PEOPLE are being urged to be cautious when buying face masks online.

The plea has been issued by North Yorkshire County Council's trading standards team, which says there has been an increase in adverts on the internet for masks – but not all the products are as claimed.

It says some ads exaggerate the protection offered, plus there have been reports of masks being paid for but not received.

Tips include:

* Check the seller’s details and feedback before buying

* Avoid sellers outside the EU as there is no guarantee of safety

* Use a payment method that has protection

* Ignore claims such as ‘100 per cent effective at preventing the virus’

The county council has produced a step-by-step video showing how to make a mask, which can be found on its YouTube channel.

Also, the Government has provided instructions on making a mask using an old T-shirt or fabric – visit gov.uk.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, executive member for trading standards, said: “It is understandable that people want to do everything they can to prevent the spread of the disease and avoid becoming ill themselves. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous traders are taking advantage of this and I would advise anyone planning to buy masks to exercise caution and follow the trading standards tips."

Trading standards is also providing free advice to anyone planning to make masks to sell – call 01609 780780 or email business.advice@northyork.gov.uk.

Residents seeking advice about a problem with a mask they have bought, or wanting to report concerns about products on sale, should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1144.