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Hampshire Trading Standards

 

   Hampshire Trading Standards Web Site

   Buy With Confidence Trader Check Web Site

   Advice from Trading Standards for Consumers Web Site

 

buy with confidence scheme

This link takes you to the dedicated page of our website from where you can do all of the following:

 

·        Visit the Buy With Confidence website to find traders you can trust

 

·         View or download the online version of the Hampshire Buy With Confidence directory

 

·         Order a free hardcopy of the Hampshire Buy With Confidence directory…or you can visit your local Hampshire library to pick up a copy!

 

Independently owned and delivered by Trading Standards, Buy With Confidence operates nationwide.  It is the Trading Standards stamp of approval which enables residents to find businesses they can trust and helps good businesses set themselves apart from the rest.

 

FALSE CLAIMS RE TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE

 

Fraudsters are cold-calling victims, falsely stating that they are calling from one of the well-known UK telecommunication service providers. They call victims claiming to provide a ‘Telephone Preference Service’ - an enhanced call-barring service, which includes barring international call centres.

The fraudsters ask victims to confirm/provide their bank account details, informing them that there is a one-off charge for the service. Victims instead see monthly debits deducted from their accounts, which they have not authorised. The fraudsters often target elderly victims.
 

In all instances, direct debits are set up without following proper procedure. The victim is not sent written confirmation of the direct debit instruction, which is supposed to be sent within three days.
 

On occasions when victims attempted to call back, the telephone number provided by the fraudster was either unable to be reached or the victim’s direct debit cancellation request was refused.
 

During 2017, there were 493 Action Fraud Reports relating to this fraud.

 

Protect yourself:

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

 

Cold spell sparks a warning for last minute skiers as victims lose over £200k in 2017 to ski chalet fraud

 

As people look at booking last minute skiing holidays for the year, Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) are warning of the threat posed by fraudsters.

 

In 2017, victims of ski chalet fraud lost a total of £231,875 to fraudsters. This is an average of £2016 per person and an eight percent increase on the year before. 

 

Reports show that fraudsters are selling bogus ski chalet holidays to unsuspecting victims who are paying large deposits for a property. Once they make the payment they never hear from the property agent again. 

In some instances, victims will turn up in the mountains to find their chosen chalet does not exist or is being used by other holidaymakers.  

 

The vast majority of people who go on winter sports holidays have a trouble free experience, but for some, problems can occur. Holidaymakers booking their flights, transfers and chalets online through separate suppliers are particularly vulnerable to offers that on the surface appears great value for money, but in reality are a scam. 

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “We have seen a rise in the number of ski chalet fraud reports made over the past two years and the impact of falling victim to this type of fraud can be far greater than the financial loss, people can end up missing out on a well-deserved break and left with feelings of distrust which may stop them from booking online in the future. We hope that by raising awareness, people will feel better able to protect themselves 

 

“We recommend that you are thorough when researching a last minute holiday and that you book directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent. When deciding to deal directly with a property owner or letting agent, be sure to ask them questions about the booking, room, location and area.
 
“We urge anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud to report the incident to Action Fraud.”

Chief Executive of ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said: “Unfortunately travel is a very attractive area for fraudsters, who are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they target the public and ski chalet bookings. As these are often of high value with scarce availability, it is a very lucrative area for them. Look for membership of legitimate travel companies such as ABTA and follow police advice, as well as the general information and tips from Get Safe Online. Travel fraud does not only result in financial losses, the emotional costs can also be severe, with much anticipated holidays or trips to visit loved ones being cancelled at very short notice. Victims often only find out once they’ve arrived in resort that they’ve been ripped off.”

Minimise the risks of falling victim to ski holiday fraud:

Get free expert advice: For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.

 

ITUNES FRAUD

 

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service would like to bring residents’ attention to telephone scams where fraudsters cold call and demand payment of an outstanding bill.  Payment is by purchase of Apple iTunes gift cards.
 
The fraudster may claim to be an official from HM Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Justice or other authority, and will threaten arrest if the payment is not made immediately.
 
Once the gift cards have been purchased, the victim is asked to provide the fraudster with the 12 digit code contained on the cards to “make the payment”.  In reality, the fraudster will use or sell the code on-line where it can be exchanged for goods or virtual money.
 
Content of the calls may vary, but the demands are the same.  In some cases victims have been directed to the nearest gift card vendor (supermarket or electrical store).  Others have been made to give their mobile phone numbers, and have been called whilst at the store.
 
Residents can be assured that legitimate organisations will not operate in this manner.  Any requests for payment by gift card should be viewed as attempted fraud.
 
Apple iTunes gift cards should only be used to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership. 
 
To report a scam to Trading Standards, or to receive advice on scams call our partners the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06
 
Scams can also be reported to Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or the police on 101.
 
BEWARE OF FAKE AND DANGEROUS GOODS IN THE WINTER SALES

 

The warning comes at a time when Trading Standards have helped Hampshire residents avoid purchasing a total of £10.6 million worth of unsafe and counterfeit products this year, thanks to batch inspections and sample testing at shops, markets and shipping ports.

Counterfeit goods are made with inferior or dangerous materials, whilst the profits made by rogue traders may help to fund criminal activity. Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “We want to ensure that people do not get duped into buying fake goods at one of the busiest times of the year for online and high street purchases. 

 

“Throughout the year, our Trading Standards officers carry out regular surveillance across Hampshire at locations such as markets, and test unsafe and non-compliant products such as children’s toys and electrical items to protect consumer safety. In this way, we minimise the number of sub-standard and dangerous goods on sale, keep consumers safe, and help to prevent crime in our communities."

 

To remain one step ahead of the fraudsters, Hampshire Trading Standards are advising shoppers to consider these points:

 

Prices - be ready to question an offer with a price which seems to good to be true – it usually means it is. 
Toys - check that toys are suitable for the right age, are CE marked and have the name and address of the importer or manufacturer. 
Shopping online - look for signs that the website is using a secure, encrypted connection such as https:// in the web address. Look at the seller’s returns policy and search for reviews.
Social media purchases – be wary of purchasing products via social media sites. It is notoriously risky as they can contain misleading advertising, counterfeit and unsafe products, subscription traps and many other scams, such as shortened web addresses containing malware.

 

You can report any consumer concerns to Hampshire County Council Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. 

 

BE WISE TO THE CONS THIS CHRISTMAS

 

Hampshire Trading Standards officers are reminding shoppers to stay alert when buying gifts, as cheap deals may not be the bargain they appear. Common fakes include perfume, CDs, videos, DVDs, sports goods, and ‘designer’ clothing - with most found to be either dangerous and/or poorly made. 

 

Here are some top tips to avoid being scammed into buying counterfeit items in person and online. 

 

Toys - Check that toys are suitable for the right age, are CE marked and have the name and address of the importer or manufacturer. 
Shopping online - Look for signs that the website is using a secure, encrypted connection, look at the returns policy or search for reviews of the seller.
Social media purchases – Be wary of purchasing products via social media sites - it is notoriously risky as they can contain misleading advertising, counterfeit and unsafe products, subscription traps and many other scams such as shortened URLs containing malware.
Prices - Be ready to question an offer with a price which seems to good to be true – it usually means it is. 

 

Hampshire Trading Standards is backing National Trading Standards guidance recommending that you follow a Buy Safe checklist.

You can report any concerns to Hampshire County Council Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. 

 

BE ALERT FOR COLD CALLERS AT THE DOOR OR ON THE PHONE - CLAIMING TO BE FROM THE COUNCIL

 

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service is repeating an alert from last year, urging residents to be alert to cold callers at the door and/or phone claiming to be from ‘the Council’.  The callers may claim the resident’s property is in the wrong  Council Tax Band, and that they are due some money back. 

 

They offer to investigate further but ask for a upfront fee, often at the door.

 

Reports have been received from the Basingstoke area, but warning applies countywide

 

Councils will not cold call or ask for money at the door.

 

Any resident wishing to check their Council Tax band can do this by calling the Valuation Office Agency on 0300 0501 501 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm).  There is no fee for the checking service.

 

For advice on scams, or to report a matter to Trading Standards, contact our partners at the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

 

Further inform can be found on the following gov.uk website  Council Tax Appeals.

 

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN ALERT

 

Fraudsters are sending out a high volume of phishing emails to personal and business email addresses, pretending to come from various email addresses, which have been compromised.
 
The subject line contains the recipient’s name, and the main body of text is as below:
 
“Hi, [name]!
 
I a.m.disturbing you for a very serious reason. Although we are not familiar, but I have significant amount of individual info concerning you. The thing is that, most likely mistakenly, the data of your account has been emailed to me.
 
For instance, your address is:
 
[real home address]
 
I a.m.a law-abiding citizen, so I decided to personal data may have been hacked. I attached the file – [surname].dot that I received, that you could explore what info has become obtainable for scammers. File password is – 2811
 
Best Wishes,”

 
The emails include an attachment – a ‘.dot’ file usually titled with the recipient’s name.

 

 

This attachment is thought to contain the Banking Trojan Ursniff/Gozi, hidden within an image in the document. The Ursniff Banking This attachment is thought to contain the Banking Trojan Ursniff/Gozi, hidden within an image in the document. The Ursniff Banking Trojan attempts to obtain sensitive data from victims, such as banking credentials and passwords. The data is subsequently used by criminals for monetary gain.

Protect Yourself:
 

Having up-to-date virus protection is essential; however it will not always prevent your device(s) from becoming infected.
 
Please consider the following actions:
 

  • Don’t click on links or open any attachments you receive in unsolicited emails or SMS messages: Remember that fraudsters can ‘spoof’ an email address to make it look like one used by someone you trust. If you are unsure, check the email header to identify the true source of communication (you can find out how by searching the internet for relevant advice for your email provider).

  • Do not enable macros in downloads; enabling macros will allow Trojan/malware to be installed onto your device.

  • Always install software updates as soon as they become available. Whether you are updating the operating system or an application, the update will often include fixes for critical security vulnerabilities.

  • Create regular backups of your important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. It is important that the device you back up to is not connected to your computer as any malware infection could spread to that as well.

  • If you think your bank details have been compromised, you should contact your bank immediately.

 

If you have been affected by this or any other fraud, report it to

Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.

doorstep callers - driveway work & cleaning

 

Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service is warning the public to be wary of cold callers at the door offering to driveway work, this includes offers to clean, seal and sand driveways, patios, etc.  Reports have been received from the Fareham & Chandlers Ford areas, but the warning applies to all of Hampshire.

 

Callers may offer a tempting price which the resident agrees too; but that price will be doubled when it comes to payment.  The reason given is that the price did not include sanding and sealing, and that the resident misunderstood the original agreement.   The sealing may not be effective.

 

Residents should always ask for paperwork before agreeing to have any work done in or around the home, this should include a right to cancel.  Also, to get a minimum of 3 quotes from different companies before proceeding with any work.

 

Although consumers have statutory rights when buying at the door, including a 14 day right to cancel for goods over £42, the right to a refund, replacement or repair if the goods are faulty, falsely described or not fit for purpose.  Those rights can only be exercised if the seller is a trader, and if they give full and correct contact information. The trader must also give a consumer paperwork detailing a 14 day cancellation period. This paperwork must also request your authorisation to start within the 14 day cancellation period.  Please note that if you agree for work to start within the 14 days but decided to cancel within the cancellation period a consumer must pay a reasonable sum for the work completed. Trading Standards recommend residents do not buy goods at the door.

 

For further information on buying at the door,  click on the following link to Hampshire Trading Standards website Your rights when buying at the door

 

Members of Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme are fully audited to ensure their trading practices are legal, honest and fair.  All members have been checked for trustworthiness and compliance with consumer protection laws. Details can be obtained by telephoning 01962 833620, emailing buy.with.confidence@hants.gov.uk or via the website www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk

 

If anyone has any information about traders who are cold calling or requires any advice on doorstep crime they can contact Hampshire County Council's

 

Quick Response Team on 01962 833666

(Monday – Friday 0900hrs to 1700hrs)

 

where specially trained officers are on hand to provide advice. 

 

If assistance is required outside of these hours please contact Hampshire Police on their non-urgent number 101 or dial 999 if you feel threatened or intimidated.

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