Phantom Debt Fraud Alert

Action Fraud has recently experienced an increase in the number of calls to members of the public by fraudsters requesting payments for a “phantom” debt. The fraud involves being cold-called by someone purporting to be a debt collector, bailiff or other type of enforcement agent. The fraudster may claim to be working under instruction of a court, business or other body and suggest they are recovering funds for a non-existent debt.

The fraudsters are requesting payment, sometimes by bank transfer and if refused, they threaten to visit homes or workplaces in order to recover the supposed debt that is owed. In some cases, the victim is also threatened with arrest. From the reports Action Fraud has received, this type of fraud is presently occurring throughout the UK.

It is important to recognise that there are key differences between the various entities who seek to settle debts or outstanding fees in England and Wales. These differences range from the type of debt they will enforce to the legal powers they possess. To learn more, please take a look at some of the helpful information and links on the Step Change Debt Charity website;

Protect Yourself

  • Make vigorous checks if you ever get a cold call. Bailiffs for example, should always be able to provide you with a case number and warrant number, along with their name and the court they are calling from; make a note of all details provided to you.
  • If you receive a visit from a bailiff, they must always identify themselves as a Court Bailiff at the earliest possible opportunity. Ask to see their identity card which they must carry to prove who they are, this card shows their photograph and identity number. They will also carry the physical warrant showing the debt and endorsed with a court seal.
  • If you work for a business and receive a call or visit, be sure to speak with your manager or business owner first. Never pay the debts yourself on behalf of the business you work for; some fraudsters have suggested employees make payment suggesting they can then be reimbursed by their employer when in reality the debt is non-existent.
  • Exercise caution believing someone is genuine because you’ve found something on the internet; fraudsters could easily create fake online profiles to make you believe them.
  • Double check with the court, company or public body they claim to work for to confirm whether the call is legitimate; if you use a landline make sure you hear the dialling tone prior to dialling as the caller could still be on the line and you could potentially speak to the fraudster(s) to confirm the non-existent debt. Also be sure to independently search for a telephone number to call; never use a number provided by the caller without carrying out your own research.
  • Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call. Take five and listen to your instincts.
  • If you know you have a debt, keep in regular contact with your creditor and be sure to establish the debt type at the earliest opportunity if you are not aware. This will help you to understand who might be in contact with you regarding any repayments or arrears.

You can report suspicious calls like these to Action Fraud by visiting or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Action Fraud 31 January 2018

ABC: Report it

Let's work together to make the borough a better placeAshford Borough Council has improved its online reporting system, making it easier for residents to report issues such as:

  • Flytipping
  • Littering
  • Dog fouling
  • Vandalism
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Planning enforcement

The new system replaces some online forms and allows residents to report incidents and then track their progress via a unique reference number.

Stop and think

  1. Take Five to stop fraudRequests to move money: A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
  2. Clicking on links/files: Don’t be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
  3. Personal information: Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.


Council Tax 2018/19

The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner is the last of the precepting authorities in Kent to announce their budget proposals for 2018/19.

We show the combined impact of proposed rises from Kent County Council, Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, Ashford Borough Council and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Kent County Council and Kent and Medway Fire Authority budgets were announced before the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government raised the referendum threshold for Council Tax rises to 3% and may be reviewed.

The table shows the annual Council Tax for a Band D property

Council Tax 17/18 % Rise £ Rise  18/19
KCC 1,178.82 4% 47.16 1225.97
ABC 154.00 2.28% 3.50 157.50
FRA 73.35 2% 1.46 74.81
PCC 157.15 7.64% 12.00 169.15
Total 1563.32  4.10% 64.12 1627.43

We will update this post as more information becomes available

Posts relating to budget consultations:

KCC Budget Strategy 2018/19

KMFRA Safety and Wellbeing Plan and Budget Consultation

ABC Budget Consultation

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Consultation

PCC proposes £12 rise to boost police frontline

Boosting Kent’s frontline – up to 200 more Police Officers and 80 more staff

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

Opens: 10 January 2018
Closes: 27 January 2018

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has today proposed a £12 rise in his precept to fund extra resources for Kent Police.

Matthew Scott writes:

“Over the past year, I have continued touring the county and speaking with local residents, community groups, businesses and charities to seek their views on Policing in Kent and Medway. I have spent time with the Police Officers, staff and volunteers serving on the frontline to hear their experiences too.

“There is no doubt that Policing remains under pressure. There are ever-increasing numbers of calls to respond to, many of which are more complex and a growing number of which are not criminal in nature – such as support for vulnerable people in mental health crisis. All of this comes whilst Britain’s threat level for international terrorism is severe.

“Despite all of this, Kent Police has been among the top-rated Forces in the country in independent inspections for efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy in 2016 and 2017. They have been deemed “Good” or “Outstanding” in every assessment, bar one. Police Officer numbers have risen since I was elected and PCSO numbers have also been protected. Antisocial behaviour is down 11%. There is a new cyber-crime team and the Volunteer Police Cadets programme is back. I’m investing more in services for victims of crime and together we have fixed the firearms licensing backlog.

“The Government has listened to the views of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and increased funding for counter terrorism by £50m and will be investing a further £130m in other national Policing schemes. In order to support local Policing, the Home Office has allowed PCCs to increase the council tax precept by £1 a month for an average household, which could raise up to £270m nationally. Together, this represents slightly more than the amount PCCs said we needed next year.

“Taking into consideration the views of residents, community groups, businesses, and the operational needs of Policing in Kent, I am pleased to be proposing the biggest recruitment drive for Kent Police for a considerable time.

“In laying out my proposal I am empowering the Chief Constable to recruit up to 200 additional Police Officers in the next year. These will go into boosting a number of areas, including rural and roads policing, local communities, fighting cyber-crime and providing greater public protection, and will take the total number of Police Officers in Kent to its highest level since 2012.

“In addition to this, I have listened to residents’ views about crime reporting, and so there will be a boost in the number of call handlers answering 999 and 101 calls, so that people can get help quicker and more information can be provided to the Police. This will be alongside the new online reporting service, which is available for certain issues for those who wish to use it. There will be over 80 new police staff roles that will cover this, as well as other areas of Policing.

“This will be funded in four ways:

  • I am asking residents to contribute the equivalent of an additional £1 per month from an average household towards the cost of Policing in Kent. This is not a request I am making lightly but is something I believe is necessary to keep Kent safe.
  • I have reviewed Kent Police’s proposals for over £9m of cost savings and believe that, as they will have a minimal impact on the frontline, they should be delivered. There should be no excuse for using extra council tax to prop up inefficient practices and where better value for money can be delivered, it should be. This will help mitigate the pressures of pay and inflation.
  • I am cutting the cost of my own office by £200,000 and re-investing this money in the frontline. I already provide extra money from my budget for Kent Police projects, such as the Volunteer Police Cadets and mental health workers in the Force Control Room.
  • I am authorising the use of a further £5m of Kent Police’s reserves over three years, should it be required, to support the recruitment drive.

“There will also be other opportunities to increase Police Officer numbers and improve services further. The Police Transformation Fund, worth £175m, has been made available by the Government for new projects that reform the way that Forces operate and I will encourage more bids to access some of this money. I will also continue to drive collaboration with police colleagues and other agencies to make best use of property and improve delivery.

“This is an ambitious proposal. It will mean that residents get something back for the tax that they pay and value for money in what is spent in their name. It boosts Policing in Kent in urban and rural areas in the fight against antisocial behaviour, organised crime, fraud and cyber-crime, domestic abuse and road traffic offences. Victims will get a better service when they have been subject to heinous acts and more criminals will be brought to justice.

“I hope that you will support this vital boost. Please email your thoughts by 27 January. The proposed precept rise will then go to the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel for its approval on 8 February.”

Top 10 Tips to Beat the Burglar this Christmas


The weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest shopping weeks of the year and for many retailers often accounts for 70% of their annual revenue. Stocking our homes with the latest electronic gadgets, computers, jewellery and must-have accessories is the norm, unfortunately though it provides thieves with the perfect incentive to commit burglaries.

Christmas; A time for giving, receiving… and taking!
Please read these tips on ensuring your home is secure over Christmas and the New Year period.

  1. Deterring would-be criminals is one of the most effective forms of crime prevention.

    Invest in a motion sensor flood-light or even some outdoor Christmas lights to highlight your home’s exterior. This will hopefully make approaching your home too conspicuous for a burglar. Highlighting the fact your possessions are security marked and registered on Immobilise using window decals provides a further warning that your goods are marked, traceable and not worth the risk of stealing!

  2. Festive lighting – be secure.

    A common mistake of many festive decorators is to feed extension cables through partially open windows, criminals know to look for this vulnerability. When it comes to outdoor lighting, opt for solar or battery operated lights or install outdoor electrical outlets.

  3. Dispose of gift packaging carefully.

    Refuse collections over the Christmas / New Year period are normally at different times. If you can’t take packaging to a recycling point, make sure you only put your rubbish out just before the collection and do your best to fold boxes so that they do not advertise your new contents of your home to thieves!

  4. Protect your Identity.

    It is good practice never to dispose of receipts and personal paperwork without first shredding it. Christmas is a time when this is especially important! Be careful though not to shred any important warranty details, make sure documents you keep are stored somewhere secure.

  5. Check doors and windows for weak spots

    Government statistics show that 30% of burglaries happen through windows. Installing a few dead-bolts and new window hinges could increase the security of your home exponentially.

  6. Keep your curtains, drapes and window blinds closed at night,

    making sure valuable items are out of sight. When going out for the evening make use of inexpensive timers to give the illusion of occupancy.

  7. Away over Christmas – plan ahead.

    If you’re going away at Christmas be sure to cancel any newspaper or milk subscriptions. Arrange for a neighbour to park on the driveway to help create the impression someone is home. Do not to leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like “we’re away skiing for the Christmas holidays” etc and again make use of light timers.

  8. Secure garages & sheds.

    Make sure that garden tools or ladders that could be used to force entry into your home are not left lying around or accessible from an unlocked garden shed. Garages are often targets for burglars looking for tools, bikes and gardening equipment – make sure the garage is secure and your possessions are secured too in the case of bikes and tools. Naturally make sure anything portable / valuable is recorded on immobilise.

  9. Don’t hide keys & use alarms if you have them.

    Burglars know to look for hidden door keys so don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to family or trusted neighbour. Many houses these days have alarms, many though are rarely set, make sure yours is on and protecting your home.

  10. Register your property for FREE on Immobilise

    at . This is a national property database that the Police can access and search if we recover suspected stolen property. We regularly search houses of suspected criminals, we check second hand dealers, and visit car boot sales and we have a device that can identify stolen property if the bar code is registered. Don’t let them get away with your gear. Get it logged. Get it back.Most mobile phones have a unique identifier such as a serial number or an IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity) which can found easily by pressing the following keys on your mobile handset: * # 0 6 # . If your gift doesn’t have a unique identifier there are several affordable marking kits available (i.e. Smart Water / untra-violet pens). Contact your local PCSO for further advice.Hopefully your property will not be targeted by burglars but we do hope some of the advice provided helps to keep your home safe over the seasonal period and into the new year.

Lucas Fire & Security Ltd

Are you scam savvy this year?

Stop the ScammersCriminals will be taking advantage this Christmas to send a record number of scams to catch us out.

Last Christmas over £16 million was lost to online scams in the UK. 

Types of scams to avoid this Christmas

  • E-Vouchers – criminals share free e-vouchers on social media or by email for well-known brands. Victims are told to click on a link to claim which takes them to a fake website where they are asked for personal and banking details.
  • Wish lists – can be useful to tell your friends and family about what gifts you would like this year however these lists can contain personal information which criminals use steal their identity and they can use the items to send phishing emails.
  • Social Media deals – messages on social media offering deals has increased in the last few years and while some of them may be genuine , criminals will be taking advantage often trying to tempt people with deals on electronics and jewellery.

READ about scams and how to deal with them

Kent County Council 15 December 2017

What is a loan shark?

Call 0300 555 2222If your lender:

  • Offered you a cash loan,
  • Did not give you paperwork,
  • Added huge amounts of interest or APR to your loan,
  • Have threatened you,
  • Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you,


  • You are you scared of people finding out

they may be a loan shark.

You are not in trouble if you have borrowed cash or have been paying back a loan from an illegal money lender, the loan shark is. They are the people committing a crime, not you.

Report a loan shark, call Stop Loan Sharks on 0300 555 2222 or complete the form on their website:

Stop Loan Sharks is the England Illegal Money Lending Team of National Trading Standards

Alternative Place of Safety Workshops

East Kent Mental Health: Alternative Place of Safety Workshops

The East Kent Mental Health team are starting a new project looking at an adult, out of hours, therapeutic alternative place of safety (APoS) for east Kent residents experiencing mental health distress. We are inviting you to attend a workshop to get your views and ideas on what an Alternate Place of Safety in east Kent would look like, how it would operate and by whom.

Information, views and ideas gathered at these workshops will be used to develop an options paper on APoS for the East Kent Care Crisis Concordat steering group.

Ashford; date to be confirmed (to be mid October) 5 – 7pm Venue: Tesco Extra community room, Crooksfoot, Hythe Road, Wilesborough, Ashford, TN24 0YE

If you are interested in attending the workshop click the link here! (this will open up a google form)

These workshops will be run by Louise Piper and Sarah Parker from the East Kent Mental Health Team. If you can not access the booking form and would like a paper copy sent through or have other questions, please email: