POLICE ISSUE COURIER SCAM WARNINGS
Officers from Bromley police are reissuing their warning regarding courier scams after five offences across the borough in the last few days.
The five victims, aged between 66 and 93, were targeted by fraudsters claiming to be from their bank or credit card company.
Detective Inspector Linda Leicester from Bromley police’s CID said: “These courier fraudsters put a huge amount of time and effort into being convincing because for them the pay-off is immense.
“We want people to question even truly genuine sounding calls and, most importantly, remember police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card, so you should never give these away. “They will also never ask for money or send a courier to collect a card.
“These fraudsters often ask victims to ring their bank or the police, however, the fraudster keeps the telephone line open so even though the person has called the number for their bank or the police, the call does not go through. Instead they are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.
“If you do receive such a call, hang the phone up immediately”.
The way the scam works:
Elderly/vulnerable members of the public have been receiving unsolicited telephone calls from fraudsters purporting to be from the police or their bank.
A fraudster will ring a member of the public, claiming to be from their bank (or in some cases claiming to be the police), stating that their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on their card or that their card is due to expire and needs to be replaced.
The person may be asked to ring the bank back using the phone number printed on the back of their bank card. This helps to convince the person that the call is genuine.
However, the fraudster has kept the telephone line open so even though the person has called the bank, the call does not go through. Instead they are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.
The fraudster then gains the person’s trust by pretending to be from the bank and seeming to offer assistance. In many cases the person is asked to provide their full bank card details and key in their PIN so that their existing card can be “cancelled” and their new one “activated” or “authorised.” The fraudster will then explain that the bank will need to collect the card.
The fraudster will then attend the person’s address or send an innocent courier company driver to collect the card and sometimes provide them with a “replacement” card which is subsequently found to be fake.
Therefore, the fraudster has obtained the person’s name, address, full bank details, the card itself and the PIN. The bank cards are then used fraudulently without the victim’s knowledge.
Fraudsters pretending to be from the police cold calling members of the public claiming to be from the Economic Crime Department and that the person’s bank account has been compromised by criminals.
The fraudster suggests that the person should transfer their bank balance into a “safe” police account.
Fraudsters pretending to be from the police attending people’s addresses and retrieving the person’s card and PIN.
Members of the public receiving letters on bank headed paper informing them that their account has been the subject of a fraud. The letter advises them to transfer their funds to a “safe” account and that an official will be in contact to provide them with a new card and PIN.
Fraudsters contacting members of the public requesting them to cut their cards in half because their account has been compromised. They are then asked to post the cut card to an address where fraudsters simply tape the card together again and can use the details to commit fraud.
If you receive such a call end it immediately.
Please be aware of the following:
Your bank will never attend your home
Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card
Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN
In an emergency dial 999. Please ensure that the line is clear and has a dialling tone before ringing.
QUICK-THINKING BANK CASHIER SAVES OAP THOUSANDS
The understanding built up between Croydon council’s trading standards team and bank branches across the borough was instrumental in preventing a pensioner losing thousands to a rogue trader.
The attempted scam came to light after an 80-year-old Thornton Heath man was cold-called at home and told that he could renew the guarantee to the exterior wall coating of his house. The coating had been applied between 10 and 15 years previously.
The cold caller offered to examine the condition of the coating and, in so doing, removed an area from the wall and told the householder that the damaged coating would need to be replaced, and that other maintenance should be carried out at the same time.
He quoted a price of £3,000 for the work, stating that payment would have to be in cash.
The resident, who has arthritis, agreed the price and had to pay £17 for a cab to the Norbury branch of Barclays Bank to withdraw the funds.
A vigilant cashier was concerned that he was withdrawing such a large amount of cash and asked the customer to what use the money would be put. When told, the cashier called the council’s trading standards department.
After speaking to the householder, attending officers ascertained that a scam was being worked and advised that the money not be withdrawn, saving the man £3,000 and the likelihood of, at best, shoddy workmanship to his home, or possibly no work being done at all and his money disappearing along with the promise of repairs.
The council’s trading standards department recommends that work should not be given to unsolicited cold callers. At least three estimates should be sought from reputable companies – none of which would demand cash payment – and, where possible, personal recommendations obtained from previous customers.
Reputable traders can be found via websites such as www.trustmark.org.uk orhttp://trustedtraders.which.co.uk The listed traders are vetted and approved by independent assessors.
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “Lots of hard work has been done by our trading standards officers in building up a relationship with local bank and building society branches.
“Cases like this underline the value of that work, and the cashier in this instance is to be commended for being alert to the possibility that an elderly customer was being swindled out of a sizable amount of his life savings.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
WINTER IS COMING – BEWARE THE BOILER SCAMS
Days are getting shorter and, before long, householders’ thoughts will be turning to their central heating system and its boiler, and making sure both are ready to face another long winter.
Many will be considering how best to protect themselves from unexpected and large bills in relation to central heating and boiler faults.
“Householders are not alone in thinking about their boilers” said a council spokesman.
“Recent weeks have seen the council’s trading standards team logging a significant increase in the number of enquiries regarding boiler-breakdown cover packages.
“There are concerns that many providers are not insured, not lawfully registered with the appropriate regulatory bodies, and may be using engineers who are neither qualified nor competent to safely carry out gas-related work.
“There is evidence of a growing number of firms being set up, often in temporary rented office locations, and calling residents offering boiler cover packages that claim to provide breakdown and repair services for a fixed annual fee.
“These are often sold on a sliding scale of service – for example, gold, silver or bronze – varying in price up to £200 or more. “Similar schemes have been reported offering the same sort of pay-now cover for domestic plumbing.
“While many legitimate businesses – often household names – provide such cover, it can be difficult to tell from a website or phone call just who you may be dealing with.
“Residents are advised to check out the business thoroughly, including how long it has traded, where it operates from and what insurance cover it has, should the business cease trading.
“Failure to do so could result in the disappearance of the money already spent, just when help is needed. “This will leave the victim having to spend more time and money finding a reputable business to repair pipes or heating systems.”
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “It’s very easy, especially if a fault develops, to panic and sign up for the first deal that’s offered.
“That could, though, turn out to be a costly mistake. “Take your time – before a problem arises – consider the options and ensure you’re dealing with a reputable trader.
“That way, if things do go wrong, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that they’ll be safely put right in a timely manner.”
(NOTE: Breakdown/repair packages are, in effect, insurance cover. Any business carrying out insurance-related activities, or those involving regulated consumer credit activities, must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Checks can be made at www.fca.org.uk/firms/systems-reporting/register/search
Anybody carrying out gas-related work must be registered with Gas Safe. Checks can be made atwww.gassaferegister.co.uk/help/check_a_business_or_engineer.aspx
Businesses processing your personal data (such as your name/address/telephone number) must comply with the Data Protection Act and be registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner. Checks can be made at http://ico.org.uk/what_we_cover/register_of_data_controllers
Companies House holds details of all limited companies registered in the UK. You can check when a company was started, with details of when (and if) it has ever filed any returns. Go tohttp://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo
Similar free searches on directors and companies are available on other websites.
Companies House does not vet or approve any company that is registered, and it should not be assumed that the fact that a company is a limited company offers any specific protection should things go wrong.) (Source: Croydon council press release)