

We will be working with our colleagues from the Animal and Plant Health Agency to support local businesses and minimise the risk of the outbreak spreading.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Avian influenza is unconnected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Further advice regarding Avian Influenza for poultry keepers can be found on the GOV.UK website

Information Alert – Don’t get Petfished – 22 November 2021

Buying or adopting a pet is an exciting time. But do you really know the person behind the advert?

We're advising Norfolk residents to carry out thorough checks before buying a pet online to ensure that the animal you are purchasing is coming from a responsible seller.

The Government have recently launched a ‘Get your pet safely’ campaign which provides consumers with useful information about buying from a breeder to adopting an animal.

If you see an advert you think looks suspicious, advice on where to report it can be found on the Pet Advertising Advisory Group’s (PAAG) website.

You can also report suspicious adverts to Norfolk Trading Standards via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Reports of advance fee lottery frauds – 21 November 2021

We're warning Norfolk residents to be cautious of text messages and calls claiming you've won a lottery prize where the caller requests an advance ‘fee’ in order to transfer the winnings.

Victims are commonly asked to pay these advance fees by purchasing gift cards and relaying codes to the fraudster. In some instances, victims have reported being asked for personal and financial information in order to obtain their ‘winnings’.

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

Be wary of unsolicited callers instructing you to pay fees or fines using a gift card or voucher. Legitimate organisations would never do this.

The National Lottery offers advice on how to avoid lottery scams.

If you have received one of these calls, you can contact us through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Telephone cold calls claiming to be from ‘Amazon’ – 20 November 2021

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

We've had reports from Norfolk residents who have received a cold call from a female claiming to work for Amazon. She states that there is a problem with your Amazon account and attempts to gather personal, account and 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 is 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.

Information Alert – Avian Influenza – 18 November 2021

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77(option 7).

The APHA (Animal & Plant Health Agency) can then collect some of these birds and test them to help understand how avian influenza is distributed geographically and in different types of bird.

Avian influenza has been confirmed in birds at premises in England, Wales, and Scotland.

The following cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in England:

  • Droitwich Spa, Wychavon, Worcestershire (rescue centre - captive birds - non-poultry)
  • Alcester, Bidford, Warwickshire (small commercial poultry flock)
  • Frinton-on-Sea, Tendring, Essex
  • Salwick, Fylde, Lancashire (commercial poultry)
  • Leeming Bar, Hambleton, North Yorkshire (commercial poultry)
  • Kirkham, Fylde, Lancashire (commercial poultry)

The following cases of avian influenza H5N1 (pathogenicity pending) have been confirmed in England:

  • Willington, South Derbyshire, Derbyshire (commercial poultry)

Further advice regarding Avian Influenza for poultry keepers can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Scam Alert – HMRC issue reminder to self-assessment users to be scam aware – 18 November 2021

As HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) prepares to issue emails and SMS to self-assessment customers, the department is reminding them to be on their guard after nearly 800,000 tax-related scams were reported in the last year.

Fraudsters use self-assessment to try and steal money or personal information from unsuspecting individuals. In the last year alone, HMRC has received nearly 360,000 bogus tax rebate referrals.
Never let yourself be rushed. If someone contacts you saying they’re from HMRC, wanting you to urgently transfer money or give personal information, be on your guard.

HMRC will also never ring up threatening arrest. Only criminals do that.

Criminals use emails, phone calls and text messages to try and dupe individuals, and often mimic government messages to make them appear authentic. They want to trick their victims into handing over money or personal or financial information.

Customers can report suspicious phone calls using a form on the GOV.UK website. They can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls offering a ‘free solar panel service’ – 17 November 2021

We are warning residents about telephone cold calls offering a ‘free solar panel service’.

This follows a report from a resident who received a cold calling, from a company unknown to them, during which the cold caller claimed they needed to arrange to visit the residents’ property to undertake a ‘free service’ on the property’s solar panels.

We advise to 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 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 freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – International FIFA World Cup Online Lottery Letters – 15 November 2021

We are again warning residents to be vigilant for letters claiming to be from the ‘International FIFA World Cup Online Lottery’. This follows further reports of letters being received claiming that ‘a lump sum of £825,000’ had been won and providing details to ‘begin your 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 as part of an ‘upfront processing fee’.

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

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

  • If you haven’t entered a lottery then you can’t have won it. Never respond to unexpected communications
  • Official lotteries in other countries operate in much the same way as the UK’s National Lotto. No official lotteries that we know of contact people who know nothing about the lottery to tell them of their win
  • We don’t know of any official lottery 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 a lottery win
  • 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 lotteries thrive on publicity. If they ask you to keep your win a secret, it’s likely to be a scam
  • Many examples of lottery scam letters have bad spelling and grammar – see this as a warning that fraudsters are at work

Scam Alert – Text messages claiming to be from Hermes – 11 November 2021

We are continuing to receive reports of fake text messages claiming to be from Hermes stating you need to ‘book a redelivery’ for a missed parcel.

The scam text message opening line reads 'HERMES: Sorry we missed your delivery today ...'

The text message contains a link which leads to a bogus website that attempts to gather personal information and requires payment details for the redelivery.

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

If you receive this text 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 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 0808 223 1133.

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls regarding ‘saving energy’ – 10 November 2021

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

This follows a report from a Norfolk resident who received a call this week during which the cold caller stated they were ‘in the area’ and were arranging visits to properties to ‘give advice on saving energy’.

The cold caller then went on to ask a range of questions about the resident's 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 - Investment scams and fake cryptocurrency exchanges – 10 November 2021

We are continuing to receive reports of individuals falling victim to online investment scams, including fake cryptocurrency exchanges. Losses to these scams range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds.

Bitcoin is the most famous cryptocurrency, but there are more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies including other well-known ones such as Ethereum and Litecoin. Cryptocurrencies only exists online and are not controlled by a bank, treasury or country meaning you can’t get physical notes or coins from the bank.

Our advice is to always ensure you understand a cryptocurrency or an investment before transferring any money.

A cryptocurrency scam can take many forms, this could include:

  • A fake cryptocurrency which doesn’t or will ever exist
  • A bogus investment which promises to put money in a legitimate cryptocurrency
  • A dangerous website link that then downloads malware onto your computer

Which? Have put together useful guidance on how to spot an investment scam.

The Financial Conduct Authority website also provides further details on how to avoid investment scams online.

If you think you have received an investment offer that you believe is a scam or you have become a victim of a scam, you can report this to us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.

Scam Alert – Automated telephone cold calls making claims about ‘your National Insurance Number’ – 8 November 2021

We are again receiving reports of automated telephone calls making claims about National Insurance numbers.

Recent reports have included claims that:

  • ‘Your National Insurance number has been used in numerous criminal activities’
  • ‘Your National Insurance number has been used in (location)’

Some calls are claiming to be from the ‘National Crime Agency’, others are saying they are ‘Inland Revenue’. The calls go on to instruct the recipient to call a stated number to ‘resolve the issue’ or to ‘Press 1 to speak to an advisor’ claiming that ‘failure to speak to them’ will result in the suspension of your National Insurance number.

These calls are a scam and the claims made are not genuine.

If you receive this type of call you can report it to HM Revenue & Customs by emailing phishing@hmrc.gov.uk including where possible the following details:

  • Date and time of the call
  • Phone number used
  • Content of the call

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

News Alert – Avian Influenza Protection Zone – 5 November 2021

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Great Britain.

The AIPZ means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.

The AIPZ now in force across Great Britain, does not include a requirement to house birds. However, this is being kept under constant review. With the increased risk of avian influenza during the
winter, the need to include a mandatory housing requirement in the AIPZ may happen.

The AIPZ means bird keepers across Great Britain must:

  • Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry
  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources
  • Feed and water your birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds
  • Minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures
  • Clean and disinfect footwear and keep areas where birds live clean and tidy
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas
  • Keep free ranging birds within fenced areas, and that ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances e.g. zoo birds)

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

Scam Alert – “Charity” Christmas cards, calendars and postcards – 4 November 2021

With the Christmas Holidays soon approaching, the county has seen a rise in reports concerning unsolicited goods.

Christmas cards, calendars and postcards in the Christmas theme are being sent out now by various “charities” with a note requesting a donation if you are happy with the goods. Some ask for the 3-digit security code that often appears on the back of bank cards.

If the goods are clearly unsolicited (not intended for someone else/incorrectly delivered) and they are addressed to you then there is no obligation to return the goods to the sender. They are seen in law as an unconditional gift.

People often ask us if they should contact the sender. You are under no obligation to contact them; our advice is to secure the goods for a reasonable amount of time then dispose of them how you wish.

If you receive charity goods, it is worth searching the “charities register” at gov.uk to find those genuine charities.

If you do decide to send a donation, never send your 3-digit security number through the post, or release it on the telephone to someone without checking to confirm it is from a genuine source.

If you have received an email 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.

Information Alert – mobile telephone “account takeover”– 4 November 2021

Account takeover is when a criminal gains control of your mobile account for two main purposes:

  • To intercept communications from your other contacts such as your bank, email provider or other online accounts that use mobiles to reset passwords
  • Ordering upgrades, accessories or replacement sims and applying for additional connections

Fraudsters may call you, sometimes several times, and appear genuine, sending you one-time passwords to reset your account. They then take over control of your mobile account.

The technical term for this type of fraud is phishing.

Smishing is when this happens through a text message. You may receive a message from an unknown mobile number.

An example of this is: - “02: your bundle will be cancelled on 21/10/2021 as we could not verify a payment method. To avoid this visit https://02-bundle-renew.com”.

A genuine provider would not just send a text to close an account. The fear that this might happen makes the recipient click on the link and potentially divulge all their personal information which leads to an account takeover.

If in doubt call your provider to check, do not click on any link. You can report phishing attempts to report@phishing.gov.uk. Stay safe!

Scam Alert – Delivery insurance scam – 4 November 2021

We are raising awareness of this as a Norfolk resident could have been a victim to this kind of scam. Our informant advertised an item for sale and then received a message from a potential purchaser who said they would like to buy the item and send over a courier to collect the goods. On arrival, this courier would pass over the cash.

Both parties agreed a date and the seller parted with their name, their address and email details.

The scammer then told the caller that they would have to pay an insurance amount to cover carriage up front. The trickster promised to arrange this and then reimburse the seller with the insurance amount as part of the full cash settlement in the envelope to be passed over by the courier.

The usual excuses were given by the scammer to requests for the buyer’s address details such as “I’m not home much” and “I’m in between addresses” in attempts to deceive the seller. The buyer was seeking the seller's bank details with no intention of purchasing the item.

Our informant was quick to identify that it was an attempt at a scam and refused details. They contacted their bank who confirmed the caution exercised had prevented a fraud.

Sadly, these scammers are persistent. They now message the seller saying that there will be serious consequences if they do not go ahead and complete the deal. This is untrue and you should not continue any further contact.

If you have receive an email 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 – Royal Mail parcel postage scam – 3 November 2021

We have seen a re- emergence of the pending parcel scam at the start of November in the run up to Christmas.

The scam text message contains the opening line: 'Post Office: Your package has been sent to a local post office due to an unpaid shipping fee'.
Be wary of fake emails claiming you need to pay a shipping fee to retrieve your parcel.

Criminals are experts at creating spoof emails that use the official logo and branding of trusted organisations to trick you into taking urgent action by clicking on links without close inspection.
#TakeFive and contact the organisation directly using a known email or phone number instead of clicking on links.

You can protect others from falling for this scam by forwarding scam emails report@phishing.gov.uk

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

Cold Calling Alert – Telephone cold calls for loft insulation – 4 November 2021

We are reminding Norfolk residents this week about further instances of telephone cold callers targeting the Norfolk area trying to sell loft insulation as we approach the Winter months.

These unsolicited callers refer to themselves as 'Energy Advisors'. Some have been implying they have links to the summit in Glasgow, saying they are 'Climate Crisis Advisors'.

Often, they will refer to existing insulation being a health hazard or not meeting Government criteria and therefore will need removing and upgrading immediately.

These people are scammers. Hang up and report to our partners listed at the top of this page.

If you need repairs, Norfolk’s Trusted Trader scheme has traders checked and backed by us.

Scam Alert – WhatsApp ‘family member’ scam messages – 21 October 2021

We are warning residents to be aware of WhatsApp messages where scammers attempt to impersonate family members to steal money.

A Norfolk resident contacted BBC Radio Norfolk after receiving a WhatsApp message which said ‘Hello Mum. Just changed my number so you can contact me from here now so you can save it and delete my old number‘.

Believing it to be her daughter the resident changed the number in her phone. The following day the resident then received further messages via WhatsApp saying that due to having the new phone she couldn’t access her bank account and needed to pay an invoice for £1,500.

At this point the resident became more suspicious and contacted her daughter via her original number to find out her daughter knew nothing about this and hadn’t changed her phone number.

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.

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