Trading Standards Reports Oct-Nov 2015
Urban Fraud Myths
Dating fraud: Over the last year 3,543 have reported dating fraud to Action Fraud losing on average £33k. Date safe Date Safe
Spoofing: Find out more about spoofing and how to protect yourself
Pin safety: Read the Joint Declaration by Police & UK Banks listing warning signs of phone scam imposters
Warwickshire Trading Standards have recently received a large number of reports about criminal gangs phoning residents, falsely claiming to be calling from the Ministry of Justice. The callers usually claim to be calling to provide the consumer with some sort of grant, reward or compensation.
Beware, don’t provide any personal or financial information to people who phone you!
Nuneaton residents are warned to beware of rogue traders offering roofing work door to door in the local area. Warwickshire Trading Standards advises residents not to buy at the door. You can’t tell a good trader from a bad one on the doorstep. Keep your door closed! Rogue traders often claim to be based locally but instead use false addresses and 0800 or local phone numbers linked to untraceable mobile phones. Their quotes may begin low but soon rocket and the work is typically done to a very poor standard! Rogue traders dress smartly and can appear very plausible. They often use professional cards and flyers and may even have their own websites. Rogue traders often offer to replace loose roof tiles, or pressure wash or ‘treat’ a roof with special (often red coloured) ‘heat insulating paint’.
Loose Roof Tiles: Rogue traders often falsely claim that an owner’s property has loose roof tiles as it is difficult to for a householder to verify if this is true or not. Once on the roof, rogue traders can then ‘find’ other jobs to do and may even damage roofs on purpose, just so they can charge to repair them.
Jet Spraying Roofs: Rogue traders may offer to jet spray a roof to clean it and remove moss. However, roofing experts warn that roof tiles should not be subject to high-pressure washing. To do so can potentially damage or break the tiles and remove any aesthetic granular tile finish.
‘Insulating Paint’: Rogue traders may offer to paint your roof with (often red coloured) ‘special insulating paint’. There is no evidence that the products they would use would have any insulating qualities. Further, to allow them to carry out this ‘work’ may damage your roof.
Consumers requiring further advice or information, or to report a rogue trader should phone Warwickshire Trading Standards on 03454 040506 (via Citizens Advice Consumer Service).
Consumers are warned to beware of criminal gangs cold calling consumers to offer them loyalty grants for working ‘a long time.’ The bogus callers often ask for bank details or advance fees from the consumer to claim the non existent grant.
NEVER reveal personal or financial information to callers.
A Warwickshire resident reported receiving a telephone call from someone claiming to be from BT. The caller claimed that BT had not received the consumer’s direct debit information and would be cut off. The caller knew the consumer’s address and asked for the name of the consumer’s bank and other bank details. The consumer revealed the name of their bank and the caller said they would contact them direct. A few minutes later the consumer’s phone rang again. This time the caller claimed to be from the consumer’s bank requesting credit and debit card details and PIN numbers etc. The consumer did not reveal any bank account numbers or PINS. These phone calls were bogus and the criminals behind them hoped to obtain enough bank information to steal money and possibly commit identity fraud.
NEVER reveal any personal or financial/banking information to anyone phoning you, however plausible they may sound. Genuine callers will always be happy for you to phone back on a publicly listed phone number. Always wait several minutes before phoning back or use another phone. Some fraudsters keep phone lines open!
Warwickshire residents are receiving unexpected phone calls from representatives of a ‘Government’ group to advise them that, as they were paying their bills, they had been added to a random draw and would now be receiving an £8000 award! This advanced fee fraud scam usually leads to the caller asking for money up front before the £8000 ‘grant’ is paid out. In reality, the Government group, random draw and grant is a bogus story concocted by criminal gangs.
22/10/2015: Bogus Trading Standards Officers warning!
Warwickshire residents who have been the victim of rogue traders and cowboy builders in the past are warned to beware of visits from bogus Warwickshire Trading Standards Officers.
A householder living on the Coventry/Warwickshire border who had previously been the victim of rogue roofers was approached on her doorstep by a man who falsely claimed to be a Trading Standards Officer. The man showed the householder a false ID badge with a photo on it.
The caller stated that the the rogue traders who had carried out the ‘roofing’ work were now in court being prosecuted. He then said that the householder would be awarded compensation but before this could happen, he needed to make a report/survey which would involve the hiring of equipment costing £5000. The resident was asked to pay this ‘cost’.
The resident did not pay any money.
After the visit, the householder received a phone call from another person again falsely claiming to be a Warwickshire Trading Standards Officer. The bogus caller claimed that the resident was holding up the case by not paying the £5000 and became aggressive! The resident put the phone down.
Warwickshire Trading Standards Service are highly unlikely to visit a consumer’s home unless they have already been asked to by the consumer or a trusted friend or relative.
Warwickshire Trading Standards will NEVER ask a consumer for money.
Consumers should always ask for identification and if in any doubt, phone Warwickshire Trading Standards on a publicly listed telephone number to verify an individual’s identity.
If in doubt, keep your door closed and call the Police
This is the third report of a bogus Trading Standards Officer this year.
By Simon Cripwell on Oct 14, 2015 02:18 pm
Warwickshire Trading Standards has recently received a number of complaints and enquiries about charity donations. Residents have reported being approached on their doorstep, often in the evening, by people selling lottery and prize draw weekly or monthly ticket subscriptions, supporting a range of charities. Residents are asked to sign up and provide their bank details. These approaches are sometimes made over the phone as well. Residents may think they are signing up directly with a charity, but often they are actually signing up with a lottery and prize draw gambling business who claim to support the charity or charities in question and give an unspecified percentage of their profits away to good causes. The businesses may be licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission but they are not charities and will not have a charity number or be listed on the Charity Commission website (use their search facility to look up charities).
If you want to be sure you are giving directly to a charity, ask ‘are you a charity?’ and ‘can I see your charity number?’
It is a criminal offence to falsely claim to be a charity. If in doubt do not sign up.
Warwickshire Trading Standards does not in any case advise consumers to give any personal or financial information to unexpected doorstep or telephone callers.
Warwickshire businesses are being offered help and advice by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards to understand and comply with the biggest change to consumer law in the UK for a generation.
Small businesses in Warwickshire, and especially in Nuneaton and North Warwickshire are urged to book now for a second helping of ‘‘Phish and Chips’’, an expert led free cyber-crime and data-security advice and education seminar.
Consumers who unwittingly purchase puppies illegally smuggled from abroad could face an unexpected bill for more than £1000 for quarantine fees, warn Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards
Warwickshire Trading Standards is warning residents to beware of unexpected phone calls from people falsely claiming to represent Warwickshire County Council. The bogus callers claim they are investigating an accident in which the resident was involved.
Several Warwickshire residents have already contacted Trading Standards to complain.
These phone calls are NOT being made by Warwickshire County Council or their representatives.
The bogus callers may claim they are calling from fictitious departments such as ‘Warwickshire County Council Investigations Department’.
Trading Standards understand that these phone calls are probably being made by unscrupulous ‘no-win no fee’ claims management businesses or people connected to them. The calls are made at random, hence most recipients have not been involved in any sort of accident.
On finding someone who has had an accident, the bogus caller would then either offer to represent them in a compensation claim (for which they would receive a hefty percentage of any compensation paid), or sell the resident’s details on to a claims management company.
Trading Standards advice:
- Never provide any personal or financial information to cold callers
- Always put the phone down and report bogus callers to Warwickshire Trading Standards on 03454 040506
- For more advice visit Warwickshire Trading Standards
Consumers are warned to beware of bogus callers.
One consumer reported receiving a cold call from someone who claimed to be from VISA, stating that the consumer had not signed their bank cards. The consumer was then asked for their bank details and card numbers.
Another reported receiving a bogus cold call from the ‘Pensions Office’. The caller asked the consumer to confirm their pension payment details.
- NEVER provide personal or financial information to a cold caller, whoever they may claim to represent.
- ALWAYS put the phone down
A Warwickshire resident reported receiving an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be doing home safety checks in partnership with the Police and Fire Service. The caller asked the householder a series of personal questions including their age, marital status, if they lived on their own and whether they owned or rented the property.
Rogue high pressure sales people will falsely claim to be working with the Police or Fire Service in order to make them sound credible before attempting to sell the consumer often high priced and unnecessary products. The caller may also have been gathering personal information they can sell on to other cold callers.
- NEVER provide personal or financial information to a cold caller, whoever they may claim to represent.
- ALWAYS put the phone down
Warwickshire Trading Standards are warning Nuneaton area residents to beware of rogue traders/bogus callers. A Nuneaton resident reported finding a man in their garden. He claimed a neighbour had reported rats and wanted to pour a green liquid down their drain. He then went on to say he worked for the ‘Council’ before offering to carry out some re-pointing work on the home-owners property.
- NEVER employ an unexpected caller to carry out work on your home.
- NEVER allow an unexpected caller access to your home.
Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone this week and Warwickshire Trading Standards is urging consumers to be on the lookout for criminals trying to exploit the hype by flooding popular social media platforms with misleading adverts and bogus offers.
- iphone ‘flash sales’ which are really prize draws
- paying to access ‘iphone for £1 exclusive offers’ which in reality land the consumer with an unwanted subscription set up using a continuous payment authorities (CPAs) to take money from people’s accounts without their informed consent.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
By Simon Cripwell on Aug 27, 2015 04:50 pm
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a FREE service.
However, some fraudsters are cold calling Warwickshire residents claiming to represent the TPS and asking for bank card details. The fraudsters claim that the consumer’s card details on the TPS website have expired and need updating. But, the TPS is a free service and they do not take or hold credit or debit card information or ask for payment.
NEVER reveal personal or financial information to cold callers.
25/08/2015 ‘Free’ burglar alarm warning
Warwickshire residents are warned to beware of cold calls from traders offering to survey their property to install a ‘free’ burglar alarm. ‘Free’ security alarms may come with expensive ‘monitoring’ contracts that can cost consumers hundreds or thousands of pounds a year. In some cases the alarms may not even be suitable for the consumer’s property or personal needs.
A Warwickshire consumer reported receiving an email to say that she had won a gift of skincare products. The consumer was asked to pay for postage and packing by debit card to receive the ‘prize’. However, further payments totalling almost £200 were then taken from her account.
Trading Standards advise consumers to be very wary if they asked to pay postage and packing to receive a free trial or a ‘prize’.
Never reveal personal or financial information to businesses you don’t know or trust.
Consumers who have experienced this problem should contact Warwickshire Trading Standards for help and advice on 0345 404 0506.
Residents from across the County have reported receiving bogus phone calls from people claiming to be calling from Talk Talk.
One resident reported that a fraudulent caller told him he had a scam on his computer and a problem with his router. The caller quoted the resident’s Talk Talk account number and told him that £2000 would be placed in to his account. However, before this was to happen, the resident was asked to send £200 by money transfer to an address in Thailand!
Another resident received a similar phone call and gave the bogus Talk Talk fraudster access to her computer. She was then asked to set up an account with a money transfer service on-line, revealing her bank details to the fraudster!
Similar scam calls have also been made by fraudsters claiming to represent Apple and Microsoft!
Never reveal your personal or financial information to cold callers.
Warwickshire consumers are warned to beware of bogus websites selling high-end televisions. The fraudsters set up professional looking websites offering televisions for sale. They give false addresses and ask for bank transfers as the only acceptable form of payment.
Trading Standards are aware of consumers who have lost almost £500 after TVs they purchased never arrived.
All the bogus websites Trading Standards were aware of in relation to these incidents have already been shut down.
- beware of traders offering goods that are considerably cheaper than those offered by other on-line traders.
- beware of traders that will only accept bank transfers as acceptable forms of payment. If possible always use an escrow service such as PayPal (thus protecting your card details) and remember, if you pay by credit card for goods worth more than £100 and they don’t arrive, you can claim your money back from the credit card company under the Section 75 rules.
- always Google the name of a trader you have never heard of before your buy, other customers may already have reviewed them.
- businesses should give an address on their website. Why not look at the property on Google street view? Does the address look like a genuine business premise or is it a residential property? Perhaps it doesn’t exist at all?
- bogus on-line traders may claim they have been operating their websites for years. However, you can find out when a .co.uk website was registered by searching it on Nominet
A Leamington Spa resident reported receiving an unexpected phone call from someone who claimed that if he paid £69.99 they would get him a refund on his Council Tax of £3,000!
Beware of cold calls and never reveal your personal or financial information!