Fed up of cold calls? Look out for people trying to ‘help’ you

TPS88

Solihull Trading Standards have recently seen several cases of residents agreeing to sign up with companies who claim to be able to reduce the numbers of cold calls they receive. The prices for these ‘services’ are usually high and often completely ineffective.

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS)  is a central opt out register whereby individuals can register their wish not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls. It is a legal requirement that companies do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS. Registering your number with the service is FREE. The TPS only covers UK companies i.e not foreign call centres but can considerably reduce the volume of unwanted calls you receive.

The TPS can be visited at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html or by contacting 0845 070 0707.

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Going on holiday? Look out for copycat passport renewals

British Passport with Microchip

Holidaymakers looking to renew passports are being warned about so-called ‘copycat’ websites, which charge extra fees.

Solihull Trading Standards continue to see cases where consumers end up paying over the odds for services you can get at official government websites for a fraction of the cost (if not free).

Keep an eye out. These sites can look very convincing.

http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2015-03-04/warning-over-copycat-passport-renewal-websites/

Parcel scam alert

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The scammers continue in their sordid efforts to steal our hard earned cash.

An alert has been issued by Kent Trading Standards regarding scam ‘parcel claim notices.’ Once you call the telephone number listed on your calling card, the scammers will ask you for a payment in order to re-schedule the delivery.

Help us STOP these conment by reporting any scams to Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

Trading Standards are hunting down the Loan Sharks

Quigley

It is a criminal offence under The Consumer Credit Act 1974 for a trader to offer credit facilities to consumers without an appopriate concumer credit license provided by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

A specialist national Trading Standards unit called the Illegal Money Lending team (IMLT) has revealed that borrowers were paying at leat £700 million a year to unscrupulous, often violent ‘lenders.’ This figure is equivalent to a third of the legitimate short-term payday loan sector market of around £2.2 billion.

The IMLT has investigated and prosecuted scores of loan sharks over the last few years. Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, is pictured above with some of the ‘tools of the trade’ the criminals use to enforce the debts owed to the. The interest rates of these ‘loans’ are predictably astronomical and victims become embroiled in an ever increasing nightmare of unmanageable debt. The situation can become so bad that Mr Quigley believes that the team has, ‘stopped 25 suicides, from what victims have told us.’

Many people imagine loan sharks as small time crooks making small amounts of money from their crime. However, one convicted loan shark, Joseph Kiely, made £3.6 million from illegal loans to about 1,200 people in Manchester. The IMLT often see such large scale, organised criminality.

You can read the full article here:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/24/sixty-victims-loan-shark-witness-protection-illegal-moneylending

If you have any concerns about yourself or someone known to you in relation to loan sharks call the 24 hour hotline on 0300 555 2222.

How to stay clear of pension scams

pension

We have seen pensions mentioned a lot in the news recently. New legislation is due to come in April which will free up access to their pensions.

However, as with so many other areas in life, the scammers are out to cheat you out of your hard earned cash. Last year it is estimated that half a billion pounds was lost to con men. Here is a guide to stay ahead of the criminals:

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/individuals/dangers-of-pension-scams.aspx#s8035

The new Consumer Rights Act is now law. Know your rights

kyr2

The Consumer Rights Act received royal assent on Thursday 26 March 2015. The new law aims to consolidate numerous pieces of consumer law under one piece of legislation.

One of the new provisions that has been introduced is that you now have up to 30 days to ‘reject’ a faulty or misdescribed item and claim a full refund. Up until now there was the nebulous ‘reasonable’ time period governing refunds and the new law aims to provide more clarity on your rights.

The legislation can be found here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2014-2015/0064/lbill_2014-20150064_en_3.htm#pt1-ch2-pb3-l1g22

If you need advice on your civil rights please call the Citizens Advice national helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

The borough of Solihull covers more than you think

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Many people are unaware that Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre (the largest in the UK) are both based within the boundary of Solihull MBC and, therefore, covered by Solihull Trading Standards.

We have worked closely with both organisations for years.

We have attended numerous exhibitions, shows and concerts at the NEC and worked alongside West Midlands Police in identifying breaches of safety, copyright or general trading legislation.

We are responsible for the annual testing of the baggage weighers at Birmingham Airport to ensure accuracy and fairness. We also are currently developing a strong working relationship with UK Border Force in identifying incoming shipments of goods that may contravene European safety legislation and potentially pose a risk to the public.

We will continue to do our best to ensure a safe and fair trading establishment at all trading establishments in Solihull.

Cannock man guilty in unsafe chair lift scam

stairlift

Warwickshire Trading Standards have successfully prosecuted Paul Nicholson of Classic Stairlifts Ltd for installing stair lifts that he claimed were brand new but were, in fact, pieced together from second hand parts (some of which were over 15 years old). Nicholson received a suspended prison sentence and was ordered to pay fines totalling £8,195. The story can be found here:

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/cannock-businessman-handed-suspended-jail-8918692

If you suspect criminal trading activity in Solihull please contact us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

The more sun, the more knocks at your door

Brueton

As the sun starts to show its face, unfortunately the con men do too. We are already getting more reports of people receiving knocks at their door from ‘traders’ offering the latest, cheapest deal for home ‘improvements.’ We always advise NOT to buy at the door before looking further into any work that is claimed is needed. Not all door to door visitors are scammers and if they are not they will not mind waiting for you to do a little research.

Always remember legitimate door step callers must give you WRITTEN 14-day cancellation rights in which you can change your mind. If they do not they have comitted a CRIMINAL offence and we would like to know about it.

We are here to help. If you have any information on suspected rogue traders operating in Solihull please call us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

Beware of fake ‘official’ e-mails!!

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One thing you can be certain of is that the scammers are always thinking up new ways to get your money.

Kent Trading Standards recently report that members of the public have received an e-mail message telling them to attend a district court – even though there is no such thing in England!! An attachment to the email is believed to contain malware which would infect the computer with a virus. See the full article here:

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/warning-against-fraudulent-court-email-33579/

There have also been reports of e-mails pretending to be from the DVLA.

NEVER open attachments on any suspicious emails or provide confidential information. People should look at the FULL elongated email address and if at all concerned make enquiries via the LEGITIMATE contact details for the claimed institution on their official website.

Suspected scams can be reported to Action Fraud by contacting 0300 123 2040.