Scams and warnings
Warning and alerts July - September 2013
Driving licence application warning - 20 September 2013
We continue to receive regular reports from local residents who have fallen for online driving licence renewal and test booking websites.
Residents searching the Internet in connection with Driving License renewals, address changes or to book a test have clicked on the first search results which are usually a 'Sponsored Link'. These are types of advertisements which advertisers pay for and as a result usually appear at the top of any search results.
However, whilst most will have a disclaimer stating that they are independent of the Official website one that we are aware of looks very similar even using the same format and similar colours.
But beware, some of these 'independent' websites give the impression that they are taking a fee for the full cost of processing and submitting an application but what they are in fact charging for, which is sometimes very similar to the official fees, is to check your application before it is submitted. This means that you will still need to pay for the application to be processed.
Whilst it is not illegal to charge to check an application, we strongly advise residents to make sure they read all the terms and conditions first to make sure that they are happy to pay just for an application to be checked before it is submitted where further fees may apply.
There are similar sites for renewing passports, booking driving & theory tests as well as for EHIC Health Cards [previously E111] which does not cost anything to obtain or renew.
Door to Door Trader - 20 September 2013
Information received would indicate that a false and misleading claim is being made by a trader possibly in order to secure work following reports of a leaflet drop in the Stoke area of the City.
In the advertisement the trader claims to be a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen but enquiries made to the Guild indicates that the trader is not a member.
The Guild conducts 'rigorous' vetting of applicants and will seek references from customers before considering an application. They also have a helpline to assist in finding a trader and offer a conciliation scheme should something go wrong.
Our advice is to always check any claims made about membership of Trade Associations or links to official agencies and report any that you find to be making false claims.
Also remember, if you require any home improvements or gardening work we suggest using Age UK Coventry's Trusted Traders which is available to people of all ages living in the Coventry area and is provided in conjunction with Coventry Trading Standards. For Trusted Traders, telephone: 024 7623 1999.
Don't get caught out by a Bad Apple? - 17 September 2013
With Apple's new handsets going on sale Friday, Coventry Trading Standards are warning customers against buying fake iPhones by highlighting some of things to look out for.
Trading standards would advise anyone who is offered an iPhone from any source other than that from an official Apple retailer to be wary especially if you come across a website offering phones at a fraction of the real price.
The risks of not buying from an authentic Apple dealer or outlet are real with recent reports of fake iPhones together with fake USB Power Adapters being linked with a spate of accidents including electrocutions as well as a death in China, where counterfeit Apple products are apparently rife.
With fake phones & other accessories looking virtually identical to the real item there are some simple checks you can carry out.
How to spot a fake iPhone
- Official handsets will come with a serial number printed on the rear of the device.
- This serial number can be entered into Apple's Service and Support Checker to confirm a phone's authenticity.
- An official box is not an indication of an official phone - boxes can be recycled.
- Check for the 'Designed by Apple in California' stamp.
- Only buy from official retailers.
To check whether a serial number has been forged, repeated, or if an old box with an old serial number has been used with the fake handset, customers can type the number into Apple's support site.
Serial numbers can be found on the rear of the phone's box, on an official receipt or on the rear of the device.
The Service and Support Checker will confirm if a handset is the real-deal or not.
Online Birmingham based WAE+ has gone into Administration - 13 September 2013
Coventry Trading Standards have been advised that online electrical goods retailer WAE+ of 180 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 1SJ, has been placed into Administration.
Any customers with outstanding orders / refunds will be contacted in writing by the Administrators to advise of the course of action they will need to take. If payments have been made by credit / debit card, you are advised to contact your card provider or bank in the first instance.
The appointed Administrator is: Imogen CM Davidson of Baines & Ernst Corporate Ltd., Lloyds House, 18 - 22 Lloyd Street, Manchester M2 5BE [Tel: 0844 704 8907]
Fake Sky Technical Support Calls - 13 September 2013
Colleagues have issued a warning after they received a report from a consumer who had a call from someone claiming to be from "Sky Technical Support". The consumer is an existing customer of Sky and the caller claimed they could reduce the cost of their Sky 'bundle' by removing the insurance 'Sky Digital Protect' from the account.
The caller asked for credit card details, 'for reference only' and promised not to debit any money from the card. The customer became suspicious when the caller phoned back to get further bank details. The customer contacted their bank to put a stop on the card and found out that a total of £54 had already been charged to the card.
Whilst we have not had any similar reports in the Coventry area we urge local residents to BE VERY WARY OF ANY UNSOLICITED CALLS REQUESTING YOUR PERSONAL AND CARD DETAILS.
If you are a customer of the company calling then take details of the call and hang up. Then contact the company on a number you know to be correct. If you are a Sky customer and you have received a call like this then contact Sky directly using a telephone number from your recent statement.
Pestered by nuisance calls, follow OFCOM guidance - 13 September 2013
An investigation by 3 Scottish Trading Standards authorities has revealed that about 40% of the phone calls received by older and vulnerable residents in Scotland are nuisance calls.
It is estimated that across the UK, the average household receives seven nuisance calls a month, however, 40% of the phone calls received by older and vulnerable residents in Scotland are nuisance calls.
The research also found that by using new call blocking technology, up to 98% of nuisance calls were blocked leaving residents feeling safer and in greater control of who contacts them.
OFCOM, the Communications Regulator have issued the following guidance for residents to follow if they are pestered by nuisance calls:
- Don't give out your telephone number un-necessarily and tick that you don't want to be contacted with promotional material etc. when signing contracts or registering for anything.
- Register with the telephone preference service 0845 070 0707 (will reduce calls but not stop them all)http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/.
- Go ex-directory.
- Check the call blocking facilities available from your telephone provider.
- Consider buying a call blocker device.
- Marketing calls are allowed but not if you tell the business you don't want to receive them or you are registered with the Telephone Preference Service - complain to TPS on 0845 070 R0707.
- If you receive silent or abandoned calls contact OFCOM: 0300 1233333.
Trading standards give Hajj fraud warning - 13 September 2013
Coventry Trading Standards are reminding the city's Muslim community to be wary of any last minute deals to one of the most religious events of the year. The Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able.
However, every year fraudulent and illegal travel operators take advantage of the pilgrimage and set up fake companies to fleece pilgrims out of their money.
Every year over two million pilgrims participate in the Hajj with Muslims converging on Mecca - the holiest place in Islam - in Saudi Arabia. This year it is estimated that the Hajj pilgrimage will fall between 13 and 15 October.
However, in June the Ministry of Hajj announced that due to infrastructure works in Makkah, there would be a global 20% reduction in the numbers of Hajj pilgrims and quotas imposed on Muslim-majority countries. Pilgrims who have performed Hajj in the past five years will not be granted a visa, although certain exemptions may apply, such as for those accompanying disabled pilgrims.
Before you book or travel for the Hajj, you should carefully consider the information and advice on the websites of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, and on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
In the past criminals have posed as legitimate travel operators, offering discounts on the normal travel price, but shortly before the departure the tour operator closes, leaving the victim with no tour and no prospect of a refund.
To avoid falling victim to Hajj fraud:
- Make sure your travel agent/tour operator is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) protected.
- Check that your travel agent/tour operator is accredited by the Saudi Embassy.
- Check exactly what you are paying for.
- Get everything in writing.
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of Hajj fraud should report to their local police or to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, on 0300 123 2040. Action Fraud has a facility to help individuals whose first language is not English.
Companies House - Scam Alert - 6 September 2013
Companies House have made us aware of random e-mails claiming to be from Companies House with a 'zipfile' mail attachment that are being sent out. These e-mails have not been generated by Companies House who have confirmed that they would never ask anyone to disclose personal or payment information by e-mail.
Their advice is that if you have any doubt that an e-mail you receive from Companies House is genuine, please do not follow any links, open any attachments, disclose any personal details or respond to it.
Instead, forward it to Companies House at: firstname.lastname@example.org then delete it.
Land Registry phishing e-mail - 6 September 2013
A colleague from the City Council alerted us to an e-mail they received which looked very official claiming to be from the Land Registry which quoted a Notification date, Notification Number & Mandate Number and also said that they would be taking money from their account. To prevent this they were asked to click on a link to update their account.
The Land Registry have confirmed that they would never send such an e-mail and have issued their own warning which can be viewed via the website: Form - Land Registry for England and Wales
Our advice: DO NOT click on any links or open any attachments that arrive with the e-mail; instead delete the e-mail.
Council Tax refund scam - 6 September 2013
A local resident sent in an e-mail they received claiming they were entitled to a Council Tax Refund of £274.39 GBP!
This particular e-mail was from a 'Rodney Williams - Tax Credit Officer of Direct Gov Credit Office, Preston' who says that the refund is due following an error at 'the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity' being identified.
Mr Williams goes on to say that to reclaim the overpaid tax the attached form needs to be completed and returned. Had the resident opened the attachment no doubt they would have been asked to supply among other things their personal information and also their bank details.
Mr Williams also wanted the recipient to keep the contents of the e-mail quiet saying - 'further dissemination or distribution of the e-mail is prohibited'.
There are other reported incidents around the Country where scammers telephone residents saying they are entitled to a refund of their council tax which 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 also asks for £100 fee to process the refund.
If you think you might be eligible for a refund contact your local council directly on a verified phone number. No Local Authority would ask you to pay a fee to receive a refund.
Anyone who has given out their bank details to a caller like this should contact their bank immediately for advice.
Avoid loan scam telephone calls and websites - 6 September 2013
Trading Standards are warning local residents to look out for scam operators offering loans online and through direct marketing phone calls. We regularly receive information from consumers and our local Citizens Advice Bureau about scammers who take upfront fees and then fail to provide the promised loan.
The typical telephone scams involve consumers receiving 'cold calls' offering easy-access loans in return for an advance fee. After the fee is paid, the 'Loan Company' disappears and the consumer, having paid the often substantial fee never hears from them again. With the culprits often based overseas, it can be virtually impossible for the consumer to get their money back. Website scams operate in a similar manner, with consumers keen to receive a loan coming across what looks like genuine websites with well-designed graphics; but with the same outcome.
Fees requested can vary but can amount to hundreds of pounds.
Unfortunately as the scammers are usually based abroad, it is difficult to take Enforcement or other formal action. However, Trading Standards can sometimes disrupt their activities by trying to get scam sites taken off-line or e-mail addresses blocked.
Recently Highland Trading Standards were successful at removing six websites:
Whilst not technically illegal, upfront fees are often an indicator that the lender is not legitimate. We would urge consumers to be on their guard and never do business with a loan company without making checks about them and to be very wary about any firm charging upfront fees.
Quick House Sales warning - 30 August 2013
Coventry Trading Standards are warning local residents to be on their guard regarding companies that offer quick house sales for cash. This comes after a leaflet drop in the Stoke area offering such a service.
When a house is sold through these means, you can expect to get about 25% less than its market value, but in return, a consumer will get fast access to cash. However, the concern is that some unscrupulous companies will attempt to reduce the offer very close to the completion date, and potentially leave the householder £1,000's out of pocket and little option but to accept.
In August an Office of Fair Trading study found some consumers ended up handing over their home for less than ½ its market value. A formal investigation into three firms for alleged unfair trading practices has now begun.
Further information and 'Top Tips' for home sellers who choose to use this type of service can be found at:http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/markets-work/quick-house-sales/
Jobseekers targeted by scammers - 30 August 2013
Trading Standards is warning people to be extra vigilant when applying for work, especially through online agencies.
Reports from partner agencies show that scam companies are cloning large company profiles to target those who are actively searching for work.
After showing an interest in a role, job seekers were promptly offered a position and asked to send cash through the post to secure the role. The candidates were then pressurised to e-mail proof of identity, such as passport, ID card, address details and National Insurance number.
Trading Standards is advising people not to give any information out about themselves on receipt of an e-mail alone and to not be tempted by the offer of a job without a phone call or interview taking place.
Remember - All scammers are opportunists and use all sorts of avenues to prey on the most vulnerable in society. This is a prime example of how scammers target all ages and backgrounds, using the high unemployment concerns to target those desperate to find work and earn money in a bid to maintain their home and support their families.
Warning over unauthorised airport parking services - 30 August 2013
Colleagues in Essex have issued a warning reminding airport passengers & holiday makers to do their research before choosing online parking services for their cars at airports following reports of finding vehicles damaged, theft of property from cars or finding hundreds of extra miles on the clock when they come to collect their cars.
Each year the Trading Standards service receive complaints from members of the public who have left their car with a 'meet and greet' service they have found online.
There are so many other things to arrange when you go on holiday that it is easy to look at car parking online and concentrate on price or availability rather than reading the small print. Some companies offering 'meet and greet' services do not have full contact details on their websites so you may have no way of making contact if you have a complaint. In some cases claims of secure parking can actually mean a field or a street near to the airport.
Our advice is to use the official airport car parking facilities or use a 'meet and greet' service provided by a Trusted Traders Scheme or Buy With Confidence service run in conjunction with some Trading Standards.
Buy With Confidence traders can be accessed by calling 08454 040506 or by visitinghttp://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/
Rogue traders pension scam - 30 August 2013
Watch out for phone calls from people offering to do a home visit to discuss how you can reinvest frozen pensions to get a better return on your investment.
Rogue callers may claim that they can transfer pensions and "reinvest it" but the concern is that personal and sensitive information will be requested during the call which could be used by fraudster to commit fraud.
Our advice is never to divulge personal information to anyone who cold calls and to seek financial advice from an approved third party financial advisor before making any decisions on pension transfers or investments.
Beware bank card courier scam - 23 August 2013
Coventry Trading Standards are reissuing their warning from earlier this month following an article that appeared in the National Press of an elderly person who was robbed of £4,500 to a telephone scam known as 'courier' fraud.
The highlighted case is just one of thousands of elderly and vulnerable savers cheated of a total of £10million last year through this one scam.
The way it works is that you receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be a Police Officer from the Metropolitan Police Force who says your bank details had been cloned. The caller asks for confirmation of the victim's banking details and arranges to call around to their home to collect the original bank cards. The same or the following day a man posing as a Police Officer then attends to collect the bank cards which can then be used fraudulently.
Trading Standards would urge residents not to give bank or other sensitive information including PIN numbers to anyone who telephones their home; even if they say they are a Police Officer.
These offenders are very plausible and will even give telephone numbers to the victims to check their credentials but these numbers go to the fraudster.
Should you receive a call from anyone claiming to be a Police Officer we would urge people not to hand any bank cards over to anyone calling at your home, and contact your local force by calling 101. They will be able to verify the identity of any person telephoning your home. Alternatively you can always go into your local police station or bank in person and speak to a representative direct to verify what is happening.
If you think your cards have been compromised contact your bank immediately.
Mattress sellers - 23 August 2013
Door to door mattress sellers have again been reported in several areas of the City including Longford, Hillfields & Binley. Names being used include Beds 4 U, Sleep Eazy & Dreamers.
Our advice - don't buy products on the doorstep from an unknown source especially mattresses where there is no guarantee that they comply with the relevant Safety Regulations. There are also hygiene implications to be considered as well.
Microsoft PC scam continues - 23 August 2013
We continue to receive reports involving phone calls from people falsely claiming to be from Microsoft saying that they have been notified that you have a virus or other issues with your PC which they can fix for a fee but will also require to remotely access your computer.
Allowing remote access to your computer may lead to the caller installing an antivirus programme that you could most probably download for free from the internet. Alternatively they may interrogate your PC for personal information which could then be used for fraudulent purposes. They could also install malware that may damage your PC.
Our advice as with any unsolicited call from someone offering a service etc. is not to deal with them no matter what they say or claim.
Microsoft has a warning on its website. In this they state: Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.
Co-op Bank phishing scams - 23 August 2013
Watch out for unsolicited & unexpected e-mails claiming to be from a bank, building society or government agency, trying to trick you into giving private information that can be used for identity theft or fraud.
Most e-mails we have seen claim that it is necessary to 'update' or 'verify' account information, supply information to release payments, prevent services from expiring or confirm personal information. Many will try to get you to click on a link in the e-mail which will take you to the phishing site, others will have a form attached which they ask you to complete and return.
Banks & building societies would never ask you to confirm or verify personal and sensitive information via an e-mail. If you receive an e-mail which you are unsure about or think it is a phishing e-mail don't open it but delete it.
Telephone Preference Service scam - 23 May 2013
Beware of telephone calls from people claiming they can stop unwanted & nuisance phone calls for a small cost!
Instead consider registering your number for FREE with the Telephone Preference Service [TPS] -http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html The TPS is a free opt out service enabling you to record your preference on an official register and not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
If you are already registered with the TPS then you should not have received a call from someone offering to stop nuisance calls.
Safety recall - IKEA KRITTER and SNIGLAR junior beds - 21 August 2013
Trading Standards would like to highlight a product recall by IKEA who have issued a recall for repair on a number of KRITTER and SNIGLAR junior beds due to a laceration hazard.
IKEA have asked customers who have a KRITTER or SNIGLAR junior bed to immediately check the date stamp on the label attached to either the headboard or the underside of the bed.
IKEA has received 7 reports of breakage of the metal rod connecting the guardrail to the bed frame. A broken rod could expose sharp metal edges, presenting a laceration hazard. No reports of any injuries caused by breakage of the metal rod have been reported.
Only KRITTER junior beds with date stamp (YYWW) from 1114 to 1322 and SNIGLAR junior beds with date stamp from 1114 to 1318 are affected.
Customers with an affected product are asked to visit their local IKEA store or contact IKEA customer services on 0203 645 0010 or e-mail email@example.com at the earliest opportunity to receive a repair kit free of charge or alternatively an exchange or refund.
Scam phone call claiming to be from the Coventry Building Society - 9 August 2013
A Radford resident has alerted us to a telephone call they received this week claiming to be from The Coventry Building Society.
The resident was informed there had been an error with their mortgage and as a result a £2600 refund was due payable by cheque which would be delivered personally.
However, before this could be done, a Ukash voucher had to be purchased for £200.
The caller said that once the voucher had been bought, they would phone again so that arrangements could be made to deliver the cheque.
Thankfully, the resident was very suspicious, and called The Coventry Building Society who confirmed that this was a hoax, and they would never make such calls.
Ukash vouchers can be purchased online or at a shop with each having a unique code which is needed to cash it. This means it can be cashed anywhere in the world and once cashed the money is irrecoverable and the person cashing it is untraceable making this method of payment highly attractive to fraudsters. Treat them and use them as you would treat cash.
Our advice is to always act with caution when receiving unsolicited telephone calls. Never provide your personal or bank account details to anybody who cold calls and don't be intimidated into making a quick decision.
Mobile phone delivery scam - 9 August 2013
Coventry Trading Standards have been made aware of an incident where a resident has taken delivery of 2 parcels containing mobile phones that had not been ordered.
The resident then had a phone call where the caller stated that the phones had been delivered to the wrong person, and would need to be collected by a courier.
As the packages were correctly named and addressed, the resident decided to call the phone company , whose details were on the parcel to establish what was going on. The phone company advised that this was a scam.
Scammers pick a name and address at random, and use stolen or cloned card details to place an order and arrange a delivery date and time.
After delivery, the home owner will get a phone call claiming the delivery was made in error so arrangements need to be made to collect the parcel.
The scammers then get away with a free contract mobile phone which may be on a very expensive tariff and some innocent unsuspecting householder will get the bill.
Trading Standards advise residents to be wary of accepting any goods they have not ordered. If anyone does receive such a parcel, ring the company who sent it out who will send a pre-paid envelope to return it - don't give back to someone claiming to be a courier who may call shortly after the delivery.
Trading Standards warning about inheritance scam letters - 6 August 2013
The Council's Trading Standards Service is warning people to be wary of inheritance scam letters which have once again been dropping through people's doors.
We have seen many different versions of the same letter but each tells an identical story. The latest is a letter claiming to be from 'The Desk of David Huang' from the Guangdong Bank in Hong Kong who explains that a client with the same name as the recipient has died leaving $10.5m which is unclaimed.
In a variation of the well-known Nigerian e-mail scams, the personally addressed letter 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 administrative fees or requesting details of your bank account that can then be used by the fraudster to steal from their account.
We have contacted Yahoo to get the advertised e-mail address in the letter closed so that nobody can reply to one of these letters if they were unfortunate enough to be taken in by the story.
Anyone who receives such a letter should not attempt to reply to the sender, but put it in the recycling bin where it belongs.
Beware bank card scam - 6 August 2013
Trading Standards are reminding residents to be extra vigilant following several reports of a scam that has been reported around the country involving a telephone caller who claims to be a Police Officer from the Metropolitan Police Force who tell victims that their bank details had been cloned.
The caller says they need confirmation of the victim's banking details and would call around to their home to collect the original bank cards.
The same or the following day a man posing as a police officer then attends to collect the bank cards which is then used fraudulently.
Trading Standards would urge residents not to give bank information to anyone who telephones their home; even if they say they are a police officer.
These offenders are very plausible and will even give telephone numbers to the victims to check their credentials but these numbers go to the fraudster.
Should you receive a call from anyone claiming to be a Police Officer we would urge people to contact their local force using 101 to verify the identity of any person telephoning your home and not to hand any bank cards over to anyone calling at your home. Alternatively you can always go into your local police station or bank in person and speak to a representative direct to verify what is happening.
If you think your cards have been compromised contact your Bank immediately.
Never give anyone your pin number or answers to your bank security questions as these will allow them to access your account.
Safety Alert - Recall: Debenhams Sleeping Beauty Electric Blanket - 31 July 2013
Coventry Trading Standards is highlighting the following information and recall notice issued by the manufacturer:
As a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our customers, it has come to our attention that the Sleeping Beauty Tie-On Under Blankets Models SB1001 and SB1002 may have an electrical fault, which may cause the cable to "short" out. We are recalling this product.
The recall applies only to two models with 9/11 and 8/12 marked on the label stitched to the blanket seam. Please see the example above. The model number SB1001 or SB1002 appears on the top of the label and the production date 09/11 or 08/12 appears on the bottom right of the label. The two models are:
- SB1001 Single Tie-on Under Blanket
- SB1002 Double Tie-on Under Blanket with a Single Control
These products have been available in Debenhams stores (and online at Debenhams.com) between October 2011 and June 2013. Customers who have purchased or received either of these products as gifts are asked to please stop using them immediately and return the item to any Debenhams store to be issued with a full refund.
For more information contact Sleeping Beauty customer services at: http://www.beaumarkinternational.com/ or write to them at: Beaumark International Ltd, 1 the Watercourse, Templeogue, Dublin 6W.
Please be assured that the safety of our customers, product safety and performances is always a primary concern. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Telephone cold calls - Insulation Grant sales advisors - 31 July 2013
Coventry Trading Standards have received a complaint regarding the Green Deal energy saving improvements scheme following a report of an unknown telephone caller gave misleading information. The caller claimed that a resident had been 'awarded' £300 in an energy saving grant for cavity wall insulation.
Grants in most cases have now been replaced by the Green Deal, and the Alderman's Green resident was aware that they would not qualify for grant work.
Launched at the end of January, Green Deal aims to encourage consumers to make their homes energy efficient by letting you pay for improvements to your home through your energy bills. Only authorised Green Deal businesses can offer this.
Other tactics that have been reported previously is making false claims that the caller is working for the local council, and the use of high pressure sales techniques which tries to intimidate more vulnerable consumers into agreeing to contracts for goods or services that they do not necessarily need or want. Callers may also wrongly claim that householders will be sued if they do not improve their home energy efficiency, or that they are breaking the law.
Avoid rogue traders offering energy efficiency home services by not dealing with unsolicited callers who contact you at the door, by telephone, e-mail or letter and seek advice from the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or visit www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures
Remember, genuine callers will be happy to make an appointment to call back and will carry identification with a photograph. This will allow you time to check out the company and identity thoroughly before any appointment.
Trading Standards urges people to be on their guard against this and other similar scams. Criminals target large numbers of people in the hope a few will be drawn in. If you receive this sort of letter or e-mail please contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice consumer service on: 08454 040506.
Cash point warning - 31 July 2013
Trading Standards have been made aware of an incident in the Ball Hill area of Coventry where a resident was approached by a young lady just after he had withdrawn money from a cashpoint. She had broken English, and was asking for money in order to use a phone. This was refused, and the young lady moved away.
Trading Standards offer the following advice when using a cashpoint:
- Be aware of others around you and stay alert to anyone acting suspiciously.
- Do not accept assistance from "well-meaning" strangers or allow yourself to be distracted.
- Shield the keypad to hide your PIN and watch out for 'Shoulder-Surfers' who stand behind you trying to look over your shoulder as you enter your PIN.
- If there is anything unusual with the cash point machine or there are signs of tampering, do not use it and move away. Report it to your bank or building society immediately and also contact the Police on 101.
- Always put you money and card away before leaving the cash machine.
We have also alerted the Police to this incident.
Watch out for unofficial music concert ticket websites - 19 July 2013
With the festival season underway, Coventry City Council's Trading Standards officers are advising people to use official ticket sellers to not get ripped off. People often search online for what they think is the best deal. However, research has shown that 46% of all fraudulent tickets were bought online and around 75% of all victims of ticket fraud initially made contact with the seller on the internet.
For more information on how to avoid being ripped off read our press release or visit the Safe Concerts website: http://www.safeconcerts.com/ where you can find information and advice on the warning signs to look out for.
The UK's first extended warranties price comparison website launched following action by the Office of Fair Trading - 19 July 2013
A new website: http://www.compareextendedwarranties.co.uk/ has been launched which will hopefully make it much easier to shop around and compare extended warranties for a wide range of domestic electrical goods. With providers on the site covering around 75 per cent of UK extended warranty sales, shoppers will have improved information on the choice of deals at their fingertips, helping them to find the best deal.
Argos and Dixons, two of the largest electrical retailers in the UK, are members of the site as part of legally enforceable undertakings agreed with the OFT, designed to address the competition problems identified in the market.
Domestic and General, Warranty Direct, Tesco and Richer Sounds - have also voluntarily signed up, giving consumers a wide variety of information to help them make an informed choice.
However, despite these new measures we would still urge shoppers to think carefully about the following before buying a warranty:
- If you do decide to buy a warranty, remember you don't have to buy one in store. Take time and shop around for the best deal using http://www.compareextendedwarranties.co.uk/
- If you do buy a warranty, you have cancellation rights if you change your mind.
- Some providers offer warranties where the price of the warranty is included in the price of the electrical goods.
- You have statutory rights if something goes wrong - see the OFT's short consumer advice video on your rights.
- Although warranties generally do offer additional rights, you may also be covered by your household insurance.
CharityGiving Website suspended by The Charity Commission - 19 July 2013
Trading Standards are highlighting the following information around the suspension of the website http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/ on 12 July by The Charity Commission.
The Charity Commission stated: 'The online giving website http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/ has today (12 July) been suspended. In order to protect funds the public has raised and prevent further charitable pledges being made via the website whilst the Charity Commission's investigation continues the decision has been taken to suspend the CharityGiving online portal with immediate effect. The action was taken by the charity's interim manager after careful consideration and consultation with the Charity Commission as part of the Commission's statutory inquiry into The Dove Trust. CharityGiving is an online fundraising portal run by The Dove Trust (registered charity number 287401).
Any funds donated on or after 12 July should be automatically directed back to the donor through the banking system, however, donors should check their bank accounts to ensure this has happened and if not, contact the Interim Manager.'
The full press release is available on The Charity Commission website.
Beggars - 19 July 2013
We have had a report of individuals knocking on doors in the Durbar Avenue area apparently begging for money. The callers are said to be well dressed, clean, wearing full make up & gold with brand prams. The callers claim they can't speak English but hold a piece of card to say they haven't eaten, have kids and are homeless.
Illegal Counterfeit Cigarettes found at a local shop - 19 July 2013
A Coventry shopkeeper has been fined £2925 including costs after pleading guilty to 8 offences of possession of illegal counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco at a hearing on the 14th June at Coventry Magistrates court.
Officers from Coventry Trading Standards inspected Mr. Lukmar Ali Karim's shop, the Babylon on King William Street , Hillfields on 4 occasions at the end of 2012. On each visit the officers found and seized illegal cigarettes and tobacco hidden in the till and other locations around the shop and on one occasion in the flat above the shop. A total 115 packets of cigarettes and 30 packets of hand rolling tobacco were seized during these inspections that were either counterfeit, non-duty paid or did not display the required health warnings in English.
The Magistrates fined Mr. Karim £1000 in total for the offences and ordered the full amount of £1875 in costs to be paid, together with £50 victim surcharge. The contraventions were against the Trade Marks Act 1994 and Consumer Protection Act 1987.
If you have spotted or believe a trader in Coventry is supplying fake goods or selling foreign labelled or duty free goods such as cigarettes, please use our online reporting form to let us know.
Bogus Faith Healers Warning - 11 July 2013
Trading Standards previously issued an alert on 14/06/13 about the dangers of engaging with faith healers and clairvoyants and as a result have received further reports from local residents following a leaflet drop in the Holyhead Road area of Coventry. We are therefore repeating our previous advice:
Some faith healers may claim to remove all your bad luck, heal illness, remove dark clouds from your life and make you a winner, but in reality, it is no more than a scam to take money from you.
Trading Standards are issuing a stern warning to watch out for such healers and clairvoyants who advertise their services in free newspapers and pamphlets.
The vulnerable are often targeted as are members of the ethnic minority communities who often, due to religious beliefs and embarrassment about how it would be viewed in their community do not report these crimes.
Trading Standards advice to consumers is not to throw their hard earned money or savings after bogus miracle cures that do not yield any results.
Anyone who believes they may have fallen victim, or has been in receipt of a leaflet through the door should report the matter to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506.
Beware of British Airways e-ticket malware - 11 July 2013
Coventry Trading Standards are warning local residents to be on their guard for bogus e mails from British Airways.
Fraudsters have cloned a real British Airways e-mail with an attachment containing the supposed ticket. Its content has been identified as malware.
The e-mail header has also been forged to make it appear as though they originated at BA.firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have recently booked a flight with British Airways you might be tempted to open the attachment. Our advice is do not open the attachment as you run the risk of your computer being infected. Instead delete the message.
Share purchase scam - 11 July 2013
Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard for unsolicited phone calls from someone offering to buy shares from you. The caller will be aware that you hold shares in a particular company and say they have a buyer wanting to acquire more than 51% ownership in order to take control of a business. They say they are based in New York, and the price offered will be substantially more than the shares are possibly worth.
Contact details of shareholders in companies can be obtained from the Shareholder Register which is a public document, which is where the scammers will have obtained their information from.
It may sound like a good business deal but they ask for your e-mail address so that they can send you a 'non-disclosure agreement' for confidentiality purposes. This is followed by a request for a fee so that the deal can go through. Once your money is sent, you will never see it or any money from the deal again. You may have also handed over personal information that may leave you open to identity theft.
Trading Standards advice is that if you get a call of this nature, do not engage with the caller and report it to The Financial Conduct Authority Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or use their share fraud reporting form.
Loft Insulation phone calls - 11 July 2013
Several residents have reported receiving telephone calls offering Loft Insulation where the caller claims that they are members of the Government endorsed TrustMark scheme. Our advice is to check out any such claims before agreeing to any visit from the caller and be wary of anyone who claims that they are orimply that they are working with government agencies or the Local Council. To contact the TrustMark telephone 01344 630 804.
For free and impartial advice on how to save energy, contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 orvisit their website: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/
Potential online rip offs! - 9 July 2013
Trading Standards are warning holiday makers about the cost of using unofficial sites offering government services.
Watch out for 'unofficial' websites if you want to renew your European Health Insurance card, order a passport, or book your driving theory test.
In most cases, the firms offering these services do state that they are not the official government agencies, but many people do not realise that until after using the service and end up paying a fee.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - This is free when booked through the official NHS website, but there are other web sites which charge for obtaining the card. The websites, which are often listed at the top of a search engine results page, typically charge a fee of up to £15 for processing applications that consumers can make themselves. Some sites even charge up to £20 for a 'fast track' application.
There are also many sites offering to help you complete your Passport application form - at a price wellabove the Passport office fee. Some sites will charge a premium of around £40 on top of the official cost ofa passport.
Booking your Driving Theory Test can also cause unexpected extra fees - The official theory test bookingfee through the Driving Standards Agency [DSA] site is £31 but there are many sites offering to help book your theory test but at a premium to the cost of booking it directly yourself - for example some sites charge anything up to £20 in addition to the DSA fee. By using the official site all you will pay is thestandard £31 fee.
These unofficial websites offer to do little more that you can do yourself.
Our advice - Use the official websites and avoid being charged for something you can do yourself for free.
- EHIC: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
- Passports: https://www.gov.uk/browse/abroad/passports
- Theory test: https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/learning-to-drive
- See our Press Release - http://www.coventry.gov.uk/news/200098/trading_standards
Rogue Traders in Upper Stoke! - 1 July 2013
Trading Standards have been made aware by the Upper Stoke Police Neighbourhood Team that over the weekend residents in the Wyken Green area have had leaflets and business cards pushed through their letterboxes from various traders offering services to householders such as gardening work to general building.
Initial reports suggest that these traders will charge very much more than the going rate, do a poor job and may use addresses that are just accommodation addresses where the trader has no physical presence.
Our advice and that of the Police is not to respond to these leaflets or any similar adverts unless you check the trader out thoroughly first and the trader gives a written quote including your written cancellation notice. Also do not hand over any money until you are completely satisfied with the job.
If you require any home improvements or gardening work we suggest using Age UK Coventry's Trusted Traders which is available to people of all ages living in the Coventry area and is provided in conjunction with Coventry Trading Standards.
For Trusted Traders, telephone: 024 7643 3982 or 024 7623 1999.