Finance

Green Homes Grant

If you’re a homeowner or residential landlord you can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to your home.

Improvements could include insulating your home to reduce your energy use or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide your home produces.

You must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2021.

How much you can get

Vouchers will cover two-thirds of the cost of eligible improvements, up to a maximum government contribution of £5,000.

If you, or someone in your household, receive certain benefits you may be eligible for a voucher covering 100% of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of the voucher is £10,000. Check if you’re eligible for the low income support scheme.

Landlords are not eligible for low income support.

Read more about the scheme on the Simple Energy Advice website

Check if you are eligible for a voucher and find home improvements that you can carry out on the Simple Energy Advice website

Then apply for a voucher via gov.uk

Find an Installer

The voucher can only be used for work carried out by an installer registered under the scheme, for the work that is being undertaken.

Find an installer on the Simple Energy Advice website

We recommend that you do not take advice from cold callers, whether by phone or door to door salesmen nor respond to social media adverts or emails. we have learnt of examples of potential scammers and rogue traders taking advantage of the announcement of this scheme.

#ScamAware

Amazon Grant Scam

Kent Police Cybercrime unit have received reports of a new phishing attempt purporting to be from Amazon, asking customers whether they would like to apply to the Amazon Grant relief fund, to receive a grant of up to £1,000. The recipient is asked to click on a link if they wish to be enlisted.

We have received reports of the same scam being attempted by telephone.

Don’t click on links in emails and messages

https://twitter.com/kentpolicecy…/status/1260143824585863169

Other Covid-19 scams

See our list of Covid-19 related scams

#TakeFive 

Stop – Challenge – Protect 

#scamaware #cyberprotect

Report Fraud

Don’t use Paypal ‘friends and family’

PayPal customers encouraged by sellers to make payments via its ‘friends and family’ option instead of ‘goods and services’ are unnecessarily leaving themselves without payment protection – and some are even losing cash.

PayPal’s system allows users to select between making a payment for ‘goods or services’ – which comes with Buyer Protection should something go wrong – or ‘family and friends’ which is essentially a money transfer and does not offer protection.

In the last two weeks alone, we’ve spoken to several MoneySavers who have been encouraged by sellers to make payments using the ‘friends and family’ option – in some cases by online scammers.

We don’t know for certain why scammers do this, but we believe it’s because it’s harder for shoppers who’ve paid via ‘friends and family’ to get their money back. Legitimate traders can also benefit from being paid via ‘friends and family’ because those who are paid via it aren’t charged a fee, unlike with the ‘goods and services’ option.

However, the message on this is clear and simple: if someone selling you goods or a service asks you to send a friends and family payment, you should refuse. Otherwise you won’t be reimbursed if something goes wrong.

Callum Mason
MoneySavingExpert.com 10 March 2020
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/paypal-scam-victims-warn-against-fraudsters-who-ask-for–family-/

The Wangiri fraud

Wangiri is a Japanese word meaning ‘one (ring) and cut’.

It’s a telephone scam where criminals trick you into calling premium rate numbers.

A fraudster will set up a system to dial a large number of random phone numbers. Each calls rings just once, then hangs up, leaving a missed call on the recipients’ phone.

How does it work?

A person finds a missed call on their phone. If the person calls the number back they will be re-routed to a premium rate number overseas and will be subsequentlycharged for the expensive call.

What are the signs?

The call…

  • takes place at night or during working hours (reducing the chances for the recipient to answer the call);
  • displays an unusual international country code.
  • rings only once;

What can you do?

  • If you have a missed call from an unknown number, don’t call back.
    A legitimate caller will either leave a message or call back.
  • If you receive several such calls, let your phone operator know.

Europol
https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/public-awareness-and-prevention-guides/telecommunications-fraud

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:

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.

Save by switching

Use the Citizens Advice energy price comparison tool to see if you can save money by switching energy tariff or supplier.

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