Scam BT call

It maybe a new year but the scammers obviously haven’t made any new resolutions to stop ripping people off.

A recent case involved a cold caller claiming to be from BT. The victim was told that he was about to be disconnected because of an unpaid bill.

The caller then demanded an immediate payment of £31, saying that the cost would rise to £118 for reconnection at a later date.

Despite having an obviously foreign accent, the scammer claimed the very English name John Peacock and when questioned said he could “prove” he was from BT by cutting off the targeted victim’s phone.

He apparently did this, and then rang again asking for an immediate credit card payment, but when told that his victim had no intention of paying, he hung up.

A subsequent call to the police revealed that the caller had appeared to cut off the phone line by simply staying on the line but turning it to mute, which meant that the line was engaged and his proposed victim could not dial out.



Top 5 Scams to look out for in 2016


Solihull Trading Standards’ continued goal is to stop the scammers getting hold of your hard earned cash. Here are some likely scams you want to avoid in 2016:

(article taken from

Top five scams to look out for in 2016Leading fraud experts identify up-and-coming scams in 2016

02 January 2016


Ahead of the new year we spoke to Trading Standards and other leading fraud experts to identify the up-and-coming scams for 2016.

Perpetrators of scams are criminals who are very convincing in their fraudulent tactics.

At the start of 2015, a Which? survey found that 54% of respondents had been personally exposed to a scam in the past two years, or have a friend or family member who had.

We’ve worked together with leading fraud experts to tell you what you need to know to avoid being caught by five scams – all identified as growing threats in 2016.

We’ve also produced a number of guides and advice on the latest scams.

1. Criminals selling dodgy products on social media

According to the latest Intellectual Property Crime Report, social media has overtaken auction sites as the criminal ‘channel-of-choice’ for counterfeit and piracy activity.

The growing concern is that the fraudulent sale of high-cost items, such as electrical goods and clocked cars, could potentially put lives at risk.

The old adage that ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ always applies.

2. Telephone Preference Service scams

Trading Standards has seen a rise in cold-callers claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service.

They then charge you for registration or useless call-blocking devices.

The Telephone Preference Service is the only service that all organisations are legally required to screen calls against – and it’s free.

3. Loan sharks

The increasing threat of loan sharks has been identified by the Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team, which it says stems from the combined effect of the introduction of the Universal Credit single benefit and the cap on payday loans.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with debt, our Dealing with Debt guide contains straightforward tips, plus contact details for free debt advice.

4. Investment scams

Criminals have been quick to seize the opportunity to take advantage changes to pensions that came into effect in April 2015, and reports of scams are increasing.

Phrases such as ‘one-off investment’ and ‘free pension review’, as well as promises to access to your pension before 55, should ring alarm bells.

They’ll often approach you out of the blue – either by phone, text or in person. Don’t be tempted, as they’re lying.

5. Scam ticket sites

Unauthorised sellers selling counterfeit or duplicate tickets for concerts, festivals and sports events are a growing problem that was highlighted in the run up to Rugby World Cup 2015.

When dealing with ticket seller you’re not sure of, check websites that aggregate reviews such as Trustpilot or Feefo.

But look out for repetition among the reviews – this is a red flag that reviews aren’t authentic. As is any company that doesn’t have a regularly updated Facebook and Twitter presence.

‘Firefighter’ selling fire extinguishers door to door

fire extingtuisher

Solihull Trading Standards have received a report from a resident on Sharmans Cross Road about a door to door fire extinguisher sales woman.

The incident took place at 7pm yestersday (Tuesday 05th January). The caller is described as an asian female in her 20s with long dark hair. She claimed to be a ‘firefighter’ when the resident asked who was at the door.

West Midlands Fire Service do NOT sell fire extinguishers door to door and if someone claims they are operating on their behalf then it is NOT true.

If you have any more information about this or any potential rogue trader please contact us on 03454 04 05 06.

Hoverboard fires continue…

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We have reported all too often on the risks associated with unsafe hoverboards. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service have now released these photos of counterfeit hoverboards – which have caused fires in homes over Christmas.

Unsafe imports, notably from China, continue to flood the market and threaten damage to life and home. Over the last few months we have seized numerous consignments coming through Birmingham Airport which are just not safe for everyday use.

See this video for what to look out for when buying a hoverboard:


Warning issued over personal breathalyzers


A Scottish Trading Standards authority has revealed worrying discrepancies in the readings delivered by personal breathalyzers.

South Ayrshire Council tested a variety of products freely available on the internet or at retailers. Devices can range from £6 to £70. The disturbing results revealed a range of alcohol concentration from less than half the correct reading to more than double the correct reading.

See the article below for more information:!Council-warns-drivers-to-avoid-personal-breathalysers-as-they-can-be-inaccurate/qrzdl/567975f80cf203da56e857a5

Holidaymakers urged to stay “h’APP’y” on winter city breaks


(Article from

Any seasoned traveller knows that they need to be able to stay cool and express their consumer rights even when they’re on holiday. So to help the tens of thousands of UK consumers who take winter city breaks in Europe every year, consumer advice organisation UK ECC is urging holidaymakers to make sure they use something called the Travel App.
You may think that you’ve got the perfect holiday lined up; your perfect holiday companion, your perfect destination, your perfect price, but would you know what to do it your holiday went wrong?
Developed by European Consumer Centre Network (of which the UK ECC is part), the Travel App instantly gives travellers a helping hand if they find themselves in a sticky ‘consumer rights’ situation. It provides all the necessary legal information in their own language and comes up with the best possible arguments to handle their specific situation.
Andy Allen, UK ECC Director, said: “There are lots of difficult situations any traveller may encounter during a journey abroad: picking up a rental car that is more expensive than agreed, finding out that a hotel room booked from home is unavailable, buying an item that becomes defective shortly afterwards – we’ve seen it all happen, haven’t we?
“People need to be able to express their rights in any European language when they’re on holiday. The new free mobile ECC-Net: Travel App is there to instantly gives travellers a helping hand and take some of the stress out of the situation.”
The ECC-Net: Travel App helps consumers know and express their consumer rights in 25 European languages*.
Andy added: “This app has been developed as an ideal travel companion inside the EU as well as Iceland and Norway. It is a pocket version of an all-in-one legal counsellor and personal interpreter. It is designed to support travellers in almost any awkward situation which might arise when they’re on holidays in Europe. 
“Not only will UK consumers be able to discover their consumer rights in specific situations, they will also be able to express them easily and confidently. It’s easy to download, easy to use, it works offline and it’s free. All UK consumers need to do is to remember to download it now before going on holiday.”
How does the app work?
After selecting the country and the type of situation (travel, car rental, hotel…), the app will not only specify a traveller’s consumer rights but it will also help the consumer to be able to present those rights in the chosen language. 
Good to know: the new “Help” section offers relevant phone numbers and contacts details of every local European Consumer Centre as well as local embassies for any emergencies. 

Travel app QR Code

The ECC-Net: Travel app is available for mobile devices with iOS, Android and Microsoft Windows operating systems and it can be downloaded in the Apple app store (for iOS), in the Google Playstore (for Android) and in the Windows Apps+GamesStore (for Windows Phone). The application works offline to avoid roaming fees. The App is also downloadable through this QR-Code
There is a European Consumer Centre in every EU member state as well as in Norway and Iceland offering free consumer help and advice. The ECC-Net Travel application is an initiative of the whole network.
*Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish.
UK consumers can use the advice and support of the UK European Consumer Centre if they have a dispute with a trader based in an EU country outside the UK – 01268 886690 between 10am and 3pm or
The UK ECC’s aim is to help as many UK consumers as possible who encounter problems with a trader based in Europe, to achieve a resolution: a replacement, repair, refund or cancellation of their contract.
DATE: Monday 4 January 2016


Fancy some nail polish remover or anti-freeze in your booze this year?


We hope you all had a good New Year.

No doubt many of you had some alcohol to help celebrate the festive period and the advent of 2016. We take it for granted that the booze we buy in shops or in bars is perfectly safe and never really give it a thought that unscrupulous traders out there are putting our health seriously at risk by peddling noxious concoctions of chemicals.

However, many Trading Standards authorities across the country have reported a spike in seizures of counterfeit alcohol over the last few months with thousands of litres of bogus booze have being confiscated across the UK.

The fake vodka contained lethal cocktails of chemicals such as antifreeze products, lotions and cosmetics which can lead to dizziness, vomiting, numbing of the sensations, blindness and coma.

Other substances found in fake bottles of spirits include ‘ethyl acetate’ – normally found in glues, nail polish removers and cigarettes which causes organ damage.

Acetaldehyde, another industrial compound, is also potentially cancerous if found in too high a volume.

People being served vodka in pubs and clubs should check the smell – fake vodka will often smell of nail varnish.

In December a Middlesbrough nightclub owner was given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay more than £4,000 in fines and costs for selling counterfeit vodka.

In November the owner of two bars in Consett, Durham, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs after selling fake vodka. Trading Standards also seized more than 300 bottles of the counterfeit alcohol which was found to be made from industrial alcohol unfit for human consumption.

Over 130,000 litres of counterfeit vodka worth around £1.7m was seized from a factory in Wigan while bottles of fake vodka containing chloroform were seized from an Colchester shop.

If you have any information of illegal alcohol being sold in Solihull please contact us via 03454 04 05 06.


Bogus council official reported in Brueton Park area


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.

Be very careful who you book your winter holiday with


Action Fraud has received multiple reports from people who have lost their money after paying for holiday accomodation on and Have a look at the below article from :

‘According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and 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 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
  • 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…


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