Finance

Council Tax refund scam

Ashford borough Council have notified us of a phone scam around council tax which is currently in circulation.

This particular scam involves calls from a company called Greystone Recovery. The caller claims to have information relating to incorrect council tax banding and saying that the recipient is entitled to refunds.

These calls are not coming from the council, and are unrelated to genuine text messages that get sent out from the council about council tax arrears.

If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of a call, whether they claim to be calling from the council, or another organisation, it is important to hang up and not give any information to the caller.

If you have a query about your council tax band you can visit the Ashford Borough Council website at www.ashford.gov.uk/council-tax/valuation-and-band-charges/ to find out more.

You can find out how to identify and avoid this kind of scam at
www.gov.uk/guidance/council-tax-and-business-rates-scams.

If you think your house may be in the wrong Council Tax Band read Martin Lewis’s advice on Money Saving Expert on how to check and and request re-assessment. Do read the whole of the article as, although there is no charge for re-assessment, it includes warnings about what could happen if the current banding is correct or too low.

There are a number of legitimate companies named Greystone or Grey Stone. We are not aware of any which provide Council Tax recovery services.

Covid vaccine scam

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has received a number of reports in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:
“The vaccine is a crucial tool in fighting the coronavirus and keeping people safe. Thankfully, the number of reports into Action Fraud are relatively low but we have seen an increase in the last two months, particularly around scam text messages. 

If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam.”

Action Fraud has received reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for the vaccine. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

How to protect yourself:

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.  

Booking a Coronavirus vaccination

If you have received a letter inviting you to book a coronavirus vaccination, book it directly from the NHS website:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/

Do not use links in emails or texts.

Do not try to book a vaccination if you have not received a letter.

Covid-19 scams

Watch out for other Covid-19 related scams. Visit our Covid-19 scam post

Report Fraud

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Clairvoyant and Psychic Scams

Stop the Scammers

Our second post for Friends Against Scams’ Scamnesty Month, raising awareness of scams, focusses on Clairvoyant/Psychic scams.

Have you received post out of the blue telling you that you need to purchase a ‘lucky’ charm for protection?

Have you received post saying wonderful things have been seen in your future – all you need to make it come true is to send money or purchase an item?

If you or loved ones receive letters, emails, phone calls like this or are told this face to face, be warned it is a scam.

Find out more about Scams

ARE YOU or someone you know, inundated with scam mail? Tempted to respond to it? Keen to help track down the criminals behind scams and help put a stop to their activities?

IF YES to any of the above then why not become a Scam Marshal for National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team.

To get advice or report a scam contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline or telephone 0808 223 1133
Report a Scam

Kent County Council Public Protection

Lottery/prize draw scams

Friends Against Scams are running a Scamnesty Month to raise awareness of scams. This week they are focussing on Lotteries and prize Draws.

Lottery/prize draw scams say you’ve won a large amount of money. They may tell you to keep it a secret & pressure you to respond quickly.

If you or loved ones receive letters like this, be warned it is a scam.

Read how to protect yourself from Lottery/prize draw scams

Find out more about Scams

ARE YOU or someone you know, inundated with scam mail? Tempted to respond to it? Keen to help track down the criminals behind scams and help put a stop to their activities?

IF YES to any of the above then why not become a Scam Marshal for National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team.

To get advice or report a scam contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline or telephone 0808 223 1133
Report a Scam

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