Keeping You Safe

 

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Here to Help – 4. Scams
 

 

Beware of Scams

If you’ve been called out of the blue or get a text offering to help you get your cost of living or energy payments down, it’s likely to be a scam attempting to get your bank details.

 

You can protect yourself with this quick three-step check:

    1. If you’re asked to pay an upfront fee, it could be scam.

    2. If you’re asked to pay quickly, it could be a scam.

    3. If you’re asked to pay in an unusual way, such as vouchers or money transfer, or asked for your bank details, it could be a scam.

 

Worried you’ve been scammed?

  • If you’re already responded, end all communication immediately.
  • Call your bank and cancel any recurring payments.
  • Report the scam to the Police Action Fraud service on 0300 123 2040.
  • If you need further help call the Citizen Advice Scams Action Helpline on 0808 250 5050.
  
 
Message Sent By
Jonathan Staples
(Staffordshire Police, PCSO, Staffordshire Moorlands)

 

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Vehicle Security & Safe Defrosting


If you’re heading out in your car or van, please make sure you allow time to fully defrost your windscreen so you have clear vision of the road. You must remain with your vehicle at all times whilst it defrosts as an unattended vehicle with keys in the ignition can be tempting for opportunistic thieves. 

Take a look at our website for more advice on vehicle security: https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/keeping-vehicles-safe/

  

 
Message Sent By
Rebecca Gorman
(Staffordshire Police, PCSO, Staffordshire Moorlands)
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Neighbourhood Watch
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Think WIDEN to prevent burglary


 

Nearly two-thirds (65%)* of us are worried about our home being broken into, yet there are simple, proven measures we can all take to halve our chances of being burgled. 

We have joined forces with our longstanding primary smart security partner, ERA Home Security, to bring you our Think WIDE(N) burglary prevention campaign highlighting the simple, evidence-based WIDE measures which can be taken in any home on a variety of budgets.

At Neighbourhood Watch, we also believe neighbours keeping an eye out for each other is key to reducing burglary, so we’ve extended the WIDE acronym to WIDE(N):

Leaving home? Use this free home security checklist to leave your home safe and secure.

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Network, said ‘We know that by securing your home’s windows, interior, doors, exterior and keeping an eye out for neighbours, we can all give ourselves the best chance of preventing burglary.

 

If you have been burgled recently, criminals are familiar with your home and may come back once you’ve had time to purchase new items. Act soon to avoid being retargeted – use the WIDE(N) advice for a combination of simple yet effective prevention measures.’

Learn more at ourwatch.org.uk/thinkwiden. 

Neighbourhood Watch Crime and Community Survey 2022

Best wishes,

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH NETWORK, Central Support Team
ourwatch.org.uk / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn / Online shop
Neighbourhood Watch Network is a charity registered in England & Wales, CIO no: 1173349

  

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Central Support Team
(NWN, Enquiries Dept, England and Wales)
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Action Fraud (NFIB)
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Fraudsters stole £15.3m from Christmas shoppers last year


New figures revealed victims of online shopping scams lost on average £1,000 per person during last year’s festive shopping season.

The figures, which come from reports made to Action Fraud and analysed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), showed that shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were scammed out of £15.3m between November 2021 and January 2022, and that the age group most likely to fall victim was 19 to 25-year-olds.

Scams ranged from one shopper losing more than £150 trying to purchase a mobile phone on social media to another being duped out of more than £7,000 during an attempted online campervan purchase. Meanwhile, another victim lost almost £500 when trying to buy shoes on a social media platform, and a fourth lost £145 trying to make a similar purchase.

Top tips to shop online securely this festive season:

Action Fraud and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are urging online shoppers to protect their accounts, check before they buy, and use secure payment methods in order to stay ahead of the threat from criminals this shopping season:

  • Protect your accounts: set up 2-step verification and use three random words passwords to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your shopping, bank or email accounts.
  • Choose carefully where you shop: Research online retailers, particularly if you haven’t bought from them before, to check they’re legitimate. Read feedback from people or organisations that you trust, such as consumer websites.
  • Pay securely: Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected. Also consider using a payment platform, such as PayPal, Google or Apple Pay. And whenever you pay, look for the closed padlock in the web address bar – it means your connection is secure.

For more advice on how to shop online securely this festive season, visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/shopping-online-securely

(If you found this information useful, please forward it to friends, family members and colleagues)

  

 
Message Sent By
Action Fraud
(Action Fraud, Administrator, National)
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The Police
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Vehicle Crime


Theft of vehicles is increasingly commonplace with offenders either utilising keyless technology such as fobs/relay devices or gaining entry into a property to steal car keys.

The following model and make of cars are often targeted:

  • Ford (Fiesta, Focus, Transit & Rangers)
  • Audi ( A4, RS4, TT, A3, Q3 & Q7)
  • BMW (M40, 330 & X5)
  • Mercedes (C220 & Sprinters)

Staffordshire Police is proactively working to stop vehicle crime, with increased patrols of local areas, and by working closely with regional forces to share intelligence.

Help us help you in our work to deter criminals from stealing cars from residential properties.

Protect your car:

  • Place key fobs in faraday pouches. This prevents thieves from intercepting the car fob signal.
  • Keep your cars locked.
  • Consider use of steering wheel locks.
  • Keep your car keys out of reach and out of sight.
  • Keep doors and windows locked and secure.
  • Park your car in a well lit area.

Need More Advice?

To report a crime:

  • Call 101 or visit www.staffordshire.police.uk
  • Direct message us through Facebook and Twitter
  • Dial 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress

  

 
Message Sent By
Ashley Goodwin
(Staffordshire Police, PCSO, Staffordshire Moorlands)

 

 

ALERT: Energy Bill Scam texts

Action Fraud has received 139 crime reports relating to fake text messages purporting to be from the UK government. The texts state that the recipient is “owed” or “eligible” for an energy bill discount as part of the Energy Bill Support Scheme. The links in the emails lead to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal your personal and financial information.

You can see screenshots of the text messages on our Twitter post here.

How to protect yourself

  • Energy Bill Discount : £400 off energy bills for households in Great Britain from October 2022. You do not need to apply for the scheme and you will not be asked for your bank details.
  • Spotted a suspicious text message? Forward it to 7726 (it’s free of charge). If you forward a text to 7726, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender, if it’s found to be malicious.

For more information on how to stay secure online, please visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk

 

 

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT LINE

Lockdown can be different for everyone depending on your personal situation, however if you feel you’re struggling there are organisations available to provide support and advice.

A 24-hour mental health helpline launched at the beginning of the second national lockdown has already received and supported more than 400 calls for help.

The helpline, established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council with Brighter Futures, has received 431 calls from residents struggling with their mental health, with 33 of these calls being from residents who said they were feeling suicidal.

Call handlers from Brighter Futures provide callers with a safe space to talk about the issues they are facing. They can then signpost callers to the most appropriate support service. Some of the issues residents have raised include worries about coronavirus, relationship problems, and other concerns about their mental health. Although this is based in Stoke on Trent, residents from elsewhere in Staffordshire can still access this service.

If you feel you need someone to talk to you can call the helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 01782 234233.

SURGE IN ONLINE SHOPPING FRAUD

Reports of online shopping fraud have surged by 30% over the pandemic as many of us continue to shop online in light of current restrictions.

Figures from Action Fraud show that criminals conned 17,407 shoppers out of almost £13.5 million over the Christmas period last year, an increase of over 20% when compared to the same period in 2018.

Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online, ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers search for bargains and gifts for loved ones in the run up to Christmas.

Top tips to shop online securely this festive season:

Where to shop:
Making a purchase from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first, or ask a friend or family member if they’ve used the site and about their experiences before completing the purchase.

Your information:
Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school.

Payments:
If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, ensure that the webpage where you enter your payment details is secure (website address starts with “https”). Using a credit card to pay online also means that should the worst happen and your payment details are compromised, your main bank account won’t be directly affected.

Phishing:
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. Not all links are bad, but if you’re unsure, don’t use the link – go separately to the website. Report any suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: [email protected] You can also report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.

For more information about how to shop online securely, please visit:
actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

 

FRAUD ALERT: COURIER SCAM

Residents living in the north of the county are urged to be on their guard following a number of reports of courier fraud.

A courier scam is when fraudsters call and trick you into handing your cards and PIN numbers to a courier on your doorstep. There are many variations of the scam, but it usually follows this method:

  • A fraudster will cold call you on a landline, claiming to be from your bank or the police. They state their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card or it is due to expire and needs to be replaced.
  • In order to reassure you that they are genuine, they suggest that you hang up and ring the bank/police back straight away. However, they don’t disconnect the call from the landline so that when you dial the real phone number, you are actually still speaking to the fraudster.
  • They then ask you to read out your PIN or type it on your phone keypad. They may ask for details of other accounts you hold with the bank or financial service provider, or ask you to verify details of your last transaction.
  • Finally, they send a courier to you to collect your bank card. The fraudster will have then obtained your name, address, full bank details, card and PIN.

If you receive one of these calls end it immediately, and do not engage with anyone who calls to collect your card or PIN.

Protect yourself against courier fraud:

  • Your bank will never send a courier to your home
  • Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card
  • Your bank and the police will never ask for your PINPlease share this advice with friends or relatives who may not have access to our updates, particularly elderly parents, grand-parents, friends and neighbours.

 

FRAUD ALERT: VISHING

Fraud over the phone – or Vishing – is when a fraudster calls claiming they are from your bank or some other trusted organisation e.g. the police. It is easy for them to convince you too, since they can both fake the telephone number on the screen and do their research to find out some of your basic bank and personal details. Remember though, a genuine bank will never ask you for personal or financial details like your PIN number or full banking password (even by tapping it into your phone keypad).

Five things look out for on a scam phone call:

1. The caller doesn’t give you time to think, tries to stop you speaking to a family member or friend or is insistent and makes you feel uncomfortable.

2. The caller asks you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.

3. They phone to ask for your four-digit card PIN or your online banking password. Even if they ask you to give it to them by tapping into the telephone keypad rather than saying the numbers out loud, this is a scam.

4. They ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping.

5. They may say that you are a victim of fraud and offer to send a courier to your home to collect your cash, PIN, payment card or cheque book.

Be vigilant, do not engage in conversation, put the phone down and tell someone you trust. If you have been a victim of such a fraud and you have handed money to someone, please contact 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

FRAUD ALERT : TV PROVIDER DISCOUNT FRAUD

We have been made aware of a scam that is currently taking place around the country.  Fraudsters are cold-calling victims, claiming to be from a television provider and offering a discount on their monthly subscription.

Victims have been told the following: their subscription needs to be renewed; that part or all of the TV equipment has expired and they are due an upgrade on the equipment.

In order to falsely process the discount, the fraudster askes victims to confirm or provide their bank account details.  The scammers may also request the victim’s identification documents, such as scanned copies of passports.

The fraudsters are using the following telephone numbers: 0844 711 1444, 0203 519 0197 and 0800 151 4141.  The fraudsters’ voices are reported to sound feminine and have an Asian accent.

Later victims make enquiries and then discover that their TV service provider did not call them and that the fraudster has made transactions using the victim’s bank account details.

Since the beginning of the year there have been 300 Action Fraud reports relating to this scam.  From the reports received, victims aged over 66 seem to be the most targeted.

So far we are not aware of any such incidents in Staffordshire, but Staffordshire Police are warning people to be on their guard.  If you receive, or have received such a call, please contact Staffordshire Police on 101 and report it.