Author Archive: southashfordcf

Chair of South Ashford Community Forum

Coronavirus scams cost victims over £800k in one month

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totaling over £800k.

Of the 21 reports, ten were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. One victim reported losing over £15k when they purchased face masks that were never delivered.

We have also received multiple reports about coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.  

One common tactic used by fraudsters is to contact potential victims over email purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

Reporting numbers are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

Protect yourself

Watch out for scam messages:

Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

Shopping online:

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

Protect your devices from the latest threats:

Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats. For information on how to update your devices, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information: how to stay safe

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Action Fraud, 6 March 2020
https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-scam-costs-victims-over-800k-in-one-month

Council Tax 2020/21

The main precepting authorities for residents of the Borough have announced their proposed precepts for the year commencing 6 April 2020 as shown in the table below for a Band D property:

Authority19/20% Rise£ Rise20/21
KCC £1,299.42 3.99%£51.84 £1,351.26
ABC£162.503.08%£5.00£167.50
FRA£77.761.97%£1.53£79.29
PCC£193.155.18%£10.00£203.15
Total unparished £1,732.83 3.95%£68.37 £1,801.20

The total Council Tax for each property band is shown in the table below.

BandProportion Band D%
Band D
2019/202020/21Rise
pa
2019/20
pm
2020/21
pm
Rise
pm
A6/967% £1,155.22 £1,200.80 £45.58£115.52£120.08£4.56
B7/978% £1,347.76 £1,400.93 £53.18£134.78£140.09£5.32
C8/989% £1,540.29 £1,601.07 £60.77£154.03£160.11£6.08
D9/9100% £1,732.83 £1,801.20 £68.37£173.28£180.12£6.84
E11/9122% £2,117.90 £2,201.47 £83.56£211.79£220.15£8.36
F13/9144% £2,502.98 £2,601.73 £98.76£250.30£260.17£9.88
G15/9167% £2,888.05 £3,002.00 £113.95£288.81£300.20£11.40
H18/9200% £3,465.66 £3,602.40 £136.74£346.57£360.24£13.67

Some authorities have yet to vote on their budgets.

References:

East Stour Park decision

Riverside view of proposed development

The decision notice for the East Stour Park development has been published by Ashford Borough Council.

The reason given or refusal is:

The proposal would be contrary to Policies SP1 and ENV2 of the Ashford Local Plan (ALP) 2030, the Green Corridor Action Plan 2017 supporting the ALP and policies in the NPPF and would be harmful to interests of acknowledged planning importance for the following reasons;

  1. the application site is located within the designated Ashford Green Corridor and the proposed residential development is not compatible with, or ancillary to, the principal role and current use of the application site and would be harmful to the existing visual function of this part of the Green Corridor through the loss of an important undeveloped open space ‘buffer’ located between the existing built-up area to the west and the A2042 located to the east,
  2. as a consequence of (a) above, the proposal would result in a detrimental change to the landscape character and visual amenity of this part of the Green Corridor,
  3. the proposal would give rise to a detrimental change in the ability of the site to continue to function as a wide undeveloped corridor supporting varied wildlife habitat, wildlife connectivity and biodiversity,
  4. the proposal would result in unjustified residential development on land which is flood zone 3, and
  5. the site is not a brownfield site and the proposal would not provide overriding planning benefits sufficient to outweigh the significant harms identified above.

Arlington payphone removal.

Red telephone box

Ashford Borough Council have received notice that the payphone at No. 58 Arlington is one of five that BT intend to remove in addition to those publicised in June last year.

Ashford Borough Council will not adopt the payphone but there is an opportunity for a local community group to do so. BT would like to hear the view of the community on the proposal.

Please comment on this post – we will feed your comments back to ABC.

BT’s letter to ABC says:

We’re continually reviewing the demand for our payphones. Further to our letter of 28 June 2019 we’ve now identified an additional 5 public payphones that we’re proposing for removal under the 90 day consultation process and details of these payphones are attached. We’d welcome your feedback on whether the payphones in question are still needed. We greatly appreciate your help with this.

To ensure that the local community are fully informed, we have placed consultation notices on the relevant payphones, and a sample notice is enclosed. We have also included the date we posted these notices on
the payphones. The consultation period will close on 14 May 2020.

This consultation process gives your local communities the opportunity to adopt a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box and make it an asset that local people can enjoy. It’s really simple to do and it costs just £1.00
http://bt.com/adopt

Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time, with at least 98 per cent of the UK
having either 3G or 4G coverage. This is important because as long as there is network coverage, it’s now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.

You may also want to consider Ofcom’s affordability report which found that most people do not view payphones as essential for most consumers in most circumstances http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/affordability/affordability_report.pdf

On the 14 March 2006 Ofcom published a statement following their 2005 review of universal service in the telecommunications market, which includes a requirement for payphone provision to meet reasonable
needs. Part of that statement amended our obligations with regard to the removal of payphone service:
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf file/0021/34266/statement.pdf

As stated in Ofcom’ review,it is the responsibility of the local authority to initiate its own consultation process to canvas the views of the local community. They would normally expect these consultations to involve other public organisations such parish or community councils work within the terms of the Communications Act . This means that you must able to objectively justify your decisions guidance on the removal process can be viewed at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removals.pdf
and a summary is available at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removing_callboxes.pdf

The guidance also details the appeals process we must follow in case of unreasonable objections.
If you wish to’object’, you will need to give your reasons, having reviewed all of the factors set out in Annex 1 of Ofcom’s guidance (see link above), and the information sent to you in our previous letter.

East Stour Park refused.

Riverside view of proposed development

Members of Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee, yesterday evening voted to Refuse the Planning Application for the East Stour Park Development.

After a local resident had spoken in objection to the development and the developer’s architect Guy Holloway had spoken in support, Chair of South Ashford Community Forum, Bob Shrubb, objected to the Development. He raised issues relating to:

  • The Sequential and Exception Test required to ensure that development is carried out in areas of lower flood risk and that the wider sustainability benefits to the community outweigh flood risk and that the proposed development would be safe,
  • The impact on the movement of wildlife through Ashford’s Green Corridor and
  • The site not being allocated for development in Ashford’s Local Plan although it had assessed through the land availability assessment process through which sites are allocated.

South Ashford Community Forum are pleased that a large majority of Members (15:1) chose to Refuse the application, but are aware that the option to appeal the decision is open to the developer.

The Community Forum believe that the reason for refusal (Green Corridor Policy ENV2) is sound and trust, if an appeal is submitted, that the Council are able to evidence the case to the inspector. We also believe that the validity of the developer’s Sequential and Exception Test should be independently reviewed.

Domestic and General Warranty Scam

The hand holds telephone receiver above the phone

KCC Public Protection have had a report of a Kent resident being called by a company claiming to be a domestic appliance warranty provider ‘Domestic and General’

What happens

  • You are cold-called by telephone
  • The criminal knows your name, address and information on the items covered by the warranty
  • If you say that they are not your warranty provider they then attempt to unnerve you by saying they will cancel your policy

What to do

  • Hang up
  • Call your warranty provider, if you have one, on the number on your paperwork to check if you have concerns

Find out more on the Domestic and General scam

More advice and to report to Action Fraud

Please warn vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.

DOORSTEP CRIME IS FINANCIAL ABUSE

Help us prevent vulnerable people from becoming victims of doorstep crime and financial abuse. Watch the video and learn to spot the signs of doorstep crime and financial abuse. Please help to protect your family members, neighbours and friends.

We know doorstep criminals tell us our roof tiles are loose, our chimney stacks are dangerous, our trees are diseased and our driveways need jet washing.

Help keep your community safe. Report doorstep criminals as soon as you see them or tell your local Community Warden or Police Officer.

Even if you’re not sure if they are a criminal tell us anyway, we want to know.

Report it

For advice and to report issues to KCC Trading Standards contact
Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133
Consumer Advice scams action line on 0808 250 5050
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Kent County Council Public Protection
https://mailchi.mp/kent.gov.uk/alert-domestic-and-general-warranty-scam?e=5d620a3416

Bike Security Marking

Wednesday 19th February 2020
10:00 – 11:00 Halfords
11:30 – 12:30 Victoria Park (Playground)
also:
13:00 – 14:00 Sk8side
14:30 – 15:30 Stanhope (Ball Court)
16:00 – 17:00 Bockhanger (next to old library)

Security marking your pushbike could help to deter thieves as well
asmaking it easier for Kent Police to reunite you with your bike should
it be lost or stolen.

Simply bring along your bike and Kent Police will mark it for FREE.

This ls done by placing a unique code onto the frame and use of a tamper proof sticker. The bike wll also he registered onto a national database allowlng it to be identified even if it gets recovered in a different County.

For further details please follow Kent Police social media feeds on Twitter or Facebook or visit www.kent.police.uk

Warning about Brexit scams

Stop the Scammers

With today being the United Kingdom’s final day as a member of the EC, Get Safe Online is warning about a number of scams which will undoubtedly be perpetrated in order take advantage of changes in the law and processes. In fact, some scams have already been reported, prior to Brexit taking place.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said “Whether you agree or disagree with Brexit, it’s finally here. We know from bitter experience that fraudsters will seize every opportunity to exploit major changes like this, taking advantage of people’s uncertainty and even confusion about what it means to them.

“Our experts have put together some expert tips around some of the scams we anticipate taking place in the days and months to come, some of which are already happening. I urge you to read them and, above all, always think twice about whether approaches you receive are genuine. Checking and double-checking can save untold losses, upset and inconvenience.”

EHIC scams

An EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) gives you access to state-provided healthcare if you are visiting the EEA or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. It is provided free of charge on application via an official UK government website. For more information on the status of EHIC eligibility.

It is currently not clear whether the EHIC will apply to UK travellers, a fact which will undoubtedly cause uncertainty.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020 (gov.uk)

If you consider that there are already a number of copycat websites charging for EHICs, there will certainly be an increase in illegal activity enticing consumers to pay for EHICs, or alternatively offering an ‘alternative’.

To apply for an EHIC – visit the official government or NHS website.

Passport scams

With Brexit, we expect fraudsters to take advantage of passport changes. Typically, these will involve requests or demands from scammers claiming to be from either government websites in the UK or EU – or travel companies, checking the validity of your passport. As passports are one of the main ways with which you can prove your identity, giving these details to an unauthorised party will almost certainly involve identity theft or financial fraud, or both.

HMRC scams

emails, texts, social media messages and phone calls claiming to be from HMRC have been some of the most commonplace online scams for years. They take the form of notifications that the recipient is either owed a tax refund, faces some kind of penalty for unpaid tax or failure to submit a return, or that regulations or thresholds have changed. The emails, texts and posts include links, but clicking on them can result in being taken to a convincing but fake website which requests your confidential details, or your device being infected with malware. Clicking on email attachments can have the same consequences. We expect a large crop of new fake messages fitting this description, but modified to include changes brought about by Brexit.

Businesses are also being targeted with fake HMRC communications, particularly those who trade with the EU who have been falsely told that they need to register for a UK trader number, or similar warnings.

HMRC will never ask you for your payment or personal details by email, text or over the phone, so you should treat these approaches with extreme caution. If in doubt, call HMRC on a number you know to be correct, to check if the approaches are genuine or fake.

Bogus investments

Investment scams are as old as money itself, but they have been aided by technology and fraudsters are constantly finding new, more convincing ways to perpetrate them. Brexit provides the ideal opportunity.

For example, scammers are emailing, messaging or calling unsuspecting victims to convince them that making a new investment or modifying an existing one will help to either take advantage of new, post-Brexit laws, or reduce damage resulting from the changes.

A variant of this scam arises from the fact that much UK financial services regulation is drawn from EU directives, with the result that UK banks access to the European payments infrastructure may change, causing lengthier money transfers, payments or receipts in Euros.

Never provide confidential details such as logins or the name of your bank, pension scheme provider, to people or organisations who have contacted you at random. If in doubt, contact your genuine financial services providers or IFA on the number you know to be correct.

Business scams

In the workplace, fraud is often committed through impersonation scams, where businesses typically receive an email, phone call or letter claiming to be from a supplier or subscription service, notifying of a new payment details which are actually into a fraudster’s bank account. It is possible that some will now feature Brexit as an excuse, claiming that payment details have changed because of changed banking arrangements in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Get Safe Online 31st January 2020
https://getsafeonline.org/news/get-safe-online-warns-about-brexit-related-scams/

Get Safe Online is a public / private sector partnership supported by HM Government and leading organisations in banking, retail, internet security and other sectors.

Save by getting extra support

  • Do a home energy check to find out about savings of up to £130 a year on household energy bills. Visit the Simple Energy Advice website and get personalised energy savings advice.
  • Visit your local Citizens Advice office to get advice in person about how to reduce your energy bills.
  • If anyone in your household is receiving benefits, contact your energy supplier and see what support they can provide. They should be able to tell you what help is available through the Energy Company Obligation.
  • If you need a little extra help from your energy company – including large print bills or more support during a power cut – you can apply to be added to your electricity network priority services register.
  • Check if you are eligible for the Warm Home Discount. Energy suppliers can provide rebates to households on certain benefits. The rebate is £140 for 2019/20 and you should contact your electricity supplier directly to see if you qualify

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf