Welcome to the fifth edition of the Derbyshire County Council Scams Awareness Bulletin
December 2017 - Edition 5 - Christmas Edition
This bulletin gives details of scams that council staff and our readers 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. Stay safe this Christmas.
This year’s National Consumer Week (NCW), which launched on 27 November (Cyber Monday) and will run through to the 3 December, is raising awareness of problematic subscriptions and subscription traps.
It’s not always easy to tell when you’re agreeing to a subscription. Sometimes they’re called something else - like a free trial, limited offer or sample.
That’s why as a Council we're supporting National Consumer Week 2017. The #BeforeYouSign campaign is all about knowing what you’re signing up for online, and when you can get your money back if you signed up to something you weren’t expecting.
Councillor Carol Hart, our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, said:
"Continued payment authorities can cause serious debt problems for consumers when left unmonitored, and we hope businesses will ensure their terms and conditions are clear and transparent.
"Our trading standards team is keen to help banks and financial institutions ensure their customers are protected from subscriptions issues."
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) have produced two short videos to help highlight subscription issues. One video gives practical advice for consumers and banks, and the other is aimed at businesses who offer subscription services to their customers.
To support the campaign Citizens Advice have put together useful information about subscriptions, giving advice about what to check before you sign up for anything. They also have general advice for consumers on their website.
There has been a recent increase in “safe account type” frauds.
In general a member of the public will receive a call from someone claiming to be a ‘police officer’ or a ‘fraud prevention officer’ within the their bank. The caller will appear to know details of the person’s banking records. They then advise that a fraud has taken place and the victim’s funds are in danger of being withdrawn by a fraudster. The customer is asked to go into the branch and make large transfers into a 'safe account' - which is actually an account set up by the fraudsters.
The public are advised to ignore these calls and report any such attempts to their actual bank, and also to Action Fraud.
Watch Out For the 12 Frauds of Christmas
Along with Derbyshire Scamwatch we're supporting The 12 frauds of Christmas campaign to protect residents across the county from falling victim to fraudsters during the festive period.
November, December and January (sales) are the busiest online shopping months of the year. They’re also the busiest time for online fraudsters.
Advice on how to avoid the 12 Frauds has been put together by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and City of London Police.
Get Safe Online have also produced a guide on how to avoid fraud while shopping online at Christmas and in the January sales. Follow their campaign on social media to get more top tips by searching and using the hashtag #XmasShopSafe
Last week a Derbyshire resident reported that they'd recently received a letter which claimed to be from a bank, stating that they were due a Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) refund. The letter appeared genuine, but clearly was an attempted fraud as it was sent to an address where the addressee had never lived.
This is a variation on other PPI scams – anyone receiving such a letter should report it direct to the bank whose name is being used fraudulently, rather than respond to the email or telephone number given in the scam letter. It is likely that the scammer will request copies of personal information (passports, driving licence, birth certificate) which will then be used for fraudulent purposes.
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:
Mr DE: 'My neighbour who lives in the Erewash area received a letter from the International Postcode Lottery Online. It had been sent from Melbourne, Australia. The letter explains that due to some complex mix up with numbers and names, my neighbour had unexpectedly won £900,000. It asked her to contact the head office in London to claim her prize and to 'make sure to let them know if any personal details had changed'. My neighbour had never entered any lotteries.'
Ms JB, P3 Charity: 'One of our clients from Chesterfield received a letter that she thought was from Nat West Bank. It stated that she was overdrawn and needed to ring a number so that she could organise to pay it. Fortunately she showed it to a member of staff who supported her to go to the bank to discuss it as she couldn’t understand why she was overdrawn. Bank staff confirmed it was a scam. Please let other people know so they can be aware'.
Mr VE: ''Today I received an email from a firm confirming an order they reckoned I placed for two CH radiators. The order was well written and laid out clearly, but was suspicious because it was missing two vital items – my address and the alleged suppliers address and/or phone number. The email named the firm supplying the radiators as a real trading firm based in Lancashire.
''It rambled on a bit about them being a new firm and, as they were experiencing teething problems with their e-mails, I might wish to fill out a claim form if I believed they had made a mistake with my order. Some minutes later, after I had read the first email, I received a second email from the same source containing a claim form. My Norton anti-virus security reported that it had dealt with a threat that this second email had contained.
''I went on-line to find out a bit more information about the firm. There is a firm with the same name in Lancashire with a seemingly genuine website offering various CH parts. I used their on-line comments form to advise them of the email that I’d received, telling them that it was an error as I’d not ordered any such items. I provided no more details than those in the original scam email I’d received.
''The firm subsequently responded with an apology, advising me that the email was, in fact, a scam. They advised me not to open any attachments or fill out any claim forms as the scammers were after my bank details. They said that they were reporting the matter to their local police. Please advise your readers to be aware''.
Example 1: A housing officer from Carelink reported that a telephone call was made to a Carelink client with the caller stating that they were from BT. They told the client that needed to disconnect her phone line for 6 months. Fortunately, the client's daughter was in the property and took over the call. As soon as the caller realised that it was someone younger that they were speaking to they hung up the phone.
Example 2: 'I received a call from someone claiming to be from CAB (citizens advice) informing me that they were ringing me to support with my ‘debts’. I told them I didn’t have any and if I did I would discuss it with the CAB worker that comes to my place of work, the phone disconnected.
I have spoken to a CAB worker who confirmed that CAB would never ring out of the blue unless I had requested it, (as I thought). The CAB is a name that people trust and they could easy pass over information to.''
Door Step Scams
Mr AB: ''This example didn't happen in Derbyshire but is certainly something to warn people about as it could happen anywhere. A elderly neighbour of my sister's was targeted by a door step caller. The elderly man had just returned to his home when he was approached by a man who said was a roofer and that a roof tile needed repairing on the elderly man's house. He offered to fix it for a 'good price'. Fortunately the man told him he wasn't interested and would get his son to have a look. It's a good job he did as it's likely the caller would have tried to charge him an exorbitant amount''. The Bristol Post recently reported a very similar scam that happened in the Hanham area.
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.
A Derbyshire resident recently received a call alleging that their boiler cover had come to an end (when they had no such cover) and that they could offer favourable rates for boiler servicing.
Such calls may look to sign up people to expensive new contracts or persuade them that grants are available for new boilers (when they may not exist). They may also then install a replacement boiler and associated pipework when the work is simply not necessary.
Trading Standards would advise the public to ignore such cold calls and contact a reputable tradesperson to carry out work if it is necessary. It is good to get a recommendation from a friend or relative, or alternatively look to use a reputable approved trader scheme. Derbyshire Trusted Trader has around 1300 traders on the register. You access Trusted Trader on our website or call tel: 01629 533190.
Derbyshire Constabulary have arranged a series of crime prevention events around the county in the run up to Christmas:
Christmas Crime Prevention and Safety Event - Darley Dale
Thursday 7 December, 10am until 2pm
Meadow View Care Centre, Bakewell Road, Darley Dale, Nr Matlock.
No booking required. Different organisations will be attending with information stands. Tea, coffee and buffet provided.
Ilkeston Crime Prevention Event
Thursday 7 December, 10am until 1pm
The Ilkeston Safer Neighbourhood Team are joining forces with Erewash Borough Council and Safer Homes to offer crime prevention advice to residents, shoppers and visitors to the town.
The team are setting up a stall in Ilkeston market place and will be available to offer free crime prevention advice and goodies.
Ashbourne & District Community Christmas Cracker Event
Friday 15 December, 10am until 4pm
Ashbourne Elim Pentecostal Church, Waterside Road, Ashbourne.
Guests will have the chance to pick up advice from a range of organisations about how to stay safe over the festive period. You'll also be treated to a special Christmas performance from a local primary school. Tea, coffee and buffer provided.
You can visit the Derbyshire Constabulary website for details of any other events and crime surgeries being held in your local area.
The Policy Network have published a report about financial fraud called 'It Could Be You'.
Netflix Scam - An email scam has been targeting Netflix subscribers, hoping to gather personal information and payment details from those who use the streaming service.
Doorstep Scam - An elderly man was defrauded out of thousands of pounds after opening his door to a man he believed was there to check the security on his computer.
Think Jessica founder, Derbyshire's Marilyn Baldwin OBE has spoken to the Express about scams and the impact they have on victims
Scam targeting jobseekers - Action Fraud has received intelligence which suggests that fraudsters are setting up fake job adverts online in order to lure in unsuspecting jobseekers. Action Fraud have put together some tips to help people who are looking for jobs to stay protected.
BT Local Numbers Scam - Several people across the country have reportedly been subject to bogus callers claiming to be from BT. The number in which the call came from appeared to be a local number however these numbers belonged to people who were not involved in the scam.
The Friends Against Scams campaign was launched last year by the National Trading Standards Scams Team and is supported by our Trading Standards team here at Derbyshire County Council.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the harm scams can cause to victims as well as encouraging people to report scams and be aware of the signs that a relative or friend could be falling victim to a con.
Our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart, and Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Jean Wharmby, were both keen to add their support to the campaign and have now signed up to become Friends Against Scams 'Scambassadors'.
You can show your support by signing up to be a Friend Against Scams by completing a short online training course about recognising scams. Alternatively you can attend a Friends Against Scams course in person.
TrueCall Units for people with dementia
People living with dementia are now able to apply for a trueCall Secure call blocker device via the Friends Against Scams website.
So far the units have blocked 99.5% of unwanted calls and 69% of people who have them are no longer worried about unwanted calls due to the unit protecting them from these calls. You can apply for a unit for yourself or for someone else.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 the amount of unsolicited mail sent to your home 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.
Advice for Professionals
If you're a professional working in Derbyshire, you can order copies of the A6 sized Pocket Guide to Scams for Derbyshire Professionals by emailing email@example.com
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a scams or scams, then there is support available.
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.
Help for people reluctant to believe they are being scammed
Some people are reluctant to accept that they are being scammed. If this is happening to someone you know, you can get in touch with Derbyshire Trading Standards who may be able to offer the person support and help to accept what is happening. You can email email@example.com or contact Call Derbyshire on tel: 01629 533190 and ask for a call back.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Thank you for supporting the Scams Bulletin in 2017. We'll be back in 2018 with more bulletins to keep you up-to-date with scams and frauds. Have a great Christmas, a wonderful New Year and stay safe.
If you wish to receive future editions of this bulletin and other Adult Care and Council newsletters, you can sign up by managing your subscriptions or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org