Trading Standards are warning consumers to beware of bogus ‘consumer helpline services’ claiming to be linked to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and charging £1.55/ minute plus access charges. As consumers seek advice for cancelled holidays due to COVID-19, scammers are attempting to take advantage! The CTSI does not run a consumer helpline. Consumer advice is available from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. Calls from mobiles and landlines are free.
Rogue Trader Guttering Warnings
Rogue traders are door knocking in the Nuneaton area offering ‘guttering cleaning and repair services’ Warwickshire Trading Standards is warning. Consumers are advised not to buy goods or services from unexpected doorstep callers. If in doubt, keep your door closed. Visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/doorstepsellers
Scam ‘Internet Fault’ Telephone Calls
During COVID-19 Internet connection has been more important than ever. However, Warwickshire residents have reported receiving phone calls from scammers claiming that there is a fault with their Internet and requesting access to their computer to ‘fix the problem’. Some callers have claimed that action is required or the householder’s Internet will be disconnected! These phone calls are being made so that scammers can gain access to resident’s computers in order to steal personal and financial information and to download computer viruses. Never allow anyone you don’t know and trust access to your computer. Do not reveal usernames or passwords. Scammers can mimic the telephone numbers of genuine Internet providers when they call. Put the phone down. If you believe a phone call was genuine, phone the company on the telephone number printed on your bill.
Phishing Emails and Bogus Automated Phone Call Scams
Beware of unexpected emails that falsely purport to come from Apple, British Gas and Netflix. These bogus emails often encourage recipients to click on a link in the email directing them to a bogus website from which personal and financial information, passwords and usernames can be stolen. The emails often threaten recipients with losing their services unless they act quickly.
Some residents have also reported receiving emails from people whose email address they recognised, asking them to purchase Apple or similar gift cards. The email recipients are asked to do this as a ‘favour’ and are told that they will be reimbursed. However, the email account of the sender has been hacked and used to send out bogus emails. Fraudsters often encourage people to buy gift cards as they only need to the number on the card to use it, they don’t need the card itself. When the cards are purchased the fraudsters trick the buyers in to revealing the card numbers.
Phishing scam advice: https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer/spam-and-scam-email/
Also be aware of an automated caller Chinese charity fraud. Automated phone calls state that your ‘credit card is on hold’ as £300 has been debited from your account and sent to a Chinese charity. Recipients are asked to press 1 to speak to a ‘security officer’. These types of scams are designed to get people to move their money into the fraudster’s bank account on the pretext that it is a ‘safe account’. More information: https://www.north-wales.police.uk/news-and-appeals/public-warned-over-safe-account-scams
Help for consumers
- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in partnership with the Internet Advertising Bureau has launched a new scam advertisement reporting tool. This allows internet users to report scam ads appearing in paid-for space online to the ASA. It will then send an alert to advertising platforms and publishers with details of the scam ad. Visit: https://www.asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint/report-an-online-scam-ad.html
- Trading Standards has an agreement with Citizens Advice to help you report a problem or obtain consumer or business advice. If you are a consumer or a business and wish to obtain advice, make a complaint or report a breach of Trading Standards law, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on, tel: 0808 223 1133 (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm)
- For more advice, visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards