2011 - PNWA

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2011

Passed alerts

21 December 2011

Cold calling for property repairs during bad weather

Lancashire residents are to be warned not to do business with doorstep callers who may offer to carry out repairs to property after the spell of bad weather. A lady in the Lytham St Annes area recently paid £6,000 for some roof repairs when in fact no work had been carried out.

As usual, the advice is to only use reputable trades people, rather than cold callers who may not give correct details. For help in finding a trader to carry out property repairs, contact Help Direct on 0303 333 1111 or go to www.safetrader.org.uk .

Telesales for security systems

Currently Preston and Broughton areas are reporting receiving telephone calls from a business offering to fit security alarms, falsely claiming to be working with the Police. The business will make an appointment to call at your home.
Trading Standards advice is to say no to such sales visits, which can often use high pressure selling techniques to get you to sign up. Telesales calls can be significantly reduced by joining the Telephone Preference Service, to register for this free service ring 0845 0700707.

Energy prepayment cards

Reports have been received of door to door sales of half price energy pre payment cards for household meters. Do not be tempted to buy these over the doorstep – they will not work and you will have to pay again for the legitimate card.

Unsolicited shower fitting

Lancashire residents are receiving a card through their doors advising their shower fitting is on the way, if you do not want it please contact us within 10 days with your name and address details. This is a legitimate company, the shower fitting is free but Trading Standards advice is beware of who you pass your personal details onto.

Please also be aware you are under no duty to return any unsolicited goods received and you do not have to pay for them.

Unsolicited energy saving devices

Householders throughout the country are receiving telesales calls claiming to be their energy supplier or working in partnership with them, offering a plug in device which they say can save them 40 per cent off their energy bills. The device costs £99.

Trading Standards have had a number of the items tested which not only fail to satisfy electrical safety but do not deliver any tangible energy savings.

Hong Kong Bank Scam

This banking scam is still doing the rounds, currently in Lytham St Annes and Ormskirk. T he personally addressed letter explains that a client with the same name as the recipient has died and left $6.8 million unclaimed.

Hiu Au-Yeung suggests that the recipient could receive 50% of this sum, just for providing their details so that the money can be transferred out of Hong Kong. The letter asks for no money or details at this point but similar scams rely on asking for money to pay for administrative details and using the victim's bank details to steal from their account.

 

Earlier this month, Trading Standards warned of a similar scam involving a letter purporting to be from Pan Wang Ong, from the Hung Kai Finance Company in Hong Kong.

18 November 2011
SCAMS

PARCEL COLLECTION

A Lancashire resident received an email from an alleged trader called USPS telling them to collect a parcel which they couldn't deliver. To be able to collect, attachments needed to be downloaded. Be aware of downloading such attachments when you are not aware of any parcel being delivered – it will be a scam.

This is similar to a very old scam – whereby a card is put through your door asking you to ring a number to arrange collection of a parcel. There is no parcel but the telephone call lasts for a few minutes at a premium rate. The email warning of this is still doing the rounds but is not a current scam.

PAYMENT BY UCASH VOUCHER

Various forms of this scam are still out there. One Lancashire resident received a telephone call stating claiming links with 'Windows' claiming to need to repair the computer - but first the user had to send UCash vouchers as payment.

A similar scam has asked for Pay Safe vouchers to enable a consumer to redeem money owed by the bank –the caller suggests they are linked to Trading Standards.

BT SCAM

Calls are being received by Lancashire residents from a man stating he is from BT, offering to refund an overpayment of broadband charges (whether you own a computer or not) and asking for bank details.

LETTERS FROM SINGAPORE / HONG KONG


Householders are receiving letters that look as if they are posted in this country offering, for a fee, money from an individual whose surname is the same as the householder, who has died without a will. This is a scam – do not send any money up front.

MEMORY FOAM MATTRESSES


Are still being reported as being sold door to door – currently in the Chorley and Bamber Bridge areas.

15 November 2011

COLD CALLING INCIDENTS

Burnley area


Residents are being cold called by a trader offering to carry out roofing work. They are also distributing flyers advertising roofing, guttering, pointing, lead work – please do not be tempted to call, always use reputable known traders

Earby & Bacup

Residents have reported incidents of cold calling to carry out roofing work. White males, local accents driving white van.  

Garstang


Cold callers have been reported knocking on doors offering to re tarmac driveways. White male with an Irish accent.

Carnforth/ Silverdale

White male in white car offering to carry out roofing work, repairs to garage doors.

TELESALES INCIDENTS

South Ribble

The Microsoft scam  is currently rife in the South Ribble area. The fee asked for is £160 for a cleaning virus protection. The scammers gain access to your computer and allege there is a problem. The caller has an Asian accent and asks for your bank account details. This is a scam, the caller initially wants the payment up front for nothing in return, but beware, by giving them access to your computer they may also be able to access personal details, further bank information.

Lytham area


Residents have reported receiving high pressure telesales calls from a company offering a free security system. Whilst the system may be free the monthly payments to be signed up to for the monitoring service will not be – please be aware before you agree to a visit from an advisor/ salesman. Remember if you want an alarm system – shop around, use local known traders.

EMAIL SCAM

Again a scam email form Anglo Gold Corp is doing the rounds asking for a reliable person to assist with the transfer of $15million to a safe foreign account. Do not respond.


 Cold Calling Incidents

 Lancaster Area

Reports of door to door selling of security systems have been received in the Morecambe area. Often the alarm may be sold as free, but consumers will be asked to sign a maintenance contract, making a monthly payment for up to 5 years. Residents are reminded to shop around and not to feel pressurised in to making instant decisions after what may be 'hard sell' tactics.

Lytham area

Door to door selling of loft insulation and cavity wall insulation has been reported. Remember grants are available for this type of work – householders do not have to make an instant decision, ring Help Direct (0303 333 1111) for a local trader who will carry out this work.

Kirkham area

Cold callers are in the area offering to install dry verges, reports have been received that payment has been demanded whilst the work is being carried out with householders being pressurised into going to the bank.

Fulwood

Door to door selling of tea towels - seller very persistant. Again, Trading Standards advice is not to do business at the door, even if for only relatively small amounts of money.

Accrington

Roofers offering repairs, claiming they have been doing work in the area, on the local estate, and noticed a problem with the householders roof. This is not likely to be the case, just a tactic to get the householder to agree to the work.

Scams

CRIMINALS are targeting the region with a new “advance fee” cash scam. Householders receive a telephone call or an email requesting an advance fee, in the form of a Ukash voucher — like an online postal order — for reclaiming bank charges. The scammers claim to be from the Ministry of Finance, Money Saving Expert or a loan company asking you to send them a fee in the form of a Ukash voucher code. In all cases, this will be people trying to scam money from you.”

Trading Standards have also had reported a similar scam but householders have been requested to draw £100 from the ATM, and the suggestion is the scammer will call for the money.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit actionfraud.org.uk

Trading Standards Warnings

30 September 2011

COLD CALLING INCIDENTS


Brinscall

Residents are being cold called by a utilities salesman wanting to explain a cash saving deal. Once in your home, reports have been received that consumers have felt pressurised into signing there and then to get the offer.

Trading Standards advice is always to shop around, you do not need to sign there and then, do not feel pressurised to do so.

Burnley Area

Two males in their 20's are cold calling residents in the Burnley area offering to cut trees and bushes down. They drive a white transit style van and are reported to act aggressively.

Lancaster Area

Residents are to be on the alert for traders cold calling offering tarmacing and driveway work – remember never to do business on your doorstep or agree to work by cold caller.

Fleetwood


Traders have been cold calling in the Fleetwood area offering to sell compost and/ or compost your garden for you. Allegedly the compost has been of poor quality and the price to pay has been more than originally agreed.

Sheds and Garages Warning (Sgt. Dixon Lea ) 24/09/2011

Hi Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators,

This e-mail is just to inform you that we are having a number of burglaries into sheds and garages at the moment. There are no specific locations they are spead out over Lea sector. Please can you advise your watch members to lock their sheds/garages. If there are valuables inside to try to lock them up seperatley inside the shed. If possible buy a shed alarm, most hardware stores have these. A recent break in was unsuccessful because the owner had a shed alarm and the offenders made off without any property. The items that are being stolen are mainly tools and pedal cycles. Please ensure such items are locked away and out of sight. If you wish to discuss this further please contact me on the number below. thanks Helen PS 2766 Helen Dixon Lea Neighbourhood Policing Sgt Tel: 209437

Vehicle crime alert (Sgt. Dixon Lea) 15/09/2011

Dear Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator

Lea Sector is currently suffering a spate of thefts from vehicles. The majority of the vehicles targeted are either insecure or have property on display . The main area that is being targeted is the Tulketh and Greyfriers ward, however there have been thefts across the entire sector of Lea.

Please can you ask your Neighbourhood Watch group to be vigilant please ensure vehicles are locked and secured and any property is removed. The thieves have been taking a variety of items from clothing and bags to sat navs and lap tops.

To date Lea police have made two arrests. The Neighbourhood Policing teams have conducted leaflet drops and have targeted individuals who we believe are committing the offences.

Please pass this information on. Please report any suspicious behaviour to the numbers below:

Lea police station: 209441. Preston Communications : 203203. Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

5 September 2011

Council Tax Rebanding

Lancashire residents are warned to be on their guard from cold callers who claim to be able to cut their Council Tax bills. Residents in Wyre have reported receiving unsolicited telephone calls from a business offering to investigate if their property's Council Tax banding should be lowered in return for a percentage of any potential refund.

While this practice is legal, Trading Standards are alerting people that they can check their banding themselves at no cost. Other companies offering a similar service may also charge an upfront fee.

If a property is believed to be in the wrong banding then an appeal can be made to the Valuation Office Agency, the government organisation responsible for valuing the property and setting the banding. Any refund owning would be paid by the local district council. Anyone who has questions about their Council Tax banding can find out more on the Direct.Gov website www.direct.gov.uk and the Valuation Office Agency website www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/index.html

Alarm Companies

LANCASHIRE residents to be on their guard against cold calling alarm companies offering deals which at first glance seem too good to be true.

There has been a recent increase in complaints about firms offering alarm systems for free or for nominal amounts, but with a catch that the buyer is then tied into an expensive maintenance and monitoring agreement.

The firms make initial contact by telephone, often claiming to be linked with the Police or crime prevention initiatives and offer free or very cheap burglar alarms. When the business representative then goes round to the house, they use hard sell tactics to persuade the householder to sign up to a maintenance contract costing thousands of pounds.

Local Cold Calling issues:

Roofers have been reported cold calling in the Leyland area offering to paint or repair your roof

Tarmacers have been reported in the Burnley area offering to replace driveways

Orthopeadic mattrasses being sold out of the back of a van reported in the Chorley and Leyland areas

Latest Emails Scams Circulating

An email scam alleging to be from a retired military officer, Deacon Charles Olatunji, in the Nigerian Army who has access to monies and after becoming a born again Christian wishes to send monies to individuals to use in their own Ministry. To get access to such monies personal bank details would need to be given – never divulge such information.

Business proposal scam letter alleging to be from Anglo Gold Corp. The letter states 'I got your contact address in the course of my search for a reliable person with whom to handle a very confidential transaction involving the transfer of fund valued Fifteen Million United State Dollars Only ($15M) to a safe foreign account.' Again do not divulge bank account details.

24 August 2011

Microsoft Scam is Back

Please be aware of telephone calls alleging to be from Microsoft stating your PC has reported an error message, has been hacked, or is running slowly offering advice on how to fix the problem.

A spate of complaints has been received about conmen posing as workers from software giant Microsoft who encourage people to download software to fix a non-existent problem with their home PC. Such calls can encourage you to hand over bank details to buy software but can also be ask you to switch on your PC and download software there and then which could give the scammer remote access to your computer.

OFT Warning re Scam Loan Companies

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning people to steer clear of scam loan companies who take upfront fees but fail to provide credit or offer clearly unsuitable credit alternatives.  

The OFT is alerting consumers after seeing a 50 per cent year-on-year rise in complaints about loan scams, particularly credit applications which involve the consumer 'wiring' or sending upfront fees through money transfer companies.

The OFT advises people to be vigilant when dealing with or taking calls from loan companies that want upfront fees and who are not interested in consumers' credit history.

More telesales calls to be aware of


Calls have been received by Lancashire residents from a business selling tablets for arthritis and asking for your bank details. Any products claiming to treat or cure a disease can only be sold with a medicinal products licence – please be suspicious of such products being sold over the phone, the main aim may be to get your bank details.

More Emails Scams Circulating

Beware of scam emails asking for your name and address and banking details:

An email alleging to be from Sierra Leone requesting assistance in investing money into the UK from family whose parents were murdered by rebels. The amount to be invested alleges to be US$18,500.000.00 and of course bank details are required.

An American based home working scheme scam aimed at 'high school drop outs' stating $3,700 can be made every few days. The email is written in a very friendly and believable manner and gives a link to click on.

An email from an international hotel stating monies have been taken from your credit card by mistake and to let them know your correct bank details for the monies to be refunded.

Western Union Scam

A flyer from Western Union received via email stating your email address has just won the sum of USD$600,000 and to begin the verification process of your prize; you are required to forward your bank account details to the transferring manager. You are advised to contact a named agent and provide bank details, date of birth, occupation and beneficiary details.

Cold Callers

 Doorstep callers have been reported cold calling in the Walton le Dale  area offering to do roofing work. Issues with value and quality of the work completed.

oofers have also been reported cold calling in the Morecambe area – the traders are persistent, calling at the same house on several occasions despite being turned away.

21st July

Tarmaccers

Reports of doorstep callers offering to tarmac drives have been received in the past month from Ormskirk, Chorley, Thornton Cleveleys and Colne areas of Lancashire, including one instance where work was carried out without the permission of the householder. If you need any house maintenance work carrying out, use the Safe Trader Scheme to find a trader, https://www.traderregister.org.uk/index.php

 

Roof Coating
Reports from Lytham St Annes and Accrington have been received in relation to doorstep sellers offering to coat your roof, making it waterproof and retain heat. The sale was linked in with reducing fuel bills and the availability of a government grant for the work was implied. No government grants are available for any roof paint/ coating, in general, roof coatings are purely cosmetic, be very wary of claims made.


Bogus callers-Trading Standards Warning

Beware telesales re council tax refunds, Door to door mattress sales

14 June 2011

Council Tax Refunds

Lancashire residents are receiving telephone calls claiming to be able to offer, for a fee, refunds on Council Tax, that the home owner has overpaid or is in the wrong tax band. In some instances the homeowner has thought they had been contacted by the local council. Residents should be aware that if they are entitled to any refund they will be able to find this out themselves by contacting their local council direct and not incurring any fee.

Memory Foam Mattress

Reports are being received throughout the North West of door to door selling of memory foam mattresses. Cheshire and Blackpool have reported incidents of residents buying the mattresses from a man in a van who has approached them on the street or at their door. Recently another incident has been reported in the Leyland area, the mattress allegedly being worth a £1,000.

As always, Trading Standards advice is never to do business on the doorstep.

Bogus callers-Trading Standards Warning

25 May 2011

Bank Charges Scam

Lancashire residents have been receiving unsolicited telephone calls from a business alleging to be able to retrieve bank charges for a fee of £200. The resident is informed they are due a refund of bank charges of over £3,000 and advised to go to their local shop and obtain an Ucash voucher/moneygram for £200 which a representative from the business will be round to collect later in the day.

Inheritance Scam

Lancashire residents have received a letter alleging to be from an employee at a Hong Kong bank stating a relative (surname the same as the recipient) has recently died leaving an inheritance of around $6.8 million. The resident is asked to keep the matter a secret and to contact the writer who will share the inheritance. The letter is post marked in this country with a second class stamp affixed.

Bogus callers-Trading Standards Warning

7 April 2011

As spring and summer approaches please be aware that it is an opportune time for doorstep sellers to call on the vulnerable offering anything from the usual gardening services, tarmacing, putting up fascia boards and roofing through to selling manure. See below:

West Lancs and Thornton Cleveleys area:

Doorstep sellers have been offering to sell manure. The consumer may believe they are buying a couple of bags only to find the sellers spreading the manure for them and charging more than the initial expected price.

Preston area:

A cold caller is operating in the Preston area offering to fit fascias, soffits, dry verges and carrying out roofing repairs. Such traders can be highly persuasive and carry out the work there and then. Please be aware that any guarantees offered by cold callers where no reliable name and address details are given are likely to not be valid. Best advice would be to get 3 quotes to get a good indication of a fair price.

Ribble Valley area:

Beware of cold callers offering to clean your flags. Whilst an initial price may be agreed the traders may come back asking for more money.

Financial/ legal advice to the older person:

Older residents of Lancashire have been offered free advice on legal services in case they should need to go into care. The resident receives a telephone call and agrees to a visit. Sometimes home owners can agree to sell their houses at a fraction of their worth.

18 February 2011

Council tax Scam

Lancashire residents have contacted Trading Standards to report a council tax refund scam. Residents have received a phone call allegedly from their local District Council telling them they are entitled to a refund of their council tax and a payment of £7000 can be paid into their account. The caller requests confirmation of the consumer's name and address and then asks for bank account details to transfer the money. The caller than asks for £100 fee to process the refund.

Trading Standards have confirmed that the caller is not calling on behalf of their district Council and advise that consumers should not give out bank details to unverified callers. Anyone who has given out their bank details to a caller like this should contact their bank immediately.

Anyone who thinks they might be eligible for a refund should contact their local council directly on a verified phone number. If you are entitled to a refund on your council tax you should never be asked to pay a fee to receive a refund.

DVLA scam

18 February 2011

Watch out for emails claiming to be from DVLA asking you to verify your driving licence details via an online link.  DVLA has not sent any such email, so if you get one delete it immediately.  The email appears to be an attempt to trick drivers into providing personal details.  If you get the email, do not respond to it and delete it immediately.

To view a copy of the email on the Directgov website follow the link below www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_194193

Mobile texts

18 February 2011

 As with any other communication medium, beware of scam texts to mobile phones that may promise monies when the main purpose is to get you to reply and the response text may be charged at a much higher than usual rate.

An example of a text recently sent read as follows:

Free Message. Our records indicate you may be entitled to £3750 for

the accident you had. To claim for free, reply with "aid" to this

message, or text stop.

 Phishing emails sent to taxpayers

18 February 2011

Taxpayers are warned to be vigilant following a surge of fake ‘phishing' emails sent out by fraudsters, following the 31 January Self Assessment tax return filing deadline.

The email informs the recipient they are due a tax rebate, and provides a click-through link to a replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is asked to provide their credit card details. Fraudsters then try to take money from the account using the details provided.

Scamnesty Month – 1 st to 28 th February

1 February 2011

Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service is calling on all residents in the county to fight back against the fraudsters by dropping your scam mailing into your local Scamnesty bin located around the county.  The bins are located at County Council buildings, local libraries, police stations, citizens' advice bureaus and Help Direct access points across Lancashire.

Any scam mail you drop in the bins could help to gather intelligence on the latest scams happening in Lancashire and help Trading Standards to catch the offenders who bring misery to thousands of people each year."

A list of the locations of the scamnesty bins can be found at www.lancashire.gov.uk/scamnesty .

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