People are being urged to watch out for a small number of criminals who are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Police and local authorities say while most are being kind to their neighbours at this time a few unscrupulous fraudsters are looking to make a profit.

Credit: PA

"We have seen the communities of Norfolk coming together to help one another during this challenging time. However, despite the need to stay home to stay safe we know from previous experience that sadly criminals will take advantage of any opportunity for their own means and this situation has been no different. We would urge residents, particularly those who are vulnerable or in isolation, to only deal with people they trust and that if anyone has any doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don’t engage and report suspicious behaviour to police. The majority of groups are well intentioned and will be working through charities, or through a local authority and should have proof that they are doing so.”

Chief Inspector Craig Miller, Norfolk Police

“We need to look out for ourselves and each other at this difficult time. Despite the overwhelming kindness being shown in communities across the county there are also a few unscrupulous fraudsters who are choosing to take advantage of the pandemic for their own profit. Remember there are no miracle cures or treatments for coronavirus so be aware of anyone offering those – they are fake. If you have a home emergency and need to find a reputable local company because the one you usually use is unavailable, do use a Norfolk Trusted Trader. And when online take care to never click on links, or open attachments, in emails or texts. Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council
Credit: PA

Trading Standards teams across the country have compiled a list of Covid-19 related scams and how to avoid them.

  • Criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact people at the door, by phone, post or online

  • Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (Covid-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.

  • Home cleaning services

  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.

  • Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.

  • There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.

  • There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.

  • Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.

  • People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.

  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID.

  • Be suspicious of requests for money up front.

  • If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine.

  • Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.

  • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.

  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.

  • Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.

  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.