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SCAMS - WARNINGS

Originating from Neighbourhood Watch Communities in the Stafford District 

These days there are many scams circulating, with more raising their ugly heads each day.  The best way to combat these is to be pre-warned of their existence and, it is with this in mind, that members of the Neighbourhood Watch Communities in the Stafford District have suggested publication on Hints and Things.

TIPS FROM COORDINATORS April 2010

  • Beware telephone and Broadband companies who cold-call at the door and try to get you to change your supplier. One such incident occurred in Codsall where female doorstep callers were reluctant to give the resident any written information about their offer and asked to enter the house to make an 0800 phone call to check that the resident was eligible before providing written information. The resident declined. In the past, some cold-callers that have been allowed in have used very hard-sell techniques.

Vivienne, Codsall

man with foot in the door
  • Be on your guard when answering the phone. There is a scam where a caller purports to be from something like the ‘Security & Fraud’ department with a credit card company and purports to be checking a purchase made on your card because it is suspected of being fraudulent. When you agree that you didn’t make the purchase, the caller states that they will be issuing you with a credit for the amount of the purchase … all they need is for you to give them the three digit security number on your credit card so they can verify it. This scam concludes with purchases being charged to your card by these criminals.

Lou, Stafford and Anthea, South Staffs

cross man on phone
  • Phone scams continue: a caller may try to solicit your bank details by claiming that you are owed a refund or try to get you to dial a premium rate number as part of the application process for a loan.

Dusty, Shropshire border

  • Credit cards and debit cards are at risk of theft by teams of criminals targeting shoppers who have used an ATM machine. One of the team will have been nearby and noted the number when the PIN was put into the machine. When the shopper returns to the car and puts shopping and handbag in the vehicle, a member of the criminal team approaches and distracts the shopper by asking directions while flourishing a map. During the distraction, an accomplice steals debit/credit cards from the handbag, but leaves everything else in place, so that the theft isn’t obvious, and the cards will be used at the nearby cash machines almost immediately. 

Be very cautious at ATM machines and don’t let anyone see your PIN number and when loading shopping into the car keep it locked while you return the shopping trolley and if anyone approaches you, make sure the car is locked before talking to them.

Andy, Rugeley

cash machine
  • Another telephone scam is from a caller purporting to be from a reputable and certified partner of Microsoft who has detected faults on your computer. After some preamble, the caller offers a five year warranty that the caller claims will keep the computer up to date. Only after a long conversation does the caller mention the charge for this supposed service. Always check out any company before accepting their services. A look on Google revealed the names of several companies operating similar scams.

Janet, Stafford

  • Inheritance scams are still circulating, targeting individuals and purporting that someone of the same last name has died abroad leaving millions of pounds unclaimed, and with no next of kin. The letter purports that as the recipient has the same last name, they could share in the funds if they are willing to follow instructions to complete the transaction. 

treasure chest The first step is to provide the letter writer with telephone or e-mail contact details so that the transaction can begin. Anyone who replies would then be asked for such things as personal and bank details and for a deposit of some monies (often hundreds of pounds) for processing fees, taxes or other reasons.

Allan, South Staffs

This is a general warning regarding two current telephone cold callers:

In the first, a home security and alarm company is telephoning residents and asking questions regarding their level of home security and whether they are members of Neighbourhood Watch - the caller goes on to offer a free consultation visit regarding the installation of a home security system. Although the installation is offered at a low price, further investigation reveals that monthly monitoring fees are exceptionally high. Advice is that anyone considering purchasing home security should get at least three quotes from reputable companies before making a decision.

The second cold caller is a scam offering to register residents with the Telephone Preferencing Service, to reduce unwanted cold caller telephone calls for a fee of almost 20. The caller asks for bank or credit card details. Please note that registering with the telephone Preferencing Service is FREE other than the cost of your phone call and can be done by calling 0845-070-070-7

 

TRADING STANDARD WARNINGS

Bogus Financial Requests

The Financial Services Authority is aware of a number of bogus communications claiming to be from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or the Financial Ombudsman (FOS) which ask the recipient for personal information or money. 

The bogus communications are often in the form of letters or e-mails and they sometimes use the name of a current of former employer. It is believed that the communications are likely to be linked to fraud and you are strongly advised not to respond to them.

If you are in doubt about the authenticity of any communications from he FSA please contact 0845-606-1234. 

For doubts about communications from the FOS please contact 0845-080-1800

Bank Charges Scam

Cold callers are offering to help householders reclaim bank charges on their behalf. They may claim to be from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and ask for personal and financial details. The OFT will never contact a householder direct to ask for such information. 

Bank Card Verification Scam

The scam e-mails purport to be from Interswitch Nigeria and that new security measures are being introduced. They ask you to register your debit card details along with contact details so that a verification code can be sent to you. There is a warning that if you don’t respond, your debit card will be terminated within 48 hours. Advice is not to open such e-mails but forward them to: spoof@millersmiles.co.uk or reportphishing@antiphishing.org

Fake Amazon e-mails

Beware e-mails purporting to be from the on-line retailer Amazon. They claim to be a confirmation for high value goods such as televisions being shipped to the recipient’s address. The attached .zip file appears to be a word document but in fact is malware that will compromise the security of the computer. Advice is not to open the attachments and to delete the e-mails immediately.

Unwanted telephone calls (UK)

Cut down on cold-calling telephone calls by registering with the telephone preference service (details on page 8). To stop silent calls from cold callers, ring the Silent Call Guard on 0844-372-2325. Registration is free and lasts for 12 months. Also beware of calls that ask you to press a number for further information as this could transfer you to a premium rate line which could cost 1.50 per minute.

Will Con

Letters have been sent out by an unregulated group of Will writers stating that a rule change means that some wills are invalid because each page isn’t numbered and signed. They con unsuspecting victims into paying for their wills to be re-written. The Probate Registry confirms there has been no such change and wills only need to be signed and witnessed on the back.

 

WARNING UPDATE

Trading Standards Officers have issued a renewed warning to computer users to be on their guard against unsolicited telephone calls from phoney computer support personnel.

In 2008 Officers issued a warning about the practices of a company known as supportonclick who were cold calling computer users and claiming to be representing Microsoft. Their tactic is to convince the user that something is wrong with their PC and purchase software that they do not actually need. 

The fraudsters use leading, generalised questioning techniques that often have the effect of convincing the user that their individual circumstances are known to the calling company. 

Callers often know the user's name, giving them greater plausibility. The Service has continued to receive complaints about the Indian-based company and are advising computer users to remain vigilant.

Officers advise that effective online security is crucial, and users should ensure that their PCs are running up-to-date anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software. However, good security need not be complicated or expensive - many security vendors provide free versions of their software for personal use.

Officers advise PC users to read up on online security via http://www.getsafeonline.org/. They also advise turning off any ‘auto-preview' features in their email software, and encourage all email users to observe their tips for avoiding email spam.

If you think you may have been contact by supportonclick, please report this to Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

It would appear that many different company names are now being utilised by these telephone scammers but all using a similar technique.


Further information about Staffordshire Neighbourhood Watch can be obtained by telephoning Staffordshire Police on 0300-123-44-55 or by visiting the OWL web-site at www.owl.co.uk
 

 

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