Crime

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

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.

Doorstep Crime – Loft insulation

'Surveyor in hi-vis jacket

Kent County Council Public Protection have had reports of doorstep criminals targeting residents in the Ashford area for loft insulation work.

What happens

  • Residents are cold-called
  • The doorstep criminal claims to be from the Council
  • The resident is offered a ‘free’ survey for loft insulation
  • Once a price is mentioned by the criminal they then use pressure tactics including telling the resident their property value will decrease if they do not have the work done

What to do

  • NEVER agree to work from someone who knocks on your door uninvited
  • Don’t allow anyone to pressure you into having work done
  • If you ask them to leave and they don’t, contact the police on 999
  • Use reputable traders who are members of the KCC Trading Standards approved trader scheme, run in partnership with Checkatrade
  • Get a minimum of 3 quotes in writing

Please warn vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.

If you loft needs insulation you may be eligible for funding check the Warm Homes scheme

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Amazon Scam Alert

KCC Public Protection have received reports from Kent residents relating to the following Amazon scams:

Amazon Prime subscription scam

“An automated phone call to her landline advised Mrs Wallace that her Amazon Prime subscription was going to be renewed and if she did not want to renew, she should press one.” Read this BBC article on how a resident in Northern Ireland lost her savings to this scam
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49733823

Amazon ‘brushing’ scam

“At first glance, receiving packages you haven’t paid for might seem like a great problem to have. But it’s likely to be a new scam known as ‘brushing’.”
Read this article on Which? website explaining how this scam works
https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/amazon-prime-brushing-scam-explained/

PROTECT YOURSELF

Check the Amazon website to find out more and information on how to protect yourself from Amazon scams
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_492866_to_201489210?nodeId=201489210

Please warn family members, friends and neighbours.

Report it

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/

Contact details

For advice and to report issues to KCC Trading Standards contact
Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
or https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/if-you-need-more-help-about-a-consumer-issue/

KCC Public Protection 07 October 2019 https://mailchi.mp/kent.gov.uk/amazon-scam-alert

Public Spaces Protection Orders

ABC Crest

Ashford Borough Council

Opens: 24 September 2019
Closes: 15th November 2019

Introduction

Ashford Borough Council is consulting on the renewal of its Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) in four areas of Ashford. This will allow the Council to continue to maintain a range of measures to address anti-social behaviour and help to improve community safety and the local environment in these areas.

The four areas have been in operation for the last three years having been identified as necessary by the council and police following reports and complaints received from local residents. Since their introduction the number of anti-social behaviour complaints has reduced. 

The areas covered are Ashford Churchyard Passage, the Coney Bear site (near Torrington Road, South Ashford), the Town Centre itself and Singleton Lake

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Beware the BBQ-bandits

Tips to keep your garden safe:

  • Lock valuables away: in the event of a theft claim your insurer will want to know if the item was locked in an outbuilding and will usually ask for proof of forced entry.
  • Defend your property: make sure gates have locks fitted and use security lights to deter thieves. Shrubs and plants along borders may put intruders off scaling walls.
  • Secure your bike: always keep bikes locked in an outbuilding. Some policies may even stipulate that bikes themselves should be locked to an unmoveable object within.
  • Know your policy: check what your policy covers. Insurers often limit claims for garden items.

Homeowners planning barbecues and garden parties this weekend are being urged to keep their properties secure, as the number of garden thefts soar.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales the number of garden thefts rose by 23% to 595,000 in 2018, up from 483,000 the previous year.

Amongst the most frequently stolen items were barbecues, lawnmowers, play equipment, garden furniture, plants and strangely even garden gnomes.

During the same period thefts from inside properties fell by 2% to 669,000.

Commenting on the figures, Steve Gibbon, a former police detective who now runs his own security consultancy says: “Garden gadgets are an increasingly attractive prospect for thieves. A high-end barbecue or a robotic lawnmower can cost a lot of money these days – but we do not treat them with the same care as other valuables.

“We leave them outside and unlocked in a way we would never do with a laptop or a mobile phone worth the same value.

“We feel garden equipment is safe within the grounds of our house, but it is not hard to move a lawnmower or even a barbecue on wheels.

“It might be an inconvenience, but people should keep their garden equipment under lock and key when they are out – in a garden shed or fixed to something with a decent padlock to reduce the risk.”

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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

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