RESIDENTS have been urged to be on guard as bogus callers attempt to cash in on the coronavirus crisis.

Dudley Council’s trading standards team has received reports of local people being approached by bogus callers who are going door-to-door claiming to be authorised by the council to offer cleaning services.

Action Fraud has also seen a rise of reports about coronavirus themed scam emails attempting to trick people into revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

Residents are advised to protect themselves by making sure they do not click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, do not reply to unsolicited messages asking for personal or financial information, always research a company before making payments online and always use a credit card not a debit card.

The local authority has warned residents to only let people in their property if they are 100 percent sure they know who they are.

Genuine people will in most cases call ahead to book an appointment first and will carry ID with them.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: "It’s shocking that at a time when we all need to come together, a minority of people can behave so despicably targeting our most vulnerable residents in a hope they will make some quick cash.

"We’re urging all our residents to be on their guard and report anyone they believe to be behaving suspiciously to our bogus caller helpline."

Trading standards have also received reports of local businesses ramping up the cost of essential items, which are in limited supply.

Councillor Barlow added: "The fact we’ve had reports of some shops hiking up their prices is totally unacceptable. Those businesses are exploiting people at the most difficult time and they should be utterly ashamed of their behaviour. I hope local residents remember what they’ve done and think twice about supporting them in the future."

Anyone who suspects a bogus caller is operating in their area should call 999 in an emergency or contact the dedicated bogus caller hotline on 01384 812045.