Welcome to the fourth edition of the Derbyshire County Council Scams Awareness Bulletin
October 2017 - Edition 4
This bulletin gives details of scams that council staff have been made aware of in recent weeks. Please feel free to share this bulletin far and wide - you can send it to colleagues, family members or friends as it is a public bulletin.
A Derbyshire resident has recently responded to an offer on the internet for a 14 day trial programme for their face cream. The lady believed that they ordered the cream on the trial basis, however the trader deducted £38 from her bank account.
These scams are commonly known as ‘subscription traps’. Customers are generally asked to enter their card details online to cover a small postage and packaging fee for a trial of face cream, slimming pills or other health related products. But many are also unwittingly agreeing to a recurring subscription if they do not cancel within the trial period – a detail usually buried in the small print.
People are advised to
- Read the small print (terms & conditions) carefully before entering into any agreement or making a purchase, however long this may take.
- Make sure the terms & conditions box has not been pre-ticked.
- If you make a purchase of this kind that gives you a limited timescale to cancel the agreement, make sure you do so before the due date if you want to cancel it.
- Never provide bank details to companies without doing some prior research beforehand.
- Keep a copy of any advertisement (print it or take a screenshot) that you reply to, and keep a note of the webpage.
- Remember that you will have more chance of cancelling agreements or obtaining a refund if the company is UK-based. Even those with UK addresses are often just fulfillment companies who are contracted to send out the goods. The companies themselves often have no physical presence in the UK.
- Check your bank/payment card statements regularly for unexpected payments.
If you are the victim of a subscription trap
- Make every effort to contact the company concerned to cancel the agreement.
- Contact your bank to cancel future payments.
- Ascertain with your bank whether a new card is needed.
- Request reimbursement from the supplier if the advertisement did not explain the charges, but be aware that without a copy, your claim may fail. If the website has changed in the meantime, try accessing your internet browser's cache or the internet archive.
- Refer a complaint about the bank to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
If the bank refuses to stop the charges or reimburse charges that have been made, consider referring the issue to the Financial Ombudsman
The Hate Crime Staying Safe Project produced a series of easy read factsheets to help people with a learning disability stay safe. Titles include
- Visitors to your home
- Protecting your home
- Internet safety
- Identity theft
- Safety when out and about
You can read the factsheets on the Derbyshire County Council website.
If you have a learning disability or support someone with a learning disability, you may wish to find out about the Safe Place scheme.
A number of suspected scam websites have been referred to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) over the suspicion they are being dressed up as legitimate investment websites. The rogue pension websites are carrying anti-scam messages to try to trick consumers into thinking they are legitimate.
Some scam websites imply they are regulated by carrying warning messages designed to prevent people falling victim to scams, such as making reference to the tax implications over accessing your pension before the age of 55 and the danger of cold-callers.
Do not be fooled - just because a website carries an anti-scam warning, does not mean it's genuine.
You can find out more on the FT Advisor website.
Facebook raffle scams
If you use Facebook you may regularly see posts claiming that people can win prizes if they pay and take part in raffles, but complaints about scam raffles are on the rise.
How raffle scams work
Anyone can set up a raffle group on Facebook and then begin inviting contacts to join. Facebook says it shuts down illegal raffle pages not licensed by the Gambling Commission as soon as they are reported.
The page owners then choose a prize, and sell tickets - asking people to pay using PayPal or a bank transfer. From then on, it works just like a normal raffle. A number is drawn at random and the winner earns a prize. At least that is how it should work....
But there are increasing numbers of people reporting that prizes aren't being drawn and they suspect they were never available in the first place.
Liz Hodgson, who runs a page dedicated to raising awareness about the scams, said: "There are many posts about people having issues with admins on these raffle groups. Organisers are not drawing them correctly; the [players] aren't receiving their prizes. Maggie Hughes, who has a disability and whose husband suffers from dementia, said she lost up to £50 from one such scam.”
Another person told the BBC she knew of a woman who took £400 of people’s cash without rewarding any prizes. Scams have included two free EasyJet flights for customers, which turned out to be fake, as well as “anniversary vouchers" for Lidl, Aldi, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose.
You can read more examples on the BBC website.
How to spot a fake page / competition
The fake Facebook pages are often designed to look like they belong to trusted companies or well-known people. They often use familiar logos and graphics.
Keep an eye out for bad grammar, offers with no terms or conditions and surveys, as no legitimate offers are likely to need you to fill out a questionnaire.
Also check to see if the page has the blue tick which confirms the account is verified by Facebook. If you think a page is a scam report it to Facebook and will investigate and shut the page down if they find the owner isn't registered with the Gambling Commission.
Scams you've told us about
In previous editions of the Scams Bulletin we asked you to send in details of any scams you've experienced recently. Here's what you told us:
A vulnerable 81 year old in the Derbyshire Dales area opened her door to a man who said he was from Age UK. He told her he was called Wally and was from the North Derbyshire area. She invited him in and after talking for some time he approached her from behind, placed his arms around her and said ‘come along its time to get you back to bed'. At this point the lady hit out at him and he ran off. The Police and Age UK were made aware.
Example 1. I had an email purporting to be from PayPal saying that my account had been debited with a large sum of money but I could get it back by following a link. This much I gathered from just the subject heading. I did not open the email. The email address behind the PayPal name was: trnrscn @ caymanmacstore.ky
Example 2. I received an email today informing me that “Your online Natwest Credit Card Statement is ready online.......” It goes on later to say “Look out for any special offers on the online PDF version.........such offers may have a limited time period etc.. etc..”, suggesting strongly that it would be prudent to get these ‘offers’ right away. (An online version of the old: “Buy now while stocks last”). Apart from the fact that I’m not even a NatWest customer, I would never touch anything like this with a barge pole. I could see though how easily it could be for some unsuspecting existing customers to be taken in by this, it did look authentic quoting various “Registration numbers” authorised by the FCA and “signed off” by a “Paul Riley, Head of Credit Cards”. It’s not the first time I’ve had similar messages supposedly coming from the NatWest and the scammers must know that a significant % of the population will be banking with the NatWest and therefore potential ‘hits’.
Example 1. I just wanted to warn other residents about a telephone scam I was subjected to last week. I am in the process of switching energy suppliers from British Gas. Last week I had a call from telephone number 0800 1077473 claiming to be from British Gas retention department. The man asked me to confirm the second part of my postcode. He knew I was in the process of switching, how much my monthly usage of both gas and electricity was and how much my monthly direct debit was. He said he could move me to a cheaper tariff, which was not published on their website, but refused to give me any details in writing by email. He said the tariff could only be offered and accepted by phone. He was rude, patronising and very pushy. I refused to talk to him and put the phone down. I then rang the number back which has a message purporting to be from British Gas, saying that I should not worry and that they had simply been making a courtesy call.
I rang and emailed British Gas to register a complaint and was told that although the number did appear to be theirs, they do not have unpublished tariffs available and they believed the call was a scam. I suggested that they should take action as their records had obviously been hacked, as the caller had so many of my account details.
I just wanted to warn fellow residents. Had I been vulnerable, the caller would have felt very threatening and I may have felt pressured into agreeing to his alleged tariff and revealing banking details.
Have you heard about a phone, postal, email or doorstep scam that's been happening locally? Or maybe you've come across an online scam or a copycat website.
Let us know so we can share the scam in the next Scam Bulletin to warn others.
This bulletin will be sent out periodically based on demand. We can't guarantee to publish all the information you send in, but we'll try and make sure to get the message across.
The impact of financial scams cannot be measured by monetary loss alone; in some cases, particularly when the victims are older and vulnerable people, they can cause permanent damage to a person’s quality of life.
Due to the Care Act 2014, local authorities and social workers now have an important role to play in protecting people from this form of financial abuse, which includes doorstep crime and internet, postal and telephone scams.
In many counties, including Derbyshire, social care departments are working with Trading Standards and other local agencies such as the police and the voluntary sector to develop a multi-agency approach. You can find out more about this type of work on the Community Care website
If you believe someone vulnerable is being financially abused, by a stranger or someone known to them, Please contact Call Derbyshire on 01629 533190.
Other national and local scam news
1. New research by tech company MISCO has revealed that one in four UK adults have been scammed online in the past. Read the report here.
2. Some criminals try to make their scams successful by posing as well-known companies. On its website, Google identifies scams that use its name. Find out more
3. Diane and Nadia launched Friends Against Scams at NatWest's Stratford branch in 2016. Since then FAS has helped them to protect all customers, young and old, from scams. Find out more
4. One of the latest phishing scams on Amazon promises $50 for writing a review. Find out more
5. Prospective tenants were scammed out of £1200 after a fake landlord used Facebook to copy and paste property details and pictures from a rental listing on Rightmove. Find out more.
Reporting scams and getting advice
Get advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Service, tel: 03454 04 05 06 or visit: www.adviceguide.org.uk
Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud or tel: 0300 123 2040.
Send potential postal scams with a covering letter to Royal Mail at FREEPOST Scam Mail, email: email@example.com or tel: 03456 113 413.
Report unsolicited marketing calls to the Information Commissioner's Office or tel: 0303 123 1113.
Register phone numbers with the Telephone Preference Service or tel: 0845 070 0707.
The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is free and can help reduce unsolicited mail by calling 0845 703 4599.
Contact the Age UK Derby and Derbyshire Information and Advice Line on tel: 01773 768240. Age UK also have a downloadable guide on recognising and dealing with all kinds of scams.
Derbyshire Scamwatch is a project funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire. The aim is to raise awareness, particularly amongst older residents, of the potential harmful effects of mass-marketing, internet, doorstep and telephone scams and to provide one to one advice and support where potential scam/fraud victims are identified.
Tell a trusted friend, relative or neighbour.
Age UK Derby and Derbyshire can provide help and support for older people and their carers if they've been affected by a scam or rogue trader. Local residents can call the helpline on tel: 01773 768240. Age UK also have regular information roadshows at events around the county.
Think Jessica is a Derbyshire-based charity set up to help and support people affected by scammers and also to highlight the effects on victims.
Derbyshire Victim Services offers free and confidential help to victims of crime and anyone else affected. Please tel: 0800 612 6505
The Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network aims to help isolated and vulnerable adults find befriending services. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01283 219761.
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