Category Archives: Money & Finance

Latest scam updates from West Yorkshire Trading Standards

Here are the latest scam updates for West Yorkshire, published 29/6/2020.

Scroll to the bottom for information on reporting scams and unwanted telephone calls.

Non-compliant goods including PPE

Non-compliant consignments of PPE and other goods are coming into the country from outside the EU.  WY Standards are working to remove a large number of unsafe products from online websites and advising five district councils within West Yorkshire on the
procurement of safe products for staff across the councils, with particular regard to their Health and Social Care provision.

Withdrawal Notices have been issued to West Yorkshire businesses that have persisted to sell unsafe PPE following advice from Officers. These Notices are statutory Notices effectively banning from the market place goods which can’t be shown to meet the required standard. Guided business big and small through red tape to get safe, compliant products to the market quickly.

Scams trending locally, regionally and nationally

Costco Loyalty Reward Scam Message. Cybercriminals are sending out fake Costco messages attempting to trick victims into visiting a fake link and completing surveys that steal personal and financial information, steal account credentials or infect their devices with malware.

HMRC Job Retention scams. The Job Retention Scheme is being targeted by fraudsters who are attempting to take advantage of it with a subsequent rise in business owners targeted by phishing emails purporting to be from the HMRC.

Bitcoin payments. Emails are on the increase claiming to be from reputable organisations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or
the World Health Organisation (WHO) and requesting Bitcoin payments.

Reports of doorstep crime in Leeds involving gardening services targeting elderly and vulnerable consumers– overcharging for shoddy workmanship and impersonating a genuine business with the same name.

Beware of Loan Sharks during the COVID-19 pandemic

Anyone working with vulnerable people who is concerned that a client, resident or service user may be a victim of loan sharks can make a referral to the Stop Loan Sharks service 24 hours a day on 0300 555 2222.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), also known as Stop Loan Sharks, is a government funded criminal enforcement agency, working to identify, investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders, commonly known as loan sharks. The IMLT has warned that loan sharks may be looking to take advantage of those who have found themselves in a vulnerable position during the pandemic. Stop Loan Sharks is committed to helping victims of illegal money lending and providing support that is immediate, practical and tailored to their needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Stop Loans Sharks has launched a number of new services to help it stay in touch during the pandemic:
  • An online chat service on Tuesdays between 9am and 5pm is available at http://www.stoploansharks.co.uk
  • Online training for partner agencies, including health, care and housing staff – email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk to register your interest.
  • A new animation to coincide with Scams Awareness fortnight to help people spot the signs of illegal money lending  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g3_6BxSkdU&t=7s

Listen to free podcast
A new awareness-raising podcast series, including campaigns such as Cheltenham Says No and an interview with a loan shark victim. Your Money and Your Life series is available on all major podcast directories.

  • Phishing Emails – Tips
    Never click on links or download attachments from emails you receive out of the blue as they can release malware onto your device or steal your bank details.
  • Always make sure emails requesting financial or secure information are legitimate and from a trusted sender before you take action.
  • Try not to panic and feel pressured into making rash decisions.
  • It is important to ensure your security settings are up to date on all your devices. Never share your screen with anyone you cannot confirm is legitimate.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Take time to do your research beforehand if you wish to donate to a charity, and always send money through a secure online portal.

Receiving lots of nuisance calls

Have you checked to see if you are on the open register? Your details may be sold on the open register to third party marketing companies. You can contact your local councils’ electoral services department & opt into the closed register if you wish. You can also register with the Telephone Preference Service- it’s Free! – http://www.tpsonline.org.uk

Reporting Scams

  • Report scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
  • Report complaints to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133
  • New mailbox to deal with reports of Covid-19 Scams in West Yorkshire: Covid19.Scams@wyjs.org.uk
  • Report to us: @wytradstandards

Thousands of married women could be missing out on pension benefits!

Married women who reached state pension age prior to April 2016 could be missing out on additional state pension income.

The MoneySavingExpert website reports this month that women whose basic state pension is less than 60% of their husband’s, are due a top up. Many didn’t get it either due to a computer glitch, or because they didn’t know they had to claim. Their website states:

“This can be a substantial amount of money. For example, a woman who reached state pension age in 2010 and who currently gets £55 a week as a basic state pension could be entitled to an extra £1,300 a year if her husband gets the full basic state pension, plus about £5,000 backdated as a lump sum if he retired in 2015.

When the state pension was first set up after the Second World War, as men were the primary earners, and women didn’t work for as many years as men – married women were given a proportion of their husband’s state pension – and they paid less in national insurance contributions because of it.”

Why has this happened?
On 6 April 2016, the Government changed the state pension rules, so those who reached state pension age before this date, could be entitled to an additional amount. But many women:

  • Were not aware they could claim 60% of their husband’s basic state pension or,
  • Did not get the right amount due to a computer error. If their husband’s retired after 16 March 2008 they should have been given the extra payments, so now need to check their records.

To find out if you are eligible, check this free pension calculator, developed by pension advisory firm Lane, Clark & Peacock or visit the Pension Service website.

Read the full article from MoneySavingExpert here.

Scam Alerts: 15 June 2020

Here’s a selection of the latest scams circulating in West Yorkshire and beyond.

Seafood sellers in Leeds
Traders in Leeds reported to be selling fish & seafood on the doorstep, using high pressure sales tactics to target consumers who are isolating due to covid-19 . They are reported to have a mobile card machine to take payment at the door. However, through various means, they overcharge the consumer- for example entering £449.00 in to the card machine instead of £49.00, through distraction techniques. The consumer often doesn’t realise until a later date, getting a nasty shock when they check their bank statement.
 
Fake NHS websites
Fraudsters have set up fake websites, impersonating the NHS website. The websites contain numerous links that claim to offer updates about COVID-19. But clicking on the links prompts the user to download and save a file called COVID19.exe. This file contains information stealing malware.

NHS Test and Trace Service
There are still reports of scam callers claiming to be from NHS Test and Trace service asking for payment details in order to purchase a test kit. The NHS will not ask you to pay for a test kit and will not ask for your bank account details. Please check the Government website for further guidance.

 Income Tax scams
Reports of pre-recorded scam messages telling consumers that there is a fraudulent claim against their Income Tax. The message encourages the call recipient to call a premium rate telephone number. Reports of fraudulent websites selling face masks and coverings, charging customers, but not delivering the goods.
Report Scams:
Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040

General Guidance
Report complaints to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133
New mailbox to deal with reports of Covid-19 Scams in West Yorkshire: Covid19.Scams@wyjs.org.uk

 
YOUR DOORSTEP YOUR DECISION
If you feel pressured, ask the person to leave.
 
NO SNAP DECISIONS
Take time to talk to someone you trust before you make any decisions.
 
FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE BEST
Support from trusted friends, family or neighbours is ideal. Be vigilant for strangers offering services at the door that may want to take
advantage.

 

Scams – latest advice, including PPE scams

8 June 2020: West Yorkshire Trading Standards weekly update on COVID-19 related scams.

The current pandemic has seen a huge increase in the need for PPE, particularly face masks across the world. Unfortunately fraudsters have been quick to react and bring to the market many products which don’t meet the stringent safety standards expected of them.

There are 3 different types of mask…

  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) (May also have a valve fitted). Only masks designed to protect the wearer are PPE. These should be kept available for those in high risk medical environments and other roles where PPE is a necessity.
  • ‘Surgical’/‘Medical’ masks designed to limit the transmission of infection. Mainly provides protection for others from the wearer. These are often used by medical staff and patients.
  • General face coverings (including homemade masks and coverings). Intended to reduce the risk to the public but not the individual. These are for use by the general public.

How to spot a fake PPE mask:

  • The mask or packaging should have the name and address in the EU of its manufacturer or importer.
  • The ‘CE’ mark should be present alongside a 4 digit number this identifies who assessed the safety of the product.
  • The mask or packaging should be marked with ‘EN 149:2001+A1:2009’
  • The mask or packaging should state either ‘FFP2’ or ‘FFP3’. If products are only marked as ‘KN95’ or ‘N95’ without the above information they are unlikely to have had their safety correctly assessed.

Scams trending regionally in West Yorkshire and nationally

  • Fraudsters have set up a fake website, impersonating the NHS website. The website contained numerous links that claimed to offer updates about COVID19. But clicking on the links prompted the user to download and save a file called COVID19.exe. This file contains information stealing malware.
  • Action Fraud reports an increase in emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claiming that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution.
  • An increase in reports of scam callers claiming to be from NHS Test and Trace service asking for payment details in order to purchase a test kit. Currently, coronavirus test kits are provided by the NHS, so they are therefore free of charge. NHS contact tracers will call you from 0300 013 5000 or send you a text message from ‘NHS’. NHS contact tracers will never ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind and they won’t ask for details about your bank account. Contact tracers will not ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else. Finally, they won’t ask you to call them back on a premium rate number (starting 09, or 087).

New mailbox to deal with reports of Covid-19 Scams in West Yorkshire: Covid19.Scams@wyjs.org.uk

Forward scam emails to report@phishing.gov.uk

Report complaints to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133

Report scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040

Power of Attorney: a guide to making one

It is still possible to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) while observing Government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding.


Making a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is an important decision that you should think about carefully. An LPA needs to be signed and witnessed by several people. Once the LPA has been signed, you need to send it to the Government for registration. It may then be around 8 weeks before you get the registered LPA back and can start using it. This includes a 4 week waiting period required by law.

The Government are  working hard to continue registering LPAs and keep everyone doing the work safe. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 they say it might take longer than normal to register LPAs. Please continue to check their coronavirus response page for updates. You can still make an LPA during this time. There are other ways people can make decisions for you that are quicker to get in place. These may be useful while you’re waiting for an LPA to be registered or if you’re self-isolating and need someone to carry out bank transactions for you.

How do I make an LPA during the COVID-19 outbreak?

If you need to make an LPA now, you can still do so while observing government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding.

The guidance was updated in May 2020. Please check back regularly, for further updates.

You must read this guidance alongside the standard guidance on making an LPA.

This guidance is for people in England and Wales only. There is separate guidance for people in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Signing and witnessing the LPA

Because of the current social distancing rules, you should not go into anyone else’s house to get them to sign the LPA or ask anyone to come into your house. Instead use other ways to get the LPA signed and witnessed.

For example, you can post the LPA to the people who need to sign it.

If they live within walking distance, you could take the LPA to the people who need to sign. However, you must:

  • keep at least 2 metres away from each other at all times
  • wash your hands before and after handling the LPA

Do not:

  • use digital signatures – the document must be printed out and signed by hand with a black pen
  • send people photocopies or scans of the LPA to sign – everyone must sign the same, original document
  • ask people to send you a scan or photocopy of the page they’ve signed – we cannot register an LPA that includes scans or copied pages

Witnessing the donor and attorneys’ signatures

Someone must watch the donor signing the LPA, then sign it themselves to say they’ve witnessed the signature. Each attorney and replacement attorney’s signature must also be witnessed.

A neighbour can witness a signature, for example, on the doorstep or over the garden fence. Remember to keep at least 2 metres apart. A signature can also be witnessed through a closed window.

Someone the donor lives with can witness their signature, as long as that person:

  • is aged 18 or over
  • has mental capacity
  • is not an attorney or replacement attorney on the LPA

Someone an attorney lives with can witness their signature, as long as that person:

  • is aged 18 or over
  • has mental capacity
  • is not the donor on the LPA

If there’s more than 1 attorney and they live together, they can witness each other’s signatures.

Rules on witnessing

The witness must:

  • be shown the blank signature and date box before they’re signed
  • have a clear view of the person signing the LPA, so they can see the signature being made
  • be shown the completed signature and date box immediately afterwards

Do not witness signatures over video calls, such as Skype or FaceTime. Signatures must be witnessed in person.

If the donor cannot sign the LPA

If the donor is not able to use a pen and cannot sign the LPA, someone else can sign on their behalf.

The donor and 2 other people must be there in person to witness the signature being made. The 2 witnesses must also sign the LPA.

All the rules on witnessing above apply.

Make sure the LPA is signed in the right order

It’s very important that the LPA is signed in the right order. If it’s not, we cannot register it. The donor may have to make a new LPA, get it signed again, and pay another application fee.

The certificate provider and donor conversation

The certificate provider must talk to the donor about the LPA to make sure the donor understands it and is not being pressured to make it.

Often this conversation happens face-to-face. At the moment you may want to think about using a phone or video call instead. The certificate provider should make sure the call is private.

Think carefully about who should be sent the registered LPA

When you make an LPA, you’ll be asked to say who will be the ‘correspondent’. This is the person we’ll send the registered LPA to.

If you think you might need to use the LPA very soon after it’s registered, think carefully about who should be the correspondent to make sure the person who needs it has access to it.

Organisations, such as banks and care homes, will want to see this original registered LPA when an attorney wants to make decisions on the donor’s behalf.

If you do not have access to a printer

You can ask a friend or family member to print the forms and post them to you.

You can also ask us to post you the LPA application forms. Our telephone number is: 0300 456 0300

How you can help the Government register your LPA as quickly as possible

  • Use their online service to make the LPA and pay the application fee by card rather than cheque. 
  • If the donor and attorney have email addresses, include them on the LPA form. This will make it much quicker if they need to be contacted
  • Double check your forms before sending them in. Avoid common mistakes, by making sure:

When you post your LPA to the Governement and when you’re waiting for the registered LPA to be posted back, please bear in mind that the postal service may be slower than usual. You can see service updates on the Royal Mail website.

Scams – latest alerts in West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire Trading Standards weekly update on COVID-19 related scams. What is happening at the moment in West Yorkshire?

Reports of a rogue trading company cold calling residents to say they’ve sent a letter stating they needed to ‘come and check if the air was fresh’ and ‘would install instruments to cleanse the air if not. They claimed pure air would prevent the coronavirus.

Reports of a doorstep caller in Kirklees targeting vulnerable residents who are socially isolated. Caller claimed he was from the Red Cross, he then said he was from Social Services and he was responding to a report that there was no food in the house. The male then entered the property following the householder into the kitchen. He was not invited
in. No food was brought, nor did he have identification of any kind.

Door to door mattress sellers reported in Brighouse, traders reported to be selling mattresses that may be unsafe for consumers and not meet fire safety regulations.

Reports of rogue traders operating in the Mirfield area offering gardening services to consumers. The traders are going door to door offering to do work for a certain price, this price then changes when work is completed.

We are receiving reports of fake PPE equipment being offered, and supplied in West Yorkshire. Claims are made that products meet specific safety standards, but often they have dubious supply chains, where

Investment scams on social media offering 8% return on purchasing student flats.

Phishing emails purporting to be from EasyJet offering compensation to customers who have had their holiday cancelled.

Phishing emails purporting to be from Amazon requesting customers update their delivery address.

Scam callers claiming to be from NHS Test and Trace service asking for personal banking information.

Report scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
Report complaints to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133
New mailbox to deal with reports of Covid-19 Scams in West Yorkshire: Covid19.Scams@wyjs.org.uk

Scams: This week’s trends

An update on the scams trending at the moment in West Yorkshire

Anti-Scam Tips

With many older people alone or in lockdown at home, the threat of scams must be taken seriously. The following have been reported:

  • Email circulating to businesses purporting to be from the Chief Finance Officer from Local Councils advising them of eligibility for a £25,000 grant. This is not genuine and a scam email.
  • Criminals continue to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to commit fraud, as a scam involving the purchase of pets, such as puppies and kittens, continues to be reported to Action Fraud.
  • Fraudsters selling fake ‘NHS’ lanyards to purchase online. Obviously these are not genuine NHS items but something to be aware of when we are engaging with elderly / vulnerable residents. Just because someone is wearing a lanyard doesn’t make their intentions genuine.
  • Supermarket Voucher scams continue to increase. Multiple reports of fake supermarket adverts on Social Media offering vouchers for families to spend in store during the pandemic.
  • Apple Itunes phishing email claiming that billing information needs to be updated or account will be terminated.
  • TV Licence Phishing email claiming that direct debits have been cancelled and payment information is needed.
  • Paypal Phising email claiming you won’t be able to use the service unless you update your information online.

YOUR DOORSTEP YOUR DECISION
If you feel pressured, ask the person to leave.NO SNAP DECISIONS
Take time to talk to someone you trust before you make any decisions.DO THE CHECKS
You can check ID badges and contact associations to check membership registrations yourself. Call the telephone number of the organisation, obtain this number yourself, not from the person at the door.Forward scam emails to report@phishing.gov.ukReport complaints to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133Report scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040

Scams: Spotting suspicious emails and what to do

More advice follows on how to spot suspicious emails and what to do with them to avoid being scammed.

We have all had a dodgy looking email that we have either placed in the trash or reported back to individual sites. Well did you know there is a bespoke reporting service for all suspicious emails that we are encouraging you to use, the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (Sers).

As well as taking down malicious sites it will provide live time analysis of reports, identify new patterns in online offending and help the police stop even more offenders in their tracks.

So report your suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk

Don’t click, report it, protect yourselves.

Follow these Cyber Tips

1. Create a strong separate password for your email.
2. Create a strong password using three random words or the letters to a well known phrase (make it stronger with special characters)
3. Save your passwords in your browser, or use an online password vault – it’s safer than using the same password.
4. Turn on two-factor authentification (2FA) if offered, especially with banks. A couple of extra seconds may stop you becoming the next online victim.
5. Update you devices regulary, set them to ‘automatic update’.
6. Turn on backup, an external backup drive is a great place to start.

Cash Delivery Payments For Vulnerable Via Post Office

Cash delivery payments are now available “for the most vulnerable individuals”  due to a Post Office and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) partnership initiative.

The new cash delivery option has initially been made available to those Post Office Card Account customers who are shielding at home and are the most at risk from the virus. The cash payments are available to the DWP to use to support their most vulnerable customers, initially in England, who are shielding because of the risk of infection should they leave their home.

The National Shielding Service is a working partnership with DWP that enables contact to be made with specific customers to determine if they need to receive a cash payment to be delivered. When notified by DWP of those individuals who require a cash delivery, the Post Office will ensure cash is sent to their home using Royal Mail Special Delivery and that it arrives by 9pm the following day. This means that those individuals who must avoid leaving the home because of the risk of infection receive the cash that they need.

The Post Office has repurposed part of its foreign exchange cash delivery business to enable the overnight delivery of sterling cash and meet demand.

Postal Affairs Minister, Paul Scully, said:

“This vital service will ensure the Government can get cash to people that need it, without them having to leave their homes. I want to thank postmasters and their teams for their continued hard work to support our communities across the UK.”

The new cash delivery option has initially been made available to those Post Office Card Account customers who are shielding at home and are the most at risk from the virus.

Earlier this week, the Post Office announced details of two its access to cash products – ‘Fast PACE’ and ‘Payout Now’ had been made available to the UK’s banks, building societies and credit unions. These products can be offered to their customers who are self-isolating and require cash.

The Post Office is considering how to make its new cash delivery service available to the UK’s financial institutions and who can offer it to their customers.

Post Office customers can see how coronavirus may affect Post Office services on its website and can find the latest information on the Post Office Card Account and branch opening hours on its Branch Finder.

For more information see Post Office launches new cash delivery option to help the most vulnerable available from corporate.postoffice.co.uk.

Scam updates

What scams are trending at the moment in West Yorkshire? The weekly round-up from Yorkshire Trading Standards.

  • Automated Scam messages from fraudsters claiming to be Amazon Prime, the call states that a trial membership was about to expire and they would be deducting £34 from your bank account.
  • Travel scams on the increase as fraudsters purport to be from travel companies, tour operators and insurers are offering to re-book or refund cancelled holidays.
    Fraudulent emails sent to organisations stating they have qualified for the sum of $200,000.00 from the World Health Organisation relief fund.
  • Phishing emails offering the sale of testing kits and face masks
  • Fake text messages claiming to be from Nat West bank – customers have reported receiving a messaging stating that they have updated banking information and tells you to click the link in the text, the link takes you to a site where fraudsters will steal banking Information.
  • Supermarket Voucher scams are being shared widely on Social Media sites. Fraudsters are claiming to be offering food vouchers for families in need to spend in stores.

Top Tips

YOUR DOORSTEP YOUR DECISION
If you feel pressured, ask the person to leave.

NO SNAP DECISIONS
Take time to talk to someone you trust before you make any decisions. DO THE CHECKS You can check ID badges and contact associations to check membership registrations yourself. Call the telephone number of the organisation, obtain this number yourself, not from the person at the door.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE BEST
Support from trusted friends, family or neighbours is ideal. Be vigilant for strangers offering services at the door that may want to take advantage.

Report Scams

New mailbox to deal with reports of Covid-19 Scams in West Yorkshire: Covid19.Scams@wyjs.org.uk
Report complaints to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133
Report scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040

Citizens Advice: Energy bill guidance & support

Here we have some really helpful guidance from Citizens Advice on reducing your energy bills.

It’s estimated that average households will use 15% more energy during this lock-down period, and more energy usage means high bills.

Citizens Advice Calderdale has an Energy Adviser ready to help you save money and keep your home safe and warm.

Their Energy Adviser can:

  • Help you switch the way you pay, compare tariffs, switch provider, and claim the Warm Home Discount.
  • Give you examples of simple energy saving measures and energy efficiency hints and tips.
  • Help explain your energy costs, how to read your bill, how to read your meter.
  • Refer you to a specialist for a benefit check, and debt advice.
  • Gain access to housing insulation and heating grants.
  • Help you with energy consumer issues such as dealing with complaints, redress when things go wrong, getting access to the Priority Services for vulnerable customers.

Call on 0300 330 9048 and ask for an Energy Assessment today.

NEWS: Beware scams in Calderdale and remain vigilant

Scams are on the rise due to the environment created by the coronavirus lockdown.

Calderdale Council has been made aware of fake emails being sent from addresses using the calderdale.gov.uk domain.

The emails being sent come from addresses ending ‘@calderdale.gov.uk’, and state that a PayPal transaction has been processed. These emails are part of a phishing scam and have nothing to do with the Council.

The Council will never ask for any personal details or payment information by email.

The best way to spot these emails is to look at the full address. The fake emails use a jumble of letters rather than a name or a department as the first part of the email address.

Anyone receiving an email of this type should delete it without clicking on any of the links.

The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said:

“Email scams of this type are called spoofing scams. This is a phishing tactic used by cyber criminals to trick users into thinking an email is being sent from a legitimate source. 

“We’d like to thank those customers who let us know about these emails, and make it clear that these have nothing to do with the Council.” 

Fraudsters have a range of tactics and you need to be aware of them and stay vigilant.  On Friday 20 March, City of London Police reported a 400% increase in scams as a result of coronavirus-related fraud.

You may have experienced some scams already, most common is emails sending you to other web sites known as phishing sites but there have also been reports of criminals knocking on front doors offering to go shopping for people who are self-isolating at home. Others are related to online shopping scams involving sought-after items like face masks and hand sanitizer.

So what should you look out for to avoid falling victim yourself?   Calderdale Council offers this advice:

  • Reject offers that come out of the blue
  • Beware adverts on social media channels if not from a trustworthy source
  • Do not click on links or open emails from senders you don’t already know
  • Be wary of deals that sound too good to be true
  • Do not give out personal details
  • Seek financial advice before changing any pension arrangements or making investments
  • Do not draw attention to the fact that you are self-isolating alone.

The Which website has more advice and a video guide to avoiding scams.  Read more.