This page should alert you to changes in important services, changes in legislation and new scams.
New scam warning from North Yorkshire police
Number Spoofing alert
You are at home and receive a phone call on your landline or mobile. The caller display on your phone shows a number which purports to be the bank. The number displayed is the same number on your bank statement or bank card. You are therefore satisfied that it is the bank calling you, or is it?
Number spoofing is a method by which fraudsters using easily accessible software can make any number they dial from appear on the recipient’s phone as any number they chose. This could be your bank, building society or even the police. This will then convince the intended victim that they are indeed speaking to their bank when in fact they are talking to fraudsters. North Yorkshire Police has seen a rise in this type of fraud.
Read more about this and the simple steps you can take to protect yourself at https://northyorkshire.
COVID-19 NHS Test and Trace scam warning
If NHS Test and Trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number 0300 0135 000. The only website the service will ask you to visit is https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.
Contact tracers will never:
- Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
- Ask you to make any form of payment
- Ask for any details about your bank account
- Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
- Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
- Ask you to purchase a product
- Ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet
- Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS
Courier Fraud Alert
A courier fraud is when a victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the police or their bank’s fraud team. They usually tell the victim they are investigating the bank due allegations of theft from customers. They then instruct the victim to withdraw money and hand it over to a courier to be used in evidence against the bank.
Three separate incidents involving this method recently occurred in Harrogate, totalling over £50,000.
Warning about another coronavirus scam
The public is being warned to be on the look-out for this latest text scam claiming that their movements have been tracked and they are being fined for breaching the safety guidelines for coronavirus. The advice is to delete the text and to make sure that no links in the message are opened.
The limit for contactless card payment is rising
From April 1st the limit for contactless card payments will rise from £30 to £45. This action has been taken partly to reduce the number of cash transactions but also to assist in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Further update from North Yorkshire Police …..
- Messages claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax refund due to changes in the law around Covid-19, recipients have to click a link which takes them to a fraudulent website
- Messages claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control or from the World Health Organisation. These messages offer the recipient the chance to view a list of confirmed cases within their local area by clicking on a link and making a Bitcoin payment.
- Emails claiming to be from a virologist sending an attached document with instructions on how to avoid the Coronavirus. The attachment is malicious.
- Fraudulent online sales of masks and hand sanitiser which never materialise. If an online shopping offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
Please do not click on links or open attachments and take time to check that the email is from a legitimate source. Please be aware that fraudsters go to great lengths to make their communications with you look genuine.
As Covid-19 continues to spread, fraudsters are likely to continue using the anxiety it generates to trick people out of their personal data and hard -earned money. You can find more information about the scams listed above online. The BBC have summarised these scams in this article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51838468
More than ever, as a community you need to be aware of those in your locality who are elderly, live alone and who are vulnerable. Please look after and support each other’.
North Yorkshire Police warning about Corona virus scams
North Yorkshire Police are warning the public about various scams which are being perpetrated in relation to the Corona virus. ‘Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800k. Ten of these reports were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. Reporting numbers are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.
Fraudsters are also sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails in an attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.
Some of the other tactics we’ve identified from victim reports:
• Fraudsters purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) contact potential victims over email. They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin’.
Following a sudden surge in scam calls regarding HMRC unpaid fines, North Yorkshire Police have issued an urgent warning to the public to be on the alert. For further details, please follow this link.
The Consumer Association (Which?) is advising people to be on the alert for scams, as criminals prey on consumers’ uncertainty about their rights post-Brexit. Remember legitimate organisations will not telephone you and ask you to move your money. If you’re not sure what to do, contact the organisation on an official line and check the information you have been given.
New BT Brexit scam
At a time when information about Brexit is proliferating, scammers are taking advantage of this to try to obtain personal information. The e-mail supposedly from BT warns about the need to accept new terms and conditions with reference to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Consumer Association (Which?) warns that clicking on the link will take you to a fake website where you’ll be instructed to enter sensitive information, almost certainly including your payment details.
Free Fire Safety Check
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service offers free fire safety advice in your own home. This visit involves fire service staff coming to your home to give you advice on fire safety in the home, actions you can take to reduce the risk of fire, and discuss escape routes should fire occur.
To book a home fire safety risk visit fill in the form by clicking here or by calling the Fire Safety Advice Line on 01609 788545.
British Gas refund scam
From North Yorkshire Police : ‘Please warn people about this email scam supposedly from British Gas to encourage people to claim back money they say they owe you. It looks genuine. It isn’t. We don’t have gas! Be Careful!’
What is impersonation fraud?
A really useful explanation from North Yorkshire Police about how impersonation fraud works. Make sure you don’t get caught out. https://youtube.com/watch?v=fy-RSQfwLDw…
Lonely people can become victims of online dating fraud, as BBC has shown on TV all this week. For anyone who is concerned about this type of fraud, here is a really useful video from the Metropolitan Police.
Amazon Prime Scam Alert
North Yorkshire Police are warning residents about the latest scam which has been reported.
‘Criminals are targeting members of the public with automated calls stating that the recipient has been charged for an Amazon Prime subscription. The callers use this lure as a way to gain access to the recipient’s online banking account.
How does it work?
1. The victim receives an automated call stating that they’ve been charged for an Amazon Prime subscription. They’re asked to press 1 to cancel the charge, this connects them directly to the fraudster.
2. A fraudster, posing as an Amazon customer service representative, then tells the victim that the Prime subscription was purchased fraudulently and that they need remote access to the victim’s computer in order to fix a security flaw that will prevent it from happening again.
3. The victim is asked to download an application called Team Viewer, which grants the fraudster remote access to the victim’s computer.
4. The victim is then asked to log onto their online banking account whilst the criminals are able to monitor everything via Team Viewer’.
Warning about a current Santander scam on social media
This scam message is currently appearing on social media.
Watch out for mandate fraud
Message from North Yorkshire Police
North Yorkshire Police have noticed an increase in the type of fraud whereby a resident or business will receive an email purporting from a supplier, for example utility company, solicitor, builder etc informing the resident/business that the supplier’s account details have changed and all further payments need to be paid into the new account. It is the case where the suppliers email account has been compromised and the new account details are that of the criminal. The email address of the ‘supplier’ may be very similar to the original and the changes are subtle. The best protection against this type of fraud if you receive such a request is to contact the supplier to see if the request has originated from them. Treat this type of email/letter with extreme caution.
North Yorkshire Community Messaging (NYCM) is managed by North Yorkshire Police. The official website is www.nycm.co.uk which will allow you to sign into your account to change your delivery method preference or locations of interest. It also contains a FAQs section, which may assist with any queries you have.
International Postcode Lottery scam
The Consumer Association (Which?) and Cleveland Police are warning about a new scam. People have been receiving letters advising them that they have won large sums of money in a lottery run by the International Postcode Lottery Commission. One recipient reported that the letter was correctly addressed and contained logos for the 2018 Fifa World Cup and Tokyo 2020 Olympics – two events the commission claimed to promote. For further details and a picture of the letter, please follow this link.
Over 75s to pay for their television licences
The BBC has announced that it will not be funding free TV licences for all the over 75s. To be able to fund all the free licences, it would have to severely reduce the services which the BBC provides and this was considered to be unacceptable. The BBC has therefore decided to fund free TV licences for those people over 75, who receive pension credit. The corporation suggests that this is the fairest way to support the most financially challenged. To read more, follow this link.
Warning about Brexit Scams ….. of which there are many!
1. Bogus Brexit investments
Brexit is a good opportunity for fraudsters to con investors into parting with their money. They may use e-mails or telephone calls to suggest that an investor amends their investments to minimise the risk during Brexit or to make the most of any opportunity to enhance their savings. The Counsumer Association (Which?) has reported claims for a ‘Brexit severance cheque’ as an example.
At this stage, no-one really knows what the full impact of Brexit will be. Do not respond to cold callers and never give your personal bank details in phone calls or emails. Contact your financial service using an official number on its letter heading or website to check that any information received is genuine – do not use links in e-mails.
2. HMRC Brexit scam
This scam is aimed at companies which trade with the EU and which have been told by the Government they need to register for a ‘UK trader number’. Fraudsters with fake websites which appear to be HM Revenue & Customs are targeting businesses.
3. Ehic (European Health Insurance Card) scams
The Ehic gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. Depending on how the UK exits the EU, the Ehic card could no longer apply to UK travellers holidaying in these countries. Scammers could use the confusion around this to lure UK travellers into thinking they can still get an Ehic if they pay a fee for it. If you’re looking to get an Ehic card before you travel this year, visit the official government website or the official NHS website to check if you can still get one and, if you can, to make sure you get one free of charge.
4. Financial services scams
Brexit could seriously affect financial transactions to and from Europe. Because UK financial service regulation is closely linked to EU directives, the UK might experience difficulty accessing the European payments infrastructure. This could result in delayed money transfers for purchases of goods, services and salaries etc. Financial services are obliged to contact customers to advise them about any changes. However, during this disruption, scammers might contact individuals pretending to be from their financial service provider. So, be wary!
Contact your financial service provider using the official contact information on its website, and ask your adviser to verify that the message you received is genuine.
Great news for the victims of bank transfer scams
In May, a new code will be launched, which will reimburse people who become victims of bank transfer scams, through no fault of their own. The code is voluntary, but several banks have already signed up.
What is the future for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
Should travellers planning holidays renew their EHIC? Do they need travel insurance? Brexit will affect some traveller’s plans. It is important that individuals check on their rights and responsibilities. For further information follow these links: Wakefield Express and iNews
Warning! Saga Platinum card to end
In May 2018, Saga terminated its partnership with Allied Irish Bank (AIB) and stated that it would be taking its credit card off the market. This month it has announced that the card would end on March 28th 2019 and that all accounts must be paid in full. So, customers have two months in which to settle their account and find a new credit card provider to which they can transfer their outstanding balance. Follow this link for further details or go to the Which? website. For further information about managing debt, please contact: The National Debtline Step Change debtline or Citizens Advice
An end to mobile phone scams?
This year, four of the largest mobile phone providers (EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three) will launch a new system, which blocks scammers who attempt to send text messages, which appear to come from your bank. The Consumer Association Which? reports that ’for years, fraudsters have been spoofing bank phone numbers and scaring people with threatening text messages to call them back’. The new system will stop the spoofing of phone numbers and will help to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent text messages.
In the meantime, you can report scam and spam texts directly to your mobile phone provider by forwarding it to 7726, which is free of charge.
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/12/phone-companies-to-end-bank-text-scams/ – Which?
Beware this latest scam about TV licences ….. https://bit.ly/2TrlIwT Thousands have reported this to the TV Licensing authority. Please heed their advice https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/faqs/FAQ288 Stay alert. Don’t get caught!
The current free TV licence for those over 75yrs is due to end shortly.The BBC is seeking your views on what happens next. Will it be abolished? Read about the BBC’s proposals and have your say https://bbcconsultation.traverse.org.uk or tel: 0800 232 1382 for a paper version.
The consultation ends on February 12th 2019
1400 targeted by TV licensing scam e-mails
Be aware! Consumer Association Which? is warning that more than 1,400 people have been targeted by the latest TV Licensing refund scam emails. The e-mails take various forms, but mainly involve the use of a convincing facsimie of the TV Licensing Authority logos etc. The e-mail offers a refund for over payment or a billing error. For further details on how to spot these e-mails and what to do if you have been scammed, go to https://bit.ly/2q2Jnaz
Keyless car theft on the rise
Since 2014 there has been a 30% rise in the theft of keyless cars. Some insurance companies will not cover this, as there is no evidence of a break-in. Basically, thieves can hack the signal from your key and use it to open your car door and drive away. So what preventative measures can you take? The following are all ways in which you can help minimise the risk of theft, such as:
- storing keys with care (not on a windowsill or near front door where the signal could be hacked)
- using a signal blocking bag, Faraday bag, or metal box to store keys
- checking with the manufacturer if you can turn off or disable your key
- using a steering wheel lock to deter burglars.
In the event of a theft, you should contact the Police on 101 and then report it to your insurance company. For further information, please follow this link to an article in Saga magazine.
Give cyclists a wide berth or you could be fined
Driving too close to a cyclist when overtaking could now cost you £100 and three penalty points under new laws introduced this year. According to the new law to protect cyclists, the driver needs to leave a minimum distance from a cyclist when overtaking or travelling alongside the bike or they could receive a fine. This would be £100 and three points on the licence for being too close to a bike on the road. Rule 163 also adds that drivers should leave ‘as much room as when overtaking a car’ when they overtake a motorcyclist, cyclist or even a horse rider. For further details, please follow this link.
WARNING! The Food Standards Agency warns of bacteria found in frozen vegetable products – lots of products recalled. Complete list here: https://bit.ly/2N5Tuoe If you have purchased any of these items, you are advised DO NOT EAT them.
10 Top scams targetting older people
There is a warning issued via StrayFM about scams which particularly target older people. Make sure that you are aware of the latest threats. Follow this link for further details.
Latest advice about scams from North Yorkshire Police
North Yorkshire Police have issued new warnings about the latest scams in our county. To find out more, please click on the following link: NY police advice about scams
Are you aware of these scams?
The Consumer Association (Which?) has issued a warning about some major scams for 2018. These include malicious software on mobile phones and social media spying, among others. For further details, please follow this link.
April 1st signals lots of price rises – act now to avoid them
- NHs dental fees
- Television licence
- Postage stamps
- Council tax
- Passport renewal fees
- Water bills
If you act now, you may be able to avoid some of the increases. For further information, please follow this link.
‘Freeze on Fraud’
‘North Yorkshire Police, are today launching their Freeze on Fraud campaign to raise awareness of online fraud and help reduce the risk of people falling victim to this ever increasing type of crime. Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing a series of short videos about fraud, featuring top tips from DI Hodgeon, Head of Fraud at NYP, and also some real life victim stories.
You can watch these videos and read a host of information on our dedicated webpage https://northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/safer-online/freeze-on-fraud/
Please visit the webpage and spread the word – it is really important that you are aware of the different threats posed by fraudsters and understand the preventative steps you can take to prevent falling victim. The campaign will feature on our social media platforms throughout January and also on ATMs across the county’.
If there’s a power cut, who do you call?
Unless you very organised, when there’s a power cut, there’s a mild panic whilst trying to find a torch or source of light. Then you think, what’s the electricity company’s number? Where can I find it?
Well, help is at hand, if you experience a power cut just CALL 105 which is the emergency service information line. The call is free and you will be transferred to an operator who can offer help and advice. For further information, follow this link.
Netflix scam warning
Subscribers to Netflix are being warned about a scam involving renewal of their subscription. So far over 110 milliion people have received the e-mail, which includes a link to a very convincing fake Netflix site. To find out more, follow this link.
Harrogate police warn of a spate of burglaries
Local residents are being warned about a spate of burglaries which occurred on Friday 16th June resulting in the theft of thousands of pounds worth of possessions and vehicles . They are urging people to ensure that they keep valuables out of sight and ensure that they review their home security. Opportunistic burglars often strike while residents are in the garden having failed to secure their property.
Be careful about who you ‘like’!
Kapersky have issued a warning about posts on social media offering free airline tickets. The link in the post leads to a website asking people to complete a simple survey and then to share the link on a social network and then click the ‘like’ button. But, what happened next ….. click here to find out!
Mobile roaming charges abolished ….. well sort of
Good news for people holidaying in Europe – mobile roaming changes have been abolished. However, there are some conditions attached. To find out more, follow this link. Also, bear in mind that Brexit may well affect the situation in due course.
Global cyber attack – Could you be affected?
The current global cyber attack is hitting all the headlines at the moment. Over 200,000 organisations have been affect worldwide. But, what about individuals? Are they likely to be affected? Generally speaking, this is unlikely. However, news of such an attack provides a great opportunity for scammers. The fear of being a victim of malware (a programme designed to ‘disrupt, damage, or gain authorized access to a computer system’) and having all their files held for ransom, will be enough to provide vulnerable ‘prey’ for scammers.
Imagine the relief you might feel if you receive an e-mail or ‘phone call offering you protection against malware/ransomeware. All you have to do is ‘click on the link to download protective software’ or follow the advice of the caller (who may persuade you to allow them to take control of your laptop/tablet in order to install the software). Don’t! It’s a scam. Protect yourself by ensuring your antivirus software is up-to-date, all operating system updates are installed and all your files are backed up. After all, if you have a copy of all your files, why would you pay a ransom for them?
Do you know how much a ‘Directory Enquiries’ call costs?
More than you think, probably. There are nearly 420 companies providing a directory enquiries service, so it is obviously a lucrative business. Prices vary enormously: typically ranging from £5-10 per call. BT’s 118 500 is reported as charging £5.61 for one enquiry, while 118 118 has recently increased its charge to £8.98. However, customers have reported charges of more than £30. This is the result of accepting the operator’s offer to connect the call, which can give rise to a charge of more than £3 per minute by some providers.
The cheapest way to search for a telephone number is to use an on-line service, if possible. However, if that is not an option, there is a cost-effective service – BT’s 118 707 which provides a ‘no frills’ service for a fixed fee. As a result of customer’s concerns, OFCOM is to investigate the cost of Directory Enquiry services charges.
Over 64? This is your last chance to boost your pension. Act now!
If you are over 64, you have until April 5th 2017 to see if you can boost your pension. This could be worth thousands of pounds in the future. So act now! To find out more, please follow this link to the Money Saving Expert’s website. Or, click here to check if you’re eligible or if it’s right for you.
On a state pension? Are you donating up to £35 to the Government every week?
If your sole income is the state pension, you could be entitled to a pension credit. The state pension for a single person is currently £119.30 which is below the £155 minimum income set by the Government. This means that some people could be entitled to up to £35 in pension credit. Couples can claim and if you’re a carer you could claim more. To check out if you’re eligible, follow this link. You can also use the calculator to find out how much you could be owed.
HMRC has just issued this warning about a scam
It’s that time of year again ….. end of the financial year and lots of people are worrying about their taxes. The Consumer Association (Which?) has advised that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is warning of a scam e-mail advising people that they are eligible for a tax refund. There have been similar scams before, but there is a concern that the urgency for action, expressed in the e-mail, is causing people to act hastily. Click here for further information. Or, click here to check if you’re eligible.
It’s time to find any old fivers you may have
Don’t be distracted by all the attention the new £1 coin is receiving. It’s time to check your pockets, wallets, savings jars and down the back of the sofa, not only for old £1 coins, but also £5 notes. On May 5th the old £5 note will be taken out of circulation. Indications are that banks and building societies will accept the notes after that date, but many are only providing this service for their own customers. The old notes will retain their face value, but exchanging them could be a hassle and might involve returning them to the Bank of England, in London. (Good excuse for a day out in London?)
Motorists: some surprising facts about fines
Have you felt aggrieved by an unexpected driving fine? There are some surprising offences which land you with a fine. To find out how easy it is to incur a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), follow this link.
You can also find out about penalty points and how to avoid them.
FSCS provides more protection for your money
The Financial Savings Compensation Scheme has increased its limit for protection from January 30th 2017. The previous compensation limit for people with money in banks, building societies and credit unions was £75,000. This has now been increased by £10,000 to £85,000 per person per institution. It is important to check that you do not have more than £85,000 in any one institution. To check who owns whom in the banking industry, try this link or go to a savings comparison website.
Have you received an offer to win a Sainsbury’s Gift Card?
The Consumer Association (Which?) is warning WhatsApp users of a scam which offers the opportunity to win a Sainsbury’s £250 Gift Card. In the message, there is a link inviting you to participate in a survey and then send the link to 10 friends, in exchange for the voucher. This results in spreading the scam very rapidly.
This is just one of several ‘win a voucher/ gift card’ scams which use well-known high street companies’ logos. Clicking on the sender’s address will reveal if the sender is genuine or not, but ….. read the address very carefully, as the details may be very similar to the genuine company’s address. For further advice and information about scams, visit the Which? website.
Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits and allowances to which you are entitled
To make sure that you are not missing out, you could come to our next Forum meeting on January 26th – details on our Forum Events page. Alternatively, visit our ‘Topical News’ page and read the articles there.
New scams are pushing up the price of car insurance
There is concern that a spate of new scams is causing insurance companies to raise their prices for car insurance and older drivers are said to be experiencing the steepest increases. To find out more, follow this link.
Are you aware of the proposed new Benefit and Pension Rates from April 2017?
The proposed benefit and pension rates to be introduced from Monday, 10 April 2017 can be found here. Most personal allowances for working age benefits – JSA, ESA and IS – are frozen as previously announced, but premiums and other benefits, such as disability benefits, are increased by 1%. State Pension is increased by 2.5% due to the triple lock agreement.
TalkTalk and Post Office broadband customers hit by cyber attack
There are reports that broadband 360,000customers of TalkTalk and 100,000 of the Post Office have been hit by a cyber attack, which has left them with no internet connection. A spokesperson for the Post Office has stated that no personal data or devices have been affected. For further details, follow this link.
Ransomware is on the increase – learn how to beat it
Ransomware is a very virulent form of malware (malicious software) which locks your computer and encrypts your files so that you can’t use them. Effects can vary, but generally involve programmes not working and denying access to your files. Once your device has been infected, you will be asked for payment (a ransom) to regain access to your files. To find out about ransomware: what it is, how to identify it and how to protect your device, click here.
Family tree hazard
The Consumer Association (Which?) is warning people about a scam involving on-line genealogy. Fake e-mails are leading to copycat websites for Ancestry.co.uk. and offering the opportunity to view the life story of a named relative are circulating. This is a scam and anyone receiving a fake e-mail should report it to Action Fraud.
Watch out! Don’t get frosted.
On these cold frosty mornings it’s tempting to go back in the house, while you leave the engine running to defrost car. Beware! There are thieves about and your car could be an irresistible temptation. The theft alone could be devastating, but how would you feel if your insurance company would not pay compensation because you had left the keys in the ignition? Find out more.
Scams, scams and more scams ….. a comprehensive guide
The Metropolitan Police Service has produced its latest edition of ‘The Little Book of BIG Scams’. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the myriad of scams and phishing techniques which are used by criminals. It also emphasises the importance of reporting scams and provides a list of the appropriate authorities which can be contacted. Use this link to access an audio of version of the book.
Don’t ignore parking tickets
Don’t ignore parking tickets. Some people have suggested that it’s worth ignoring them because many organisations won’t be willing to bother to take legal action, because of the cost. However, the courts are likely to take a dim view of those who ignore parking fines.
The Money Saving Expert provides a very good guide on how to avoid incurring a parking fine as well as what to do when you receive one. Called the ‘Glovebox Parking Guide’ it is a useful resource to have with you in your car.
Warning! Vodafone customers check your bills
Following an investigation by the Money Saving Expert (MSE), all Vodafone customers are advised to check their bills for errors. The investigation has identified errors in tariffs, direct debits etc. For further details, follow this link.
Is your home insured?
Following concerns expressed by home owners, who have had claims on their house insurance rejected, U-Switch had provided a guide entitled ‘Home Insurance: 10 things you must do to stay covered’. A simple guide to check that your home has appropriate insurance cover.
What do you do if you discover a scam?
If you discover a scam or suspect that you have been a victim of a scam, it is important that you report it, so that appropriate action can be taken by the organisations or authorities involved. The Consumer Association (Which?) provides simple advice on how to confirm and report scams.
Take action and stop unwanted cold callers
Bothered by spam e-mails, junk mail and unwanted telephone calls? Are you pestered by cold callers on your door step? It’s possible to take action against these unwanted intrusions. Follow this link to find out how. To find out more information about staying safe, see the ‘Safety’ page on our information hub.
Mars issues recall of products possibly contaminated with plastic
Mars have recalled a range of their chocolate products after reports of contamination with bits of plastic. Products affected include: Mars bars, Mars miniatures, Snickers, Celebrations, Mini Mix and Milky Way. For further details about this recall, follow this link.
Warning: Where do you keep your spare keys?
U-Switch has provided some really useful tips on how to keep your home and property safe from burglars. Follow this link about the risks associated with spare keys.
Wetherspoons website hacked
Personal details and some credit card details have been stolen by hackers. The event happened a few months ago, but details have only just been released. To find out if you could have been affected and for action to take, follow this link.
Watch out for the latest scams!
Find some tips about the latest scams and how to avoid them. Everything from dodgy vouchers to fake websites. For further advice, follow this link. Other sites which you might find useful include: get safe on-line, cyber streetwise and NY Police cyber crime unit.
If you think you may have been a victim of cyber crime, you are advised to contact North Yorkshire Police.
Update: Trading Standards officers are warning consumers about the risks of buying counterfeit goods on-line. Even goods with CE markings have been discovered to be counterfeit. Be wary of cheap prices and make sure that you check out the vendor. If you have concerns about the safety of a purchase, contact your local Trading Standards Office or contact the police on 101.
‘Mandate fraud’ is on the increase
Mandate fraud is on the increase. So, what is it? Mandate fraud usually involves direct debit payments or payments by standing order and can result in the loss of large amounts of money very quickly. If you suspect you have been a victim, you need to take prompt action to notify your financial institution and the police. For further details click here.
Watch out when you get cash out of a ‘hole in the wall’ (ATM)
There are lots of warnings about being wary when using automatic cash machines (ATMs). However, recently, the scammers (or should that be ‘skimmers’?) are increasingly ingenious. In this article from the Daily Mail, you can read about all the ways in which criminals can corrupt your transaction, including ‘spring traps’ which prevent you removing your card!
Where are the hotspots for mobile phone and tablet thefts?
Information about local and national hotspots for thefts of mobile phones and tablets has been published by BT. Follow this link and be prepared.
Is your insurance up-to-date?
Your lifestyle can affect your insurance premiums and cover. How much your home is occupied or a change in driving frequency can affect how much you pay for insurance cover. So, if you’ve recently retired or changed your job, you should notify your insurance company in order to make sure that you are still covered. Failure to do so, may result in a claim being dismissed. For further details follow this link.
Keeping the District Safe
Read the latest Harrogate District Community Safety Newsletter and find out how to deal with cold callers, shed theft and a whole host of other issues.
Follow this link to access the newsletter.
New council tax scam warning
The Consumer Association (Which?) is warning consumers about a new scam related to council tax. Individuals are being cold-called by companies which are suggesting that their tax banding is to high and that they could be entitled to a refund. Of course, the companies then require a fee, which will necessitate obtaining the individual’s bank details etc.
If you think that your property is in the wrong council tax band, you should contact your local council for a review, which is free of charge.
ID spoofing – an increasing scam
Many of us have telephone handsets which allow us to see a caller’s number, so that we can possibly identify unwanted or scam calls. However, there have been growing instances of nuisance callers and criminals deliberately changing the Caller ID, a practice known as ‘spoofing’. This means that the number displayed could be a local number or one that we recognise so that we feel comfortable about taking the call. To found out more, follow this link and further advice is available here.
Direct Travel closes
Direct Travel has ceased to provide travel insurance. However, existing policies will be honoured and terminated when they lapse. For further details or to access a contact form for the company follow this link.
Could you be committing insurance fraud without realising it?
In these days of ever increasing insurance premiums, it is quite common for parents to assist their children to pay for car insurance. Younger drivers’ premiums can be very expensive. However, if you take out a policy stating that you are the main driver, but your child is using it more regularly, you could be committing fraud. Even if the child is named on the policy and regardless of who is paying the premiums, this is fraud called car insurance fronting. For further clarification about insurance fraud, follow this link.
Pension advice warning
The Government is scaling back its free pensions advice service ‘Pension Wise’ due to disappointing take-up.. There is a major concern that people who are taking money out of their pension pot, under the new pension rules, are not making adequate plans for their financial future. The Government therefore plans to re-advertise its service. Do ensure that you access the ‘Pension Wise’ website, which is free. Other similar sites will charge.
A cautionary tale (or two) about travel insurance
Are you clear about the coverage you are entitled to via your policy? Did you read the small print or the terms and conditions? There have been increasing numbers of failed claims because travellers did not understand their policies. For example, when should your policy start? If the start date is on the day of travel, you will probably not be covered if you need to cancel your holiday (perhaps due to illness or accident) prior to travel. Follow this link for further information on the types of policy available.
Also, do make sure that you declare any existing illnesses or current diagnostic procedures when arranging your policy. Failure to do so may result in no cover should you make a claim.
Tim Kelsey NHS England’s national director resigns
The national director for patients and information at NHS England and leader of the care.data project has resigned. So what is the future of the care.data project which has been mired in controversy over the past three years? The controversy surrounded the rights of patients to opt-out of the scheme and the failure to convince healthcare staff and patients that confidential data would be adequately protected during extraction from GP surgeries, storage at the data centre and subsequent release to researchers and commercial enterprises.
It is unclear what is happening about the data of those patients who have already opted-out of the scheme and whether opting-out will be an option in the future.
Contactless card increased payment limit
This month sees an increase in the single payment limit. To find out more about this technology and how to ensure your security, click here.
New Changes to Consumer Rights Law
From October 1st 2015, big changes to consumer legislation come into force. Make sure that you are aware of these changes by following this link.
In Case of an Emergency (ICE)
In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a scheme which enables first responders, such as paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, as well as hospital personnel, to contact the next of kin of an individual in an emergency. To date, mobile phone owners have been encouraged to include an emergency contact telephone number in their contacts/address list under ‘ICE’. Remember, this contact relies on the phone being in working order and not locked by a password.
Increasingly, people have taken to including an ICE card in their wallet and several companies now sell these cards. However, it is possible to download a free card from a website which also provides useful advice on how to support people as they get older. Don’t forget ….. there is further advice about staying safe, including using the Lion’s containers in your home, on the ‘health’ section of the ‘Information Hub‘.
Fire hazard with some EE mobile phone power bars
EE has received reports of some of their mobile phone power bars catching fire. There is currently a recall on some of them and you are urged to check if yours could be affected. For further details, follow this link.
New Consumer Ombudsman Service launched
A new Consumer Ombudsman service is being launched in response to a growing number of complaints in sectors which have no ombudsman service. According to the Consumer Association (Which?), the new Consumer Ombudsman will accept all consumer complaints about retail companies, home maintenance, improvement or installation services, second-hand cars, car repairs and car servicing.
For further detail see the ‘Topical News‘ page.
Car hire – DVLA codes extension
Good news for people planning to hire a car ….. the DVLA codes have now been extended to 21 days. Find out more on the ‘Topical News’ page.
Shingles vaccination to be extended
For further details, please see the ‘Topical News‘ page.
New alerts about bogus callers
Care.data project to re-start
Despite concerns about privacy concerns NHS England is to restart the extraction of patients’ data from GP surgeries. The project was suspended at the end of last year following concerns expressed by an independent watchdog which highlighted 27 questions about the security of patients’ data. The project was suspended during the run up to the general election. Further updates will appear on the ‘Topical News‘ pages.
More than a third of cold call scams reported to Citizens Advice between April 2014 and March 2015 were for professional and financial services and included phoney banking services, fraudulent credit brokers and fake investment opportunities. There is a concern that scams will continue to thrive if people fail to report them. Current estimates from Citizens Advice suggest that as few as one in twenty scams are reported. Poeple are being encouraged to report scams to the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, Action Fraud. For further information, please follow this link.
Stay safe – opt out of the ‘open’ electoral roll
When you register to vote, make sure you opt out of the edited (open) version of the Electoral Register. This means key details about you, such as your age and address, aren’t listed online and available for anyone to access. Help keep your details safe!
For further details on how to opt-out click here.
Beware of large mobile phone bills ….. Twitter now plays videos automatically. ‘Autoplay’ is now the default setting, so you need to change your settings to avoid racking up huge bills. Follow this link for further information and advice.
Great News! Free calls for mobile phones
From this month, Freephone numbers such as 0800 and 0808 will be free from mobiles.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has also stated that charges for calls must be clearly stated. So changes to call charges for 084/087 numbers will reflect this. Click here for further details.
Are you waiting to have an operation?
If you’re waiting to have an operation, now could be a good time to quit smoking. The ‘New You NHS Smokefree Service’ aims to assist people to give up smoking. For details of the service and list of venues click HardNet News and go to page 7.
Buying on-line? PayPal warning!
Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if you pay for something costing between £100 and £30,000, specifically on a credit card, the card company is jointly liable with the retailer. However, customers have experienced difficulty in making claims following payments by credit card via PayPal. To find out all the details and how to protect yourself, follow this link from the Money Saving Expert (MSE).
Note: There is now an update to this information which includes advice about using debit cards.
Stay safe on-line – how to spot a scam
Lots of people are concerned about their safety and security on-line. The Consumer Association has produced a useful guide spotting on-line scams: anything from fake virus alerts to phishing scams. Follow this link to access the guide.
New rules for motorists who hire cars
If you want to hire a car, there are new rules which you need to understand. From June 8, the paper counterpart of UK photocard driving licences will be abolished. The paper counterpart has always contained details of any driving convictions or penalty points, but from June onwards, this information will have to be obtained online before you try to hire a car.
Drivers will need to log on to the DVLA website in advance, to obtain a code which is valid only for 72 hours, so anyone looking to hire a car more than three days into a trip overseas may need to source the code abroad. To obtain full details, follow this link to contact the DVLA.
There is also a scam warning from the DVLA – so stay safe!
North Yorkshire County Council – Bus Subsidy Reductions!
North Yorkshire County Council has introduced changes to its contracted services in April 2014 to reduce the amount spent on subsidising bus services in North Yorkshire. Further announcements by the Government over future funding mean that the council now needs to find a further estimated £75.9m between 2015 and 2019. The Council has therefore been asked to look at how it might reduce the amount of subsidy for local bus services to £1.5m every year from April 2016.
To have your say about these cuts, go to our ‘Have Your Say‘ page.
A new 24-hour telephone helpline has been launched to assist victims of hate crime in North Yorkshire, as part of a campaign by North Yorkshire Police to tackle the issue across the county.
Hate crime is defined as any act of hostility or violence which is directed at a person because of their disability; gender-identity; race, ethnicity or nationality: religion, faith or belief; sexual orientation.
The Stop Hate UK helpline is available on 0800 138 1625 and is staffed by trained operators 24 hours a day. An online chat service is also available on http://www.stophateuk.org/talk-to-us
Update: You can read the North Yorkshire Hate Crime Report 2015 on our ‘Publications‘ page.
Scams, scams and more scams!
Never underestimate the ingenuity of the criminal mind when it comes to scams. The art of deception comes in a myriad of forms. Offers which seem ‘to good to be true’ – usually are! Anyone approaching you (on the telephone, by post, on your doorstep or in the street) to offer you a ‘great opportunity’ whether it’s to make or save money (or anything else) should be viewed with suspicion. Every day someone becomes a victim of scammers, but it is possible to keep yourself safe – arm yourself with information. This article from the BBC provides a comprehensive overview of scams. There is also further information in relation to ‘pension scams’ on the ‘Topical News‘ page. Don’t let the scammers win – stay safe!
Top Scams of 2015 and how to avoid them
The Consumer Association (Which?) has issued a warning about current scams and the measures you can take to avoid being becoming a victim.
The latest holiday scams ….. be prepared!
It’s time to book a holiday, but make sure that you get the holiday you deserve and don’t get ripped off my some ruthless person who’s after your money. Follow this link for further advice from Which?
With such big changes in the Pension Rules come opportunities for the pension holders, financial advisors and unscrupulous individuals who seize the opportunity to make a lot of money. This ‘Pension Scam’ leaflet includes case histories of two victims.