For News Posts alerting website Subscribers to possible local Scams.

Scam and WhatsApp privacy update

National Insurance Scam

It’s been a while since the last ‘scam’ post, but the fraudsters are still active!

One current scam is a National Insurance one, which Action Fraud says has been reported to them over 1,000 times, making it the most reported phone scam of this year so far (We had one of these phone calls this morning.) The same scam is now being sent out by email. Both phone and email use the same tactics.

They tell you that your National Insurance number has been used to fraudulently claim benefit, and ask for some personal details. They may tell you this is so you can be issued with a new NI number, or for ‘verification’, and sometimes that you’ll be liable to repay the amount claimed if you don’t give them the details they need.

Hang up the phone or ignore any links in the email and delete it.

 

WhatsApp Privacy

An issue that only affects WhatsApp users is a recent change to their default security settings. It was explained in their updated conditions of use, and I expect most of us just clicked accept without reading the whole document. The new default setting for WhatsApp is that everyone can find you and see your details – this includes businesses as well as individuals. If you wish to restrict who can see you:

  1. Click Settings in WhatsApp
  2. Click Account
  3. Click Privacy This takes you to a list:  Last Seen, Profile Photo etc.
  4. Against each item on the list you’ll see one out of these three settings: Everybody/My Contacts/Nobody
  5. Click the little arrow to the right of the setting and choose which of the three levels of privacy you prefer.

Remember that WhatsApp only recognises mobile numbers in international format e.g +44 7974 1****6, so you may need to change some of the numbers in your contacts to include the appropriate international code.

 

 

Scam alert – phone call from “the police”

An attempted phone scam has just been reported in the village. The caller claimed to be from Bristol CID and to have arrested someone with a large quantity of money on them.

These phone fraudsters are very persuasive, passing the call to their “inspector”, mentioning banks and credit cards and saying you have to act quickly. They then ask your help to catch the suspect’s accomplices – this involves you going to your bank and taking out a large amount of cash, which the “police” will then come and check for forged notes. They may also tell you not to talk to anyone about this or it could undermine their case.

The scammers may ask you to hang up, then call back to verify that they really are the police. When you hang up, they stay on the line then “answer” your new call. Therefore it’s important that you make any call to the police or to your bank to verify their story from a different phone line and use a number for the police or bank which you know is a genuine one.

Fortunately, our neighbour was very suspicious of this call, so hung up and reported it.

Remember:

  • it’s possible to ‘spoof’ phone numbers so it appears that scammers are calling from a genuine police number
  • don’t give details like your credit card number and PIN over the phone to anyone unless you are absolutely certain you know who they are

Fuller details can be found here: https://www.herts.police.uk/Information-and-services/Advice/Crime-prevention/Protect-your-money/Scam-police-and-bank-callers  

Fake Meter Reader ALERT

There are reliable reports of a fake meter reader recently active in Dinder and Westbury-sub-Mendip.

The man is calling on elderly people, persuading them to let him into the house, going into every room pretending not to know where the meter is.

The police have said this is the same man who struck in a house in Coxley two weeks ago with two 92-year-old sisters living together.

White British man, with local Somerset accent.
Average height average build.
White Transit-type van, with red letters on the side.

Please make sure all relatives of any age are informed in the Wells area.

COVID vaccine scams – a reminder

 

Criminals are using the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to target the public by tricking them to hand over cash or financial details.

Fraudsters send convincing-looking email and text messages telling people they are eligible for the vaccine or phone people and pretend to be from the NHS or a local pharmacy.

Remember that the NHS will:

  • NEVER ask for payment – the vaccine is free
  • NEVER ask for your bank details
  • NEVER arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • NEVER ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport

Click on the green link below for a 2-page poster with useful advice on how to spot a fake vaccination message

poster-guide-be-alert-to-vaccine-fraud

Unsolicited phone calls and ways to block them

Roof Insulation Cold Call

A villager recently received an unsolicited phone call from Energy Guard Insulation Ltd. in Bournemouth. They called from 02045 122040, but may also use other numbers.

The salesman offered a free survey to check roof insulation “…tomorrow while we are in the area … as recommended by the Energy Saving Trust.”

Signs that the call was likely to be dubious included:

  • Use of “tomorrow” to push you into making a quick decision
  • Mention of the Energy Saving Trust to give the call believability
  • Use of 02045 code – sometimes used by businesses to disguise their whereabouts

Companies House list Energy Guard as “Active proposal to strike off” which is another danger sign.

Energy Guard install spray-on insulation, which Which? reports as not suitable for many homes:

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/insulation/article/spray-foam-insulation-ajTlp7t5K7lT

Energy Guard are linked to Apex Smart Secure Ltd who supply alarm systems, so may use the same cold calling techniques.

 

How To Block Nuisance Calls

The Which? website includes useful guidance on a number of different ways you can block unwanted callers on landlines and mobiles.

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/cordless-phones/article/how-to-block-nuisance-calls

 

 

 

Scams – fake vaccine text message & how to check a phone number

COVID 19 vaccine text

Scammers are taking advantage of the COVD vaccine rollout to send ‘phishing’ texts.

One example of this reads:

‘We have identified that your are eligible to apply for your vaccine’ and then prompts you to click on a link for further information or to ‘apply’ for the vaccine. If you click on the link, it takes you to a very convincing fake NHS website which asks for your bank details.

There are also reports of phone calls which ask for your bank details to pay for the vaccine, which is of course provided free by the NHS.

Remember:

The NHS will never ask for your bank details

Spelling and grammar mistakes are often signs of a scam

See: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-COVID fraud texts

         devonsomersettradingstandards.gov.uk/ fake-texts-covid-19-vaccine/

Who Called Me?

If you think a phone call or text might be a scam, you can check UK landline and mobile numbers using the Who Called Me? website  https://who-called.co.uk/

The site classifies numbers from Unknown to Dangerous using reports from members of the public.

Here’s an example of what you’ll see when you enter a number https://who-called.co.uk/Number/01512162712

 

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 30.12.2020

 

For all previous Parish Council Coronavirus updates please select the Covid-19 Category on the News Page of the Westbury Website  https://westburysubmendip-pc.gov.uk/category/covid-19/

 

Covid-19 Restrictions.

Somerset, along with most of the country, has now been placed in tier 4, the highest level of alert; it applies from one minute past midnight tonight.  The latest press release announcing these changes and explaining why the decision was taken is here.

In tier 4 the overall message is ‘stay at home if you possibly can’.

“In a Tier 4 area, you ….cannot leave or be outside of the place you are living unless you have a reasonable excuse. You cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas and New Year period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household [and only if you are on your own]”.

Reasonable excuses for leaving home include

  • Work, paid or voluntary
  • To obtain medicines or food (including take-aways)
  • Education
  • Individual exercise
  • Medical appointments

The full details of the tier 4 restrictions can be found here.

NHS vaccine scam

We don’t plan to report on every new scam that appears but Andrew Buchanan has alerted us to one that appears rather convincing and builds on the relief we are all feeling at the availability of effective vaccines.   Please look at the details here

https://conversation.which.co.uk/scams/scam-nhs-covid-vaccine-text-message/

and be very cautious about any unsolicited message that asks for personal or financial details.

Sue Reece (870618)   Mick Fletcher (870531)   on behalf of the Parish Council

 

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 28.12.2020

 

For all previous Parish Council Coronavirus updates please select the Covid-19 Category on the News Page of the Westbury Website  https://westburysubmendip-pc.gov.uk/category/covid-19/

 

Covid-19 Restrictions.

Since our last update we have been moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 as the level of infections in Somerset has continued to rise. The government intend to review the position on 30th December when it is possible that further changes will be announced.  A quick summary of the main differences between tiers 2 and 3 is given below.  Those who want the full detail can look here.

Testing and self-isolation

Testing and social distancing remain key to controlling the spread of the virus until such time as a large proportion of the population have been vaccinated. Somerset County Council have some useful guidance on who should get tested and when people should self-isolate here.

You may find this poster  helpful in explaining how and when to get tested and why it matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping safe in cyberspace.

As people start to think about new year resolutions Andrew Buchanan, who helps us  avoid on-line scams, suggests that it would be a good idea to focus on your online security to make sure you’re safe in 2021.

 

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre suggests six things you can do:

  1. Use a strong and separate password for your email
  2. Create strong passwords using three random words
  3. Save your passwords in your browser
  4. Turn on two-factor authentication
  5. Update the software on your devices
  6. Back up your data

You’ll find the details and instructions here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/home

 

Sue Reece (870618)   Mick Fletcher (870531)   on behalf of the Parish Council

 

SCAMS – sources of useful information

The number of scams going around appears to be fairly high at the moment, so here are two reliable sources of information that will help you to avoid being taken in.

Which? offers free scam alert updates by email

“Which? cuts through the noise to find the facts. From dodgy coronavirus phishing emails to phoney automated HMRC calls, we’ve heard them all. Our emails will alert you to scams doing the rounds, and provide practical advice to help keep you one step ahead of the fraudsters.”

To sign up for these email alerts, visit this page: https://whichcouk.bsd.net/page/s/which-scam-alerts.

 

 

This page on the Metropolitan Police website has lots of information about different types of scam and about how to stay secure online.

https://www.met.police.uk/police-forces/metropolitan-police/areas/campaigns/2019/little-guide-preventing-fraud/

At the bottom of the page are links to a number of downloadable booklets which explain scams in fairly simple language and provide useful advice on what the danger signs are.

 

The same Met Police page also includes a number of short videos explaining various types of fraud, plus password and WiFi security loopholes and how to close them.

The animated videos are each about two minutes thirty seconds long, and cover:

  • Password security;
  • Phishing scams;
  • Online ID security;
  • Software updates;
  • WiFi security;
  • Online Shopping Safety;
  • Payment Fraud;
  • Romance Fraud;
  • Impersonation Fraud.

If you’re not sure about a possible scam, or spot a new one, please let us know using the Leave a Reply option at the bottom of this page.

Scam warnings – genuine or hoax?

Recently we’ve seen a couple of warnings about delivery scams which people were sent by friends. One is genuine, the other a hoax, and yet they look fairly similar.

PDS                                                                                   DPD

Because it’s been sent to you by a friend, you can’t do the usual checks on the email address, weblinks, spelling and use of language. So how do you tell if a warning like this is real?

The first step is to check with the ActionFraud website:  www.actionfraud.police.uk You’ll find the banner below at the top of their page – click the magnifying glass symbol at the right-hand end to start a search.

If your search doesn’t show anything relevant, try one or more of the following to see what comes up:

  • Google search
  • Company website – if a company’s name is mentioned in the message
  • Snopes https://www.snopes.com/ – also useful for debunking conspiracy theories and urban myths
  • HoaxSlayer https://www.hoax-slayer.net/
  • If you’re still not sure, put a message in the Leave a Reply section below one of the Scam Alerts posts on the village website. We can then check and let you know what we find.

The DPD one is a genuine warning. and is on their company website:   https://www.dpd.co.uk/content/about_dpd/phishing.jsp

The PDS one is the hoax, an old one that’s been going around for 14 years.  The apparent endorsement by Royal Mail & Trading Standards Office is a clue – people use these to give their messages credibility. Another clue is that hoaxes often ask you to circulate to all your friends. Here is the ActionFraud page about it:   https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/hoax-email-from-pds-parcel-delivery-service

In fact, this was a genuine scam back in 2005, but because people reported it, it was stopped in early 2006 by the authorities. However, the warning is still being circulated by well-intentioned friends.

 

Does it matter if I circulate a hoax? There’s certainly the danger of ‘crying wolf’, so your friends might not take a genuine scam seriously. You’re also cluttering up their inboxes and social media feeds, and potentially making them worry unnecessarily.