Fancy some rat poo in your cigarette?

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The price of counterfeit cigarettes or tobacco can seem attractive. Why pay more for genuine products when you can get fakes at half the price? Well, we can give you a number of reasons why not, demonstrated by a seizure of countrefeit tobacco last year in Conwy, North Wales. How about your ‘cheap’ cigarettes containing rat poison, rat waste, blood, plastics, and human waste products?!! See the article here:

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/rat-poo-found-cigarettes-tobacco-7713389

Counterfeit tobacco can be very harmful to you as well as funding the activities of large crime syndicates. If you suspect that fake tobacco is being sold in Solihull please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

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Looking for a job? Don’t let the scammers get you

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(Picture Credit – http://www.jobvine.co.za/)

We all know that scammers will try to infiltrate EVERY possible area of life to steal your money. Who knows what nefarious meetings they have to discuss their new ‘project.’

Scam artists are acting like an employment agency and tricking job seekers into sharing their personal information. A jobseeker will receive a phone call or email from a business that is supposedly an employment agency and looking out for your interests (If only!). One person reported allegedly receiving numerous calls from unknown numbers after talking to one of the scam company’s ‘representatives.’

It is a stark and unpalatable fact of modern life that you cannot trust ANYONE who calls you out of the blue. Information is power in the world we live in and it is vital that you do not let people who will abuse that information have any access to it whatsoever.

Out in Solihull with WM Police speaking to firework sellers

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Over the last few nights we have been out and about in Solihull speaking to the owners of shops who sell fireworks to the public. We have advised on policies in place ensuring that fireworks are NOT sold to under 18s, safe storage and clear displays. Have a safe bonfire night and enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!

90% of small retailers fully compliant with tobacco display ban

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We are sure you have noticed how tobacco and cigarettes are now hidden behind screen doors these days.

See the below article from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – (http://www.tradingstandards.uk/extra/news-item.cfm/newsid/1834) on how the new display rules have gone:

Small businesses are complying with new legislation aimed at preventing children from taking up smoking, according to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) report published today (29 October).
Almost 90% of smaller retailers were fully compliant while practically all made some effort to comply with the laws that ban tobacco displays and require a standardised price list.
Critics had argued that April’s roll out of the tobacco advertising regulations, implemented in larger stores in 2012, would be too costly for smaller retailers in terms of installation and lost revenue.
Melissa Dring, director of policy at CTSI, said that the encouraging compliance rates showed retailers are ready to move with the times.
She said: “Smoking is killing about 81,400 people each year in England and children who are exposed to in-store tobacco marketing are more likely to start this deadly and debilitating habit.
“With two-thirds of smokers starting as children it is vital that we do everything we can to discourage them from developing a habit that places a huge burden on the NHS.
“Removing tobacco products from sight discourages young people from buying tobacco and businesses that fail to do so are breaking the law and could face legal action.”
Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister said: “Smoking is the biggest preventable killer in England, claiming around 80,000 lives each year.
“The display ban is part of a package of measures aimed at preventing young people from starting smoking and supporting adults who are trying to quit.
“I am encouraged to see high levels of compliance with the display ban amongst retailers across the country, which is helping to protect people from the harmful effects of smoking.”
The Rapid Review on Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Regulations Compliance by Small Businesses was commissioned by the Department of Health’s tobacco policy team.
It saw local trading standards services across nine regions in England visit 592 smaller retailers, at random, over eight weeks in July and August this year.
The eastern region recorded the highest returns on display compliance (93%) compared with the midlands and the north-east which scored the lowest (84%). 
Pricing regulation compliance was lower across the board and at its lowest in the north-east (73%) and highest in the south-east (95%). 
Examples of non-compliance included: display doors being left open; stores unaware of pricing regulations; as well as see-through curtains and ill-fitting blinds covering displays.
Trading standards services provided advice and guidance to those businesses that failed to meet the required standards.
Retailers who flout the new regulations may face unlimited fines or six months in prison.
The overall compliance rate is lower than that of CTSI’s 2013 review into large businesses where 98% of retailers complied with legislation on displays and 93% met pricing obligations.

Watch out! Halloween contact lenses could be scarier than you think….

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(Picture credit : http://www.allaboutvision.com/whatsnew/contacts.htm)

People who wear cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween, after they were made popular by TV programmes such as Vampire Diaries and Twilight, could be putting their sight at risk, experts warn.

Take a look at the article below and stay scary but safe this Halloween:

http://www.tradingstandards.uk/extra/news-item.cfm/newsid/1830

Over three quarters of UK universities breach consumer law

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A shocking 76% of UK universities have breached consumer law by failing to provide vital information to prospective students, according to Which? research.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice in March 2015 setting out how students can accurately compare courses when choosing where to study. This advice was formulated to specifically outline how consumer law applies to higher education establishments.

Course prospectuses were missing information such as up-to-date fee information, the number or contact hours or expected workload.

More information on the research can be found here:

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2015/10/three-quarters-of-universities-breach-consumer-law-419853/

Do you realise how FAR scam victims can fall into the criminals’ traps?

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The above photo represents ONE elderly victim’s scam mail. The 87-year-old woman from East Sussex lost £90,000 after criminal gangs sent her endless fraudulent letters following the death of her husband.

The photo was taken by her local police force to reveal the startling extent of the volume of letters that come through letter boxes once a victim responds with money. See the full article here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2582573/Shocking-photo-reveals-scam-mail-costing-Britains-elderly-millions.html

One of the most concerning areas of crime seen by Solihull Trading Standards is the prevalence of elderly, vulnerable victims being incessantly and mercilessly pursued by fraudsters. A recent sad example saw a Solihull resident lose £30,000 in buying useless land that was sold as an investment, £10,000 on ‘diamonds’ and £25-30,000 in ‘fine wine’ investments.

Once a victim hands over money to one of these companies they will  be hounded by criminal after criminal for more and more. We want to STOP these heartless thieves. If you are concerned about yourself or someone else in Solihull please contact us on 03454 04 05 06. We are here to help.

New ‘Parking Spaces near Airports’ Investment Scam

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See the below press release from:

http://www.tradingstandards.uk/extra/news-item.cfm/newsid/1827

Emerging trend in investment scams involving parking spaces

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a trend in consumers being targeted for investment opportunities in parking spaces at locations close to major airports.

A new commodity is being offered as an investment to members of the public. This new commodity is parking spaces. The method used by those selling the parking spaces is very similar to that used by businesses selling unregulated investments including diamonds, wine and carbon credits.

Common features include:

  • Members of the public receiving unsolicited calls from forceful sales people offering an opportunity to invest in parking spaces or promoting it as a “sound pension investment”.
  • Verbal and written promises of a guaranteed and questionable high rate of return. A buy-back scheme is also offered but there is absolutely no guarantee of an onward sale (as previously experienced by consumers involved in time share properties, for example).

Members of the public should be aware of the following

  • Some consumers may receive an attractive initial dividend payout but there is no guarantee of long term future dividends and the investment may result in long term financial loss.  It is suspected that in some cases the initial dividends are paid out from the investments of subsequent investors, which is similar to a Ponzi scheme.
  • Post investment, the consumer may find it difficult to contact the investment company to discuss their investment or reap any financial returns.
  • The cold callers may be acting as estate agents and seeking to sell parking spaces owned by another. If the company offering the investment is not a registered estate agent then caution is advised.
  • Advice from consumer bodies is to never enter into an agreement as the result of a cold call or unsolicited mail
  • If you are thinking of making a financial investment, seek independent advice from someone who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. You should also be aware that if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong. Check the FCA website for details of those advisors who are regulated.
  • If you feel that you have been mis-sold a financial product, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040or by using the online reporting tool.

The NFIB are working in close partnership with the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, National Trading Standards, City of London Police and the National Crime Agency to clamp down on investment scams.

Safety warning issued after fireworks being sold on social media

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Trading Standards have warned people about the dangers of buying fireworks on social media sites after a significant quantity were seized from a residential property in the Scarborough area.

The safety of fireworks is regulated and any firework sold to the public in the UK must meet the European safety standard and be sold by a registered seller. Counterfeit and unsafe fireworks, often with instructions in a foreign language, are imported into the UK and, because of the checks that are carried out at wholesalers and hight street retailers, these are likely to end up being sold through social media or at car boot sales and in pubs.

The unregistered sellers who store fireworks at residential properties jeopardise not only their customers but themselves as they risk a serious fire incident and are likely to invalidate their house insurance.

If you know of any unregistered firework sellers operating in Solihull please call us on 03454 04 05 06.