PEOPLE are being urged to be on their guard against scammers who are targeting vulnerable households during lockdown.

The plea has been issued to residents across the region after the National Cyber Security Centre revealed that over 2,000 online fraud attempts had been identified and blocked in the past month.

Cons have included fake websites and fraudulent online shops.

An awareness campaign is being backed by OFTEC, the registration body for off-grid heating.

Spokesman Malcolm Farrow said: "Since the lockdown was announced, communities across West Yorkshire have come together to support each other during this uncertain and unsettling time – but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have sought to take advantage of the situation and targeted households through scams or other fraudulent activity.

"We all need to be on the lookout for suspicious calls, emails or visitors and regularly keep in virtual touch with vulnerable family, neighbours and friends to ensure they are not being harassed in any way.

Advice includes:

* Be wary of any emails that say you can obtain a refund on taxes, heating bills or other expenses during the lockdown. Avoid clicking on links as they may contain viruses or direct you to fake websites which are designed to impersonate well-known organisations such as banks

* Adverts offering miracle coronavirus cures or treatments are fake and should be ignored or reported through the relevant social media platform. These adverts may occasionally be mistakenly shared by a friend or family member but this does not make them any more legitimate

* With more people at home, there is an increased risk of telephone scams from criminals pretending to be calling from a bank, mortgage provider or utility company. If you receive an unexpected or suspicious call, do not share any financial or personal information and hang-up immediately. If you have any concerns about a call you have received, contact your provider directly

* Unqualified individuals may impersonate heating technicians or other tradespeople. If your boiler needs essential work, use a qualified technician who is GasSafe (for mains gas) or OFTEC (for heating oil or solid fuel) registered and ensure they follow Government guidelines on social distancing.

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