I've been made of aware of just a few things to watch out for recently that I thought would be worth sharing with you; 65% of Action Fraud reports during the 2016 Christmas period were linked to online auction sites. Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud. Action Fraud are also warning about the ‘PayPal’ fake email that tells you that your account has been suspended – do not click on the box to ‘confirm account’. It is also worth knowing that @action_fraud_uk is a FAKE account, the real Action Fraud is working to get them shut down as this account is not verified and is hijacking conversations and asking for personal information.
Individuals and businesses are being warned by E-Cops to watch out for cold calls and online contact from fraudsters who are offering victims the opportunity to apply for Government grants for an advance fee. To make the grants look legitimate, fraudsters have set up bogus companies and convincing looking websites that claim to be operating on behalf of the UK Government. Be wary of unsolicited callers implying that you can apply for grants. You should never have to pay to receive a government grant, and they definitely won’t instruct you to obtain a pre-paid credit card. The government should have all the information they need if a genuine grant application was submitted, therefore any requests for personal or banking information either over the phone or online should be refused.
We have been notified by quite a number of residents that the phone scam claiming to be from HMRC is doing the rounds at the moment. The calls can be quite upsetting as they claim that you have a court action against you. Some people have had messages left saying that they are in ‘a lot of trouble’. Please be aware of this scam and don’t panic if you get this call. The advice we give is ‘Keep Calm and Hang Up’. You could ask your service provider to block the number they are calling from too. You can dial 1471 after the call to find the last number that called you and spam texts can be forwarded to 7726 (which spells SPAM on your phone keypad).
Sutton Police Dept. (USA) have put out a facebook warning as follows: ‘Please be aware of some of the posts you comment on. Beware of the ones who ask your favourite teachers name, your childhood best friend, where you were born, favourite place, first pet, where you went on your first flight? Posted as ‘getting to know you’ questions, these are the same security questions asked when setting up accounts and you are giving out the answers to your security questions without realising it. Hackers can then build a profile of you from several different data sources and they can then use this information to open accounts or lines of credit in your name.’ I’ve seen these questions myself so this is clearly a UK issue too, though I hadn’t realised at the time!
All that remains is for me to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Community Protection Officer
People and Communities Directorate
Telephone: 01954 286006 or 07810153604