Councils have warned pensioners to be on their guard for potential telephone scams. Whatever your age, you should always be on guard.
The particular scam that has been heard in recent weeks involves a recorded phone message claiming to offer cash awards linked to pensions with the person being invited to press buttons to access a payout of £1,000. It then tricks the person into providing personal information including their bank details.
Public Protection gives advice to those concerned they may be the victim of a scam. They should always be wary of unsolicited callers and should never give out personal details over the phone unless to a trusted source. If faced with a persistent caller always end the call. Never be hurried into making quick decisions about making payments and do not reply to unsolicited texts. Any more advice you would give to those concerned about such scams?
Have you ever had any spam texts? Assuming you have a mobile phone, you surely will have done. I get them at a rate of several a week and I hate them.
A new study by the mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile says that 61% of the population have received a mobile spam text – I’m surprised the figure isn’t higher – and 22% of them have replied to “stop” messages which has resulted in them receiving unwanted phone calls or even having had money charged to their phone bill.
The study found that consumers don’t generally report discrepancies on their bill unless it is for £5 or more and therefore mobile scammers could be raking in on average £20m in profits a month from unsuspecting customers. So, what is extremely annoying can, if left unchecked, turn to fraud. Better mobile controls can help reduce the number of nuisance calls or spam texts received. So, do you check your phone bill thoroughly? It can be hard given the amounts listed but it pays to have a good look so make sure you do.
The Electoral Commission is looking into the problems of electoral fraud which has been identified in the last few elections, general and local, and is looking specifically at whether voters should come to the polling booth with identification in the future.
The Metropolitan Police are already looking into the allegations of fraud in Tower Hamlets in London and other investigations can’t be ruled out. The government is to introduce individual electoral registration in an attempt to deter fraudsters but other measures may well prove to be necessary and with the last general election and possibly the next in 2015 very tight, surely the government should be looking now at what can be done to minimise the risks of criminal activity.
Obviously there are differences in terms of voters who turn up in person at the polling booth and those who don’t and there is greater concern about postal votes which have become much more common in recent years and with this sort of vote, of course there are greater opportunities for fraudulent activity to take place.
What more can be done to prevent this type of fraud? I’m especially concerned about postal vote fraud: what can be done to eradicate this? I’d like to hear your suggestions.
People in Northumberland have been warned about the dangers of fraudsters who are making money from phoning up people to claim they have discovered faults on their computer.
It’s been a problem in the area before and may be used in other parts of the country so beware! The fraudsters cold call people and say they have been made aware of a problem with their computer by way of the computer’s operating system and they offer to repair it but obviously try, along the way, to get hold of passwords etc and make their way into bank and savings accounts.
So, whether you are from Northumberland or another part of the UK, take care and even if they appear to be genuine, don’t divulge any personal information by phone or email.
The consumer organisation Which? is giving consumers tips on how to stay one step ahead of fraudsters.
It says the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is, still applies today and those suspicious or in any doubt, should always double-check who they are dealing with before giving away any personal information. One notable recent development has seen fraudsters claim to be from a company specialising in assisting people who may have been mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).
They ask for personal information from the customer on the grounds they will then use it to help them get the compensation they are owed. Other scams involve making credit card payments on the computer and the Which? advice asks consumers to check that there is a padlock symbol next to the web address. The padlock, assuming it is there, should not be on the page itself and the website should start with https:// with the “s” standing for secure.
Which? also advises that a full contact address should also be on the site as well as a contact number. Just from these examples it is clear that there are steps people can take quite easily to guard themselves against fraud. Don’t be caught out!
A recent survey shows a 23% rise in mortgage fraud with increasing numbers resorting to lying about their financial position in an attempt to get mortgage lenders to lend. Isn’t this a natural consequence of the terrible difficulties many have in acquiring a mortgage these days? Whatever the motivations behind it however, it is still clearly wrong and should be punished.
The period between April and June this year saw 39 in every 10,000 mortgage applications found to be fraudulent compared to 32 for the same period last year with those guilty typically inflating their job position or not disclosing previous addresses to try and hide a poor credit history.
The National Fraud Authority claims the industry typically loses at least a billion to fraud throughout the year and it’s naturally a concern. Is it inevitable that mortgage fraud will keep on rising, is it down to the authorities to tighten up their procedures to catch out those who try it or should more to be done to deter people from trying it in the first place? It’s obviously a significant problem so what can be done to solve it?
Have HMRC officials been guilty of failing to crack down on gangs who are managing to avoid paying alcohol tax?
It appears so as the four years to 2009/10 saw just 20 successful cases brought despite the Public Accounts Committee estimating that the gap between the amount of duty due and the sum collected stood at around £1.2bn.
The committee also heard that alcohol fraud is big business with the most common method being to export duty unpaid alcohol before redirecting it back to the UK to sell. It also said that the relative lack of prosecutions sends out the wrong message to the offenders and the public generally about the commitment to try and stamp out on this type of crime.
It is perhaps the message the lack of convictions gives out that is most disturbing. A greater number of sentences would send out a strong message that fraud of this type is not tolerated and will be dealt with harshly.
The case of the murder and kidnap of businesswoman Carole Waugh has seen a man charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Nicholas Kutner is charged with pretending to be Waugh’s brother to try and sell the family home and also faces charges of renting the property and unlawfully withdrawing funds from her bank account. Kutner has been held in custody on the fraud charges and remains a key suspect in the hunt to find the murderer of Waugh whose body was found in a car at a garage in London.
Her bank accounts were a key part in the investigation after they became the target for subsequent fraudulent activity. A detective leading the chase to find her killer said that since she was last seen, in April, plundering of her estate had taken place to the value of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Though, at the time of writing this, nobody has yet been charged with Carole Waugh’s murder, it does show how fraudulent activity can play a part in getting the police closer to making a breakthrough in the case.
The founder of the charity Tree of Hope, which helps children who are sick, fears that she may have been the victim of fraudsters and is to launch an investigation.
Some £40,000 of the charity’s £800,000 income comes from a clothes collection company known as SOS Clothes which leaves bags with households to pick up later, filled with unwanted clothes. It should hand over 85% of its profits to Tree of Hope but is reported to have been misleading the charity about the amount of the donations it receives.
Some employees of SOS Clothes were secretly filmed boasting about falsifying records and though the allegations have been denied, if there is any truth in them Tree of Hope is likely to sever all links. It is not yet known if an investigation into the clothing company will take place but, whatever the outcome, it does raise the issue of theft from charities which is said to be increasing.
Denis Oswald from the International Olympics Committee (IOC), says that those who sell London 2012 tickets on the black market ought to be banned from the Olympic movement. Is he right?
There are claims involving officials and agents from 54 countries with some tickets being priced at up to 10 times their face value and involve some of the million tickets for the games which were distributed overseas to the nations that are taking part. However the individual Olympic committees have to ensure that their own allocation is sold only in their country and that appears not to be the case.
Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, who is a member of the Olympic Board, said that any countries who have broken the rules in this way should not be awarded tickets in the future. While the IOC says that it has acted swiftly to resolve the alleged corruption isn’t Sir Menzies right? Isn’t this all too typical of not just the Olympics but other sporting bodies, with FIFA springing to mind?
The London 2012 organising committee distances itself from this behaviour and rightly, but isn’t it endemic to the Olympics, just as the greatest sporting show in town prepares to arrive in our capital?