Consumer

Avoid Holiday Fraud

Each year, fraudsters target unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers conning them out of millions of pounds. Not only are people losing substantial sums of money but many holidays are being ruined, with people unable to afford a replacement. Over the past four years, we’ve joined forces with the City of London Police, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online to raise awareness of different types of holiday booking fraud and how you can avoid becoming a victim.

What is holiday booking fraud and how to avoid the common types?

Holiday booking fraud is when people hand over money only to discover the holiday, accommodation or flight they paid for doesn’t exist.

Fraudsters are conning unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers out of millions of pounds each year or leaving them stranded with nowhere to stay.

The most common types of booking fraud are: 

  • Holiday Accommodation: Fraudsters are making full use of the internet to con holidaymakers by setting up fake websites, hacking into legitimate accounts and posting fake adverts on websites and social media. 
  • Airline tickets: Where a customer believes they are booking a flight and receives a fake ticket or pays for a ticket that never turns up.
  • Sports and religious trips: A popular target for fraud due to limited availability of tickets and consequently higher prices. 
  • Timeshares and holiday clubs: The sums involved with this form of fraud are particularly high with victims losing typically thousands of pounds. 

Top tips to help avoid holiday booking fraud

  • Don’t reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious websites or download viruses.
  • Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org.
  • Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If they’re suspect, other people may well have posted their experiences warning people off.
  • Look for the logo: Check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company’s website and if you have any doubts, verify membership by visiting our ABTA Member search. If you’re booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, then please visit the CAA website.
  • Pay safe: Never pay directly into an private individuals bank account. 
  • Check the paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up. 
  • Use your instincts: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.

How to report it

Report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040. If they’re a member of the Association of British Travel Agents, report to them too.

ABTA
https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud

Action Fraud
https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/holiday-fraud

#scamaware

Don’t let a scammer enjoy your retirement

Find out how pension scams work, how to avoid them and what to do if you suspect a scam.

Scammers can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. Scammers design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them or to release funds from it. It is then invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units, or simply stolen outright.

Scam tactics include:

  • contact out of the blue
  • promises of high / guaranteed returns
  • free pension reviews • access to your pension before age 55
  • pressure to act quickly

Four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams

  1. Reject unexpected offers
    If you’re contacted out of the blue about your pension, chances are it’s high risk or a scam. Be wary of free pension review offers. A free offer out of the blue from a company you have not dealt with before is probably a scam. Fortunately, research shows that 95% of unexpected pension offers are rejected.*
  2. Check who you’re dealing with
    Check the Financial Services Register (www.register.fca.org.uk) to make sure that anyone offering you advice or other financial services is FCA-authorised.
    If you don’t use an FCA-authorised firm, you also won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So you’re unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong. If the firm is on the FCA Register, you should call the Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 to check the firm is permitted to give pension advice.
    Beware of fraudsters pretending to be from a firm authorised by the FCA, as it could be what we call a ‘clone firm’. Use the contact details provided on the FCA Register, not the details they give you.
  3. Don’t be rushed or pressured
    Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’.
    Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true and don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.
  4. Get impartial information and advice
    The Pensions Advisory Service (www.thepensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk) – Provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.
    Pension Wise (www.pensionwise.gov.uk) – If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution (DC) pension, Pension Wise offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options.
    Financial advisers – It’s important you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances, so you should seriously consider using the services of a financial adviser. If you do opt for an adviser, be sure to use one that is regulated by the FCA and never take investment advice from the company that contacted you or an adviser they suggest, as this may be part of the scam.

Financial Conduct Authority
The Pensions Regulator

#scamaware

Report

Scam Awareness Campaign

You might be able to stop others from being scammed if you report a scam.

You should report the scam to more than one organisation – report it to:

  1. the Citizens Advice Consumer Service first
  2. Action Fraud – or Royal Mail if you’ve been scammed by post

Give as much information as you can – for example, dates, names and email addresses.

Get help if you’ve shared your bank details. Your bank might be able to refund some of the money or block your cards.

If you’ve been threatened with violence, report it to the police on 101.

Report a scam to Consumer Service

Report the scammer to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service online or by phone.

They will:

  • give you advice on what to do next
  • report the scam to Trading Standards – they might investigate to see if the business has acted illegally or unfairly

Report a scam to Action Fraud

You should report the scam to Action Fraud – the national fraud reporting centre.

They might get the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to investigate the scam further. You’ll usually get a police crime reference number. 

It’s easiest to report scams online – either:

It’s best to fill in the form on a computer, not a mobile or tablet. It takes about 20 minutes to fill in.

You can also report the scam by phone.

Action Fraud
Telephone: 0300 123 2040
Textphone: 0300 123 2050
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

Website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Calls usually cost up to 40p a minute from mobiles and up to 10p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you have a contract that includes calls to landlines – check with your supplier if you’re not sure.

Reporting a postal scam

You can report postal scams to Royal Mail – they investigate scams and work to stop them.

Post the scam mail to FREEPOST SCAM MAIL – include the envelope it came in and a completed ‘scam mail report’. You can download the scam mail report from Royal Mail’s website – or you can ask Royal Mail to send you a scam mail report and a pre-paid envelope to send it in.

Royal Mail

Telephone: 0800 011 3466 – leave a message with your name, address and phone number.

Email: scam.mail@royalmail.com

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

#scamaware

Stop

Scams Awareness Campaign

Check if something might be a scam

A scam is a type of fraud in which someone steals your money or information. 
You can be scammed online, in person, over the phone, or through the post. 
Scams can be difficult to recognise, but there are things you can look out for.

Recognising a scam

It might be a scam if:

  • it seems too good to be true – for example, a holiday that’s significantly cheaper than you’d expect it to be
  • someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
  • you suspect you’re not dealing with a real company – for example, if there’s no postal address
  • you’ve been asked to transfer money quickly
  • you’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way – for example, by vouchers or wire transfer
  • you’ve been asked to give away personal information like passwords or PINs

If you think you’ve paid too much for something

Paying more for something than you think it’s worth isn’t the same as being scammed. Usually, a scam will involve theft or fraud.

You have other rights if you think you’ve overpaid.

If you think you’ve spotted a scam

If you’ve given away money or information because of a scam, there are things you should do. Check what to do if you’ve been scammed.

If you haven’t been scammed but you’ve seen something you think is a scam, you should report it. Find out how to report a scam.

If you’re not sure if something is a scam, contact Citizens Advice consumer service. They’ll give you advice about what might be a scam and the steps you should take if you’ve been scammed.

#scamaware

Mattress scam alert

A Kent resident was recently scammed by a criminal selling mattresses from a van in Edenbridge (South Ashford has seen reports of mattresses being sold from a van in Ashford)

At best these mattresses will contain a very basic spring unit with a polyester fibre pad or a layer of cheap foam over it, all covered in a cheap outer covering material. They almost certainly haven’t undergone testing though they may display the small blue, white and black label with an image of a cigarette and match flame.

At worst, the mattress may contain an old, used spring unit along with dirty fillings. Some of the worst cases are where the rogue trader has simply placed an old mattress inside a brand-new cover! 

Kent County Council Public Protection

Police warning following theft of unsafe toys

A trailer containing an unsafe batch of Little Tikes Squeezoo Bubble Bus and Elephant toys was stolen from Wellesbourne Distribution Park. This batch of toys was on its way to be destroyed due to quality control issues and potential safety risks associated with them.

While the brand is still stocked by reputable retailers, Detective Constable Daniel Griffiths of Warwickshire Polce said: “We’re urging people to show caution when buying these toys them from a market, car boot sale, online auction site or social media.

“This particular batch of toys were on their way to be destroyed due to quality control issues and there are potential safety risks associated with them.

“We have launched an investigation to identify the offenders and retrieve the stolen toys. I’d appeal for anyone with information that could help with our investigation to contact us.”

The stolen trailer is blue curtain sided with a red chassis with the identification number C451753. The number plate may have the partial registration WT67.

Anyone with information about the theft or who thinks they have seen the stolen toys for sale should call police on 101 quoting incident 50 of 22 November 2018.

CALL 101 – INCIDENT 50 of 22 NOVEMBER 2018.

Alternatively, information be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

For advice and to report issues to KCC Trading Standards contact
Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Kent County Council Public Protection
Warwickshire Police

Buying something online?

Your rights can be different when buying from an online marketplace – websites where traders and private individuals list and sell products.

What are my rights?

If you’re buying from an online trader your rights are the same as if you were buying from any other online store.

  • You normally have up to 14 days after receiving your goods to change your mind and get a full refund.
  • If there is a problem with your item within the first 30 days from when you’ve bought it, you could get a refund, replacement or repair.
  • If it can’t be repaired or replaced, then during the first 6 months in most cases you’re entitled to a full refund.
  • If you’re buying online from an individual seller, the principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies.
  • Goods have to be how they were described to you by the seller, but the seller doesn’t have to disclose any faults.
  • The seller can’t misrepresent goods though – for example claiming something used is brand new.

What can I do if I have a problem?

  • Contact the seller to try to resolve the issue.
  • Check the online marketplaces’ terms and conditions. These will sometimes offer you more protections.
  • If the seller arranged delivery, and the item hasn’t turned up or was delivered to the wrong location, it’s the seller’s legal responsibility to sort out the issue.
  • Some traders belong to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, which means they offer a way to solve your problem without going to court.

What if I have a problem with a private seller?

  • Try to resolve the issue by contacting the seller directly first, but if you can’t:
  • Check whether the online marketplace has their own protection and dispute resolution systems.
  • Consider making a claim to the court – this is sometimes called a ‘small claim’.

Find out more about your rights and National Consumer Week at
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/NCW18

#NCW

Consultation on TV Licence for over 75s

TelevisionAge-related TV licence policy consultation

BBC

Today people over 75 are entitled to receive a free TV licence, but UK Government funding for this concession is coming to an end in 2020. The BBC want to know your views about what they should do in the future.Please read the consultation document before responding. This sets out possible options for the future along with some specific questions to help you respond. You may also want to read the accompanying equality impact assessment.You may also find it useful to read the report prepared by an external economics consultancy, Frontier Economics. This provides some detailed analysis on possible ways to approach the new decision the BBC has to make. In addition, Frontier Economics published a related discussion paper which discusses the changing landscape since 2000, intergenerational fairness and the changing financial context.When you’re ready to take part, click the link below and you’ll be taken to the online consultation questionnaire.

Key Document

Have Your Say

Respond to this consultation
https://bbcconsultation.traverse.org.uk/

Related Documents

BBC
www.bbc.com/yoursay

Image: Creaticca Ltd
License:  Creative Commons (Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Brookfield Post Office Temporary Closure

The Post Office has announced that, regrettably, following the resignation of the postmaster and the withdrawal of the premises for Post Office use the Brookfield Post Office will be closing temporarily on Wednesday 24 October 2018.

Adam Williams of Post Office wrote: “Looking after a nationwide network of Post Office services, we have a responsibility to make sure every service makes the best possible use of resources, while ensuring that customers can still access our products and services. I can assure you that we will continue to work to find a solution that will provide a Post Office service to the local community.

“If you have any questions you would like to raise about this matter, please write to me via the National Consultation Team at the address shown at the end of the letter. Please note that your comments will not be kept confidential unless you expressly ask us do so by clearly marking them “In Confidence”.

“Any future changes to service provision would be handled in line with our Principles of Community Engagement. A copy is available at the end of this letter.

“We would like to apologise for the inconvenience the temporary closure may cause. We hope that our customers will continue to use the Post Office and full details of alternative Post Office services in the area are shown at the end of this letter.

“We will write to you again once I have any news about our plans for future service provision.”

Contact Post Office:

email: comments@postoffice.co.uk

online: www.postofficeviews.co.uk/

FREEPOST Your Comments

Alternative branches:

Kingsnorth Road Post Office

Kingsnorth Road
Ashford
TN23 6HZ

Services

The same range of services will continue to be available with the addition of dollar Travel Money and On Demand Travel Insurance.

Access and facilities

This branch has automatic wide door and level access at the entrance.

Transport/parking

Forecourt parking is available outside. There are local buses serving the surrounding area.

Distance

This Post Office service is located approximately 0.8 miles away from Brookfield branch, along varied terrain.

Opening times

Monday 07:00 – 21:00
Tuesday 07:00 – 21:00
Wednesday 07:00 – 21:00
Thursday 07:00 – 21:00
Friday 07:00 – 21:00
Saturday 07:00 – 21:00
Sunday 07:00 – 21:00

Singleton Post Office

Singleton Centre
Singleton
Ashford
TN23 5GR

Services

The same range of services will continue to be available with the addition of Car tax, comprehensive range of Travel Money
and On Demand Travel Insurance.

Access and facilities

This branch has automatic wide door and level access at the entrance.

Transport/parking

Off road parking is available nearby. There are local buses serving the surrounding area.

Distance

This Post Office service is located approximately 1.1 miles away from Brookfield branch, along varied terrain.

Opening times

Monday 06:00 – 22:00
Tuesday 06:00 – 22:00
Wednesday 06:00 – 22:00
Thursday 06:00 – 22:00
Friday 06:00 – 22:00
Saturday 06:00 – 22:00
Sunday 07:00 – 22:00

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