Bogus council official reported in Brueton Park area

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Solihull Trading Standards have received a report of a man claiming to be from the council or an approved council contractor knocking on peoples’ doors. The report concerned the Warwick Rd / Brueton Park area of Solihull.

Stay vigilant for callers claiming to be from the council. All council callers should present Solihull MBC IDs. If you have ANY doubts whatsoever about a caller’s identity please call the Council on 0121 704 8000.

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Be very careful who you book your winter holiday with

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Action Fraud has received multiple reports from people who have lost their money after paying for holiday accomodation on RightSki.com and ChaletHunter.com. Have a look at the below article from http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ :

‘According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) RightSki.com and ChaletHunter.com were set up by fraudsters using fake details and false information. 

The NFIB are proactively taking steps to suspend the websites and virtual phone numbers used by these fraudsters and are warning consumers that they may continue this activity and use alternative websites. Fraudsters can easily set up new pages with different names very quickly. 

Victims lost over £60k in total so far

Over a dozen victims who made reports so far state to have lost approximately £60,000 in total with the majority paying by bank transfer, where unfortunately, once money has left an account – little can be done to retrieve this. 

The NFIB is also urging any victims who have not yet reported to come forward and report to Action Fraud to assist the police.

How to protect yourself from booking a holiday that doesn’t exist:

  • Stay safe online:  Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org 
  • Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company. 
  • Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. You can verify membership of ABTA online, at http://www.abta.com
  • Pay safe: Never pay directly into an owner’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money cannot be traced and is not refundable. Where possible, pay by credit card, (or a debit card that offers protection). 
  • Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. 
  • Use your instincts: Be wary of advertisements showing accommodation at substantially lower prices than the competition.
  • Report it – victims should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040)

Puncturing 5 of the most common consumer myths…

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In the aftermath of Christmas it is especially important to know what you are entitled to if things go wrong with festive purchases. Many people are completely unaware of what their consumer rights actually are. There are 5 main myths that continue to do the rounds which people are contsantly surprised to hear are untrue. Here we have a go at exploding them:

Myth 1 – No refunds are allowed on sale items

Completely untrue unless the retailer points out a fault with the product or you should have reasonably seen the fault on on a normal inspection of the goods. Otherwise, if a product is faulty or misdescribed then your full consumer rights of rejection (if within 30 days of purchase) or repair or replacement apply IRRESPECTIVE of the price reduction.

Myth 2 – If I change my mind I am automatically entitled to a refund

If you buy a product in a shop you have NO legal right to get your money back unless the product is faulty or misdescribed. Many retailers offer voluntary return schemes but they do not HAVE to. On the other hand, when you shop online / over the telephone or where a contract is concluded away from business premises e.g at your house, then you have a legal right to change your mind and get a refund within 14 days of receiving a product.

Myth 3 – Mis-priced goods must be sold at that price

If you happen to spot something that is incorrectly priced you don’t necessarily have the right to buy it for that amount – as the price listed is legally defined as an ‘invitation to treat’ rather than a legally binding contract.

If you get to the till the retailer is within their rights to refuse to sell it to you for that price. This is also the case if you order an item online and the mistake is noticed before you have been contacted by the retailer to confirm the sale.

However, if your sale has already been accepted, you can normally insist that the retailer sells you the goods for the price at which they were advertised as you have at that point entered a contract of sale.

Myth 4 – I can’t do anything without a receipt

There is nothing in law that says a shop must give you a receipt. Shops should accept other proofs of purchase such as a bank statement or credit card bill. However, if you pay by cash it could prove rather tricky to show that you bought the goods from that shop.

Myth 5 – It’s not our fault – talk to the manufacturer

Your contract is with the person who sold you the goods and NOT the manufacturer – although there’s nothing to stop you using any manufacturer’s guarantee if you prefer.

If you have any questions on your consumer rights you can contact Citisens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

(Article content derived from http://www.which.co.uk)

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Call recording fraud alert!!

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The National Trading Standards eCrime Team have put out a warning regarding the possibility of fraud through the recent upsurge in call recording services.

Organisations offer a service whereby calls made to banks or other agencies can be accessed at a later stage in the event of a query or a dispute. The recordings can contain confidential information, such as the answers to security questions, which can be used to commit fraud, impersonation or identity theft.

Call recording companies pay search engines to appear prominently in their listings, especially when searched from a mobile phone or tablet. This can lead unsuspecting consumers to believe the contact number displayed is actually their bank. Online searches for your bank’s phone number, for example, can trigger adverts that once clicked will offer to put you through to a call recording service.

Some of these services make it clear before the call commences that they are a third party, and that the call is being recorded, but many others will inevitably not. Calls made via such services may also be charged at a far higher rate than if you contact an organisation driectly.

To listen to a piece on Call Recording Services you can visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06s87lv.

We hope you had a nice Christmas. Any ‘pressie’ issues?

CW_XYngWYAAfZTf(photo credit – Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards)

We really hope you enjoyed your break and you all got what you wanted!

Most of you will be happy with your presents but unfortunately there will always be some problems at this time of year – whether goods haven’t turned up or if they have they are faulty or not as they have been described to you.

The Citizens Advice National Consumer Helpline can help you start dealing with some of these problems. You can contact them on 03454 04 05 06.

 

Happy Christmas Everyone!

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We would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has followed us or has visited our site over the last 12 months. We appreciate all the time you have spent in reading about the events we have covered in Solihull and the wider Trading Standards world.

We will continue to offer advice and the latest news stories throughout 2016. Hopefully you will join us!

Have a great break and always remember – we are here to help!

How to have a safer electrical festive season

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Here are some tips to stay electrically safe this Christmas!

(Source: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/christmas/)

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Ho ho ho! The festive season is in full swing and homes across the UK are twinkling with fairy lights and Christmas cheer. But are you taking dangerous risks with your safety over the holidays? We’ve highlighted some common activities that may be putting you and your family in danger.

Did you know?

  • One in twelve people confess to leaving their Christmas lights on overnight, potentially endangering their households as Christmas lights can overheat and create a fire hazard
  • Over half of Brits admit to leaving their phone charger plugged in overnight. While many of us will be Skyping family abroad and charging new toys and mobile devices, it’s important to remember that overcharging can cause some adaptors to become a fire risk
  • One in four overload sockets, using extension leads and adaptors 
  • One in five households reported that they will be displaying outdoor Christmas lights this year. Always display outdoor lights safely, whether it’s a sprinkling of lights around the door or a fully lit up Santa’s Grotto in your garden 
  • Almost one in four of us admit that our relatives or in-laws irritate us the most. Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that the nation’s most popular afternoon activity is watching TV, with 43% of us revealing that we spend Christmas day on the sofa

Our top tips for enjoying a safe and happy Christmas:

  • Even Christmas lights need a break – switch off all lights when you aren’t there to enjoy them
  • Before using, check if lights are damp, damaged or have loose wires – if so, don’t take the risk. Replace them
  • Don’t remove or insert lamps when the chain is connected to the electricity supply
  • Use LED Christmas lights instead of traditional lights –  they’re more energy efficient and reduce the risk of electric shock – or get Christmas lights with an extra-low voltage transformer, which operate at a safer voltage (usually 12 – 24 volts)
  • Make sure all your outdoor lighting is specifically designed for outdoor use and connected through an RCD protected socket. (An RCD is a potentially life-saving device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock. It can also protect against some electric fires)
  • Don’t overload sockets and try to avoid the use of extension leads or adaptors – it’s easy to trip if you’re a bit too merry!
  • Don’t allow children to play with Christmas lights
  • Keep lights away from flammable decorations and other materials that can burn easily

Additional information

  • Everything you need to know about using Christmas lights safely
  • With all the extra lights and decorations being plugged in over Christmas, make sure you aren’t overloading your sockets
  • Our Safe Shopping guide will help you steer clear of counterfeit goods when shopping online
  • Avoid a counterfeit Christmas with our top tips
  • Hoverboards (also known as Swegways) are the must-have item on everyone’s Christmas list this year. We show you what to look out for
  • Our social calendars are full of Christmas parties and events! Look good and stay safe with our guide to using electrical beauty products safely

Jail for 400,000% Loan Shark

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Christopher Harvey from Caerphilly, South Wales is facing over three years in jail for a loan sharking racket where he charged members of his OWN family interest rates up to 400,000%.

Harvey pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal money lending, three charges of theft and four charges of fraud. Describing himself as the ‘patriarch’ of his family, he took money from ‘disadvantaged’ members of his extended relations and their associates over a 10 year period.

Prosecutor Timothy Evans said: “It was deliberate and sustained abuse of vulnerable members of his own family. He acted in a truly predatory way and was seen by these people as a friend….the phrase loans shark conjures up predatory creatures taking advantage of smaller fish around them. It seems an appropriate image for those who do that – prey on victims who are naïve and vulnerable. They are seen by the people they lend to as friends, and there is a cycle of further loans, further debts, and this can be a form of psychological abuse. These victims have learning difficulties, an inability to read and write, and no understanding of financial matters. Victims may be grateful and may not understand the amount of interest mounting against them. This case involves the lengthy and systematic financial abuse by Chris Harvey of members of his family and extended family.”

Illegal Money Lending Teams operate throughout the United Kingdom. If you have any information about potential loan sharks you are urged the 24 hour hotline on 0300 123 33 11.

 

Birmingham couple’s £14,824 Instagram iPhone con

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A Birmingham husband and wife conned more than 50 victims into buying non-existent iPhones and watches on Instagram.

Saqib Bashir and his wife Rimla Chaudurey made almost £14,824 by setting up a string of bogus web companies between September 2013 and April 2014.

They advertised the valuables online and simply pocketed the cash from the orders they received.

But they were arrested in January last year and later charged with fraud when angry customers called in the police.

Bashir, 27, and his 24-year-old wife, from Washwood Heath, were each handed eight-month suspended jail sentences at Birmingham Crown Court.

The court was told the pair used bogus online firms called Cosmetic Bargains, Alinas Accessories, Designer Discounts, Crystal Discounts, Designer Boutique, Designer Couture, and Beauty Boutiqu3 to dupe customers.

Bashir initially denied the offence, claiming he had never heard of Cosmetic Bargains and did not use Instagram.

He also denied being linked to bank accounts or mobile phone numbers used in the con and maintained the pair were victims of identity theft.

But when detectives provided more evidence – including proof that a web page for Cosmetic Bargains was created on their home computer – they eventually admitted fraud by false representation.

Investigating officer Matt Leach, from West Midlands Economic Crime Unit, said: “They used ten different bank accounts – one of which was linked to 23 frauds – and six Instagram accounts offering items for sale.

“Customers parted with sums ranging from £52 to £1,000.

“Many of these were birthday and Christmas presents so they are responsible for creating a lot of upset and worry among the people they deceived.”

(Source – Birmingham Mail)

Amazon theft foiled

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(Source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/amazon-van-christmas-present-thefts-10634816)

‘Five men aged between 21 and 50 have been released on police bail after an Amazon van containing 170 parcels was stolen.

The men had been arrested at 2pm on Friday, December 18, when police swooped on a property in Little Park, Quinton.

More than 170 stolen parcels that should have been on their way to customers were recovered by police in Birmingham following a tip-off from a member of the public.

The Amazon van has also now been recovered.

Officers are working with the online retailer who originally dispatched the packages to get them to where they should be going in time for Christmas.’