Crime Prevention advice from Herts. Cons
This button has been added because Crime Prevention advice has been in the past, scattered in different sections of the website. Its thought that this was impracticale given the seriousness of the subject. By centralising it we could then add more useful information:
Beware of rogue traders following recent strong winds
Following the recent strong winds, Hertfordshire Trading Standards are reminding residents to be cautious of traders going door-to-door offering to undertake gardening and maintenance work.
A typical tactic of rogue traders, who often seem genuine, is to claim there is damage to your roof, such as a broken tile. If given access, the rogue trader will then claim the damage is worse than they first thought, and requires urgent attention. The rogue trader may then claim the roof is in danger of collapsing, causing panic and giving the impression that work needs doing immediately. In the past, Trading Standards have received complaints of this very nature where it has later been discovered that the value of the ‘repair’ is far less than was charged, and in some cases the work did not need doing in the first place.
Please check for any damage to your neighbour’s property, particularly older persons and those that are more vulnerable, as rogue traders may target them. Remind them to be cautious of traders going door-to-door. Any suspected rogue traders can be reported to Police via 101 or to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
If work needs doing, the advice from Trading Standards is to source a reputable trader and say no to any cold callers, whether at the door, on the telephone or email. Seek recommendations from family or friends, or you can find a list of Which? Trusted Traders here: https://trustedtraders.which.co.uk/. Traders with a 'Hertfordshire Trading Standards approved' logo have been assessed by Trading Standards and DBS checked.
Supermarket Car Parks - Thefts from Customers
Two thefts in supermarket car parks in different parts of the county were reported yesterday. This is part of an ongoing trend of thefts of handbags and wallets taking place in local supermarket car parks throughout the county. Circumstances vary, but always involve a customer being approached in the car park by a stranger, who distracts them by asking a question or asking them to look at something.
A typical scenario is where a customer is putting their shopping into their vehicle. A stranger approaches and distracts them by pointing out a concern in relation to their car. While they are distracted by looking at the potential car problem, an accomplice grabs their unattended handbag.
A similar scenario is where a stranger approaches the customer and asks for directions. Again, while the customer is focusing on giving directions, their property is stolen.
In most cases, the victim’s cash is stolen and their cards are used quickly at a nearby location. In some cases, the thief has watched the victim entering their PIN number while paying for their shopping.
Although residents of different age groups have been targeted, we have received most reports where the victims have been senior residents.
Protect Your Money
Please be alert to this crime type and share this alert with neighbours and relatives.
When loading shopping into your vehicle, be conscious about where your handbag or other valuables are. Place them out of reach of passers-by and don’t leave them unattended, even for a moment.
Should a stranger approach you with a question, finish loading your shopping and lock your valuables into your vehicle before speaking with them.
Please use your hand as a shield while entering your PIN number when shopping or at cash points.
Alert: Telephone Calls from Phoney Police Officers
Please be aware that fraudsters are contacting elderly persons in the local area claiming to be police officers from Hammersmith Police Station.
The fraudsters telephone you and claim that a fraud has taken place on your bank account. They ask you to withdraw money from your account and tell you that this will be collected by a courier. They may ask you to call them back on 999 to confirm their identity – however, they are not disconnecting the line, so this is part of the fraud.
If you receive a call like this, please terminate the call immediately and then use a different telephone to report the incident to Hertfordshire Police on 101.
Please remember that a police officer would never ask you to withdraw money from your bank account, nor would police ask you for your four-digit PIN number.
Alert: Three Current Scams
Here are some current scams being reported across Hertfordshire:
1. You receive a letter regarding your Direct Debit payment for your TV Licence. The letter gives ‘your’ TV licence reference number and says there has been a problem with your payments. It asks you to contact the person on the letter and let them know your bank details to get your payments back on track. This is a scam.
2. You receive a phone call from HM Inspector of Taxes. They say that you are being investigated and there is an arrest warrant in your name. The number that has called may be displayed as 0300 200 3300, which is a genuine HMRC enquiries phone number. This is a scam.
3. You receive a phone call from BT, who tell you that your internet is running slow and needs maintenance. They offer to talk you through some steps to help resolve the problem. This may involve you downloading some software onto your computer. This is a scam.
PROTECT YOUR MONEY
People who contact you may not be who they claim. Beware any unexpected contact, especially if it regards money matters.
Remember, criminals can “spoof” telephone numbers so that your caller display shows a genuine number from the organisation they claim to represent.
Don’t be panicked or rushed into giving any information about yourself to someone who has unexpectedly contacted you.
If you are unsure, put the phone down. If it is an Email, never click on any Link within it. If it is a letter, seek a second opinion from someone you trust.
Home Burglary's security advice
Due to a recent increase in Home Burglary’s which has resulted in some residents vehicles being taken, during the night.
Please take time to secure your home and property before going out, work or bed by:
- Not leaving any keys near to the front door or on your window sill.
- Not leaving any handbags near the front door or on window sill. UPVC doors, remember to lift up the handle and use your key to lock it properly
- Take extra care when locking doors and windows
- Active your alarm if fitted.
- Do not leave valuables on show
- If you suspect something – call the police
- Look out for neighbours and be vigilant.
Banking Protocol prevents more than £400,000 of fraud in Hertfordshire
The Banking Protocol - a ground-breaking rapid response scheme - has prevented more than £400,000 of attempted fraud in Hertfordshire.
The scheme means branch staff can immediately alert police and Trading Standards to suspected frauds taking place.
More than 110 emergency calls have now been placed and respond to under the scheme in Hertfordshire
More than £400,000 worth of fraud has been prevented in Hertfordshire thanks to the introduction of the Banking Protocol, a ground-breaking scheme aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch.
Since the initiative was introduced by Hertfordshire Constabulary in May 2017 a total of 113 emergency calls have now been placed and responded to through the scheme and 65 vulnerable victims have been protected (up to end of May 2018).
Developed as a partnership between the finance industry, police and Trading Standards, the Banking Protocol enables bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch.
Branch staff, call handlers, police and trading standards officers in each area have all been trained in the Banking Protocol and the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.
Across the country the Banking Protocol has led to a total of 197 arrests and prevented almost £25m in fraud, while 3,682 emergency calls have been placed and responded to through the scheme.
As well as stopping frauds taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future.
UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the Banking Protocol, with support from the National Trading Standards Scam team and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.
Scams Affecting Our Senior Residents
Please note the following important points that Owl Watch would like to share:
1. Beware all unexpected telephone callers, even those claiming to be police or your bank. If you don’t personally know a caller, be sceptical. Even if they know details about you, it doesn’t mean they are who they claim. Remember: Scammers are convincing, it’s how they make their money.
2. Criminals are able to “spoof” your caller display to make it show the phone number of your local bank or police station, so do not use the caller display as proof of identity.
3. I-Tunes voucher cards can only be used for purchasing music, games, phones and other technology from the I-Tunes store. They cannot be used for paying tax bills. No government department or other legitimate business would ever ask you to pay a bill using an I-Tunes card.
OWL MESSAGING. This is an e-mail facility from Herts Police giving very useful information. SIGN UP at www.owl.co.uk it is free and you have no obligation.
More ways to make your home secure this autumn
Hertfordshire Constabulary is reminding residents to keep their homes secure and report suspicious behaviour as the afternoon and evenings grow darker.
During the autumn and winter burglaries often increase, so police will be focusing on burglary as a priority with targeted patrols, and also providing residents with advice on home security, property marking and general crime prevention.
Safer neighbourhood officers will be holding crime prevention events across the county giving away free burglary prevention packs and offering advice on keeping homes and valuables safe.
Residents are also being advised to make their homes as secure as possible and consider installing some of the new security devices which have come onto the market lately. There is now a variety of inexpensive security lights and wifi-enabled doorbell cameras and interior cameras fitted with motion sensors, which enable you to monitor your home remotely using your phone.
These kinds of devices can be easily installed for minimal expense and have been successful in thwarting a number of burglaries across the country.
Residents can make their homes more secure by following some basic crime prevention advice such as:
Ensure doors are double locked at all times. Keep windows closed and locked.
Consider installing a door bell camera, internal camera and/or monitored burglar alarm.
Install ‘dusk to dawn’ external lighting and use timer switches in your home to control internal lights, radios and a simulated TV.
Keep keys and valuables secure and out of sight.
Ensure boundary fences are secure with side gates locked. Keep tools and ladders in a locked shed.
Join Hertfordshire’s Neighbourhood Watch for alerts and advice: www.owl.co.uk
Visit www.owlprotect.uk for discounts on security products.
Protect yourself and your loved ones from from phone scammers
Police are urging people to guard against phone Scams. Several methods have been used by fraudsters to try and con victims out of cash.
A 53-year-old woman in the Buntingford area was contacted by a woman who claimed to be from BT and told the victim they had viruses on their computer. The victim was then transferred to a ‘security expert’ who accessed her computer remotely. The offender then became threatening and told the victim to go to Tesco and purchase £5,000 worth of iTunes vouchers. Officers intervened and no purchase was made.
87-year-old man from Markyate was contacted and told that he owed £500 to HMRC. The victim was persuaded to purchase £500 worth of iTunes vouchers as payment and read the codes over the phone to the offender.
65-year-old man from Stevenage was contacted by a man claiming to be from HMRC who stated he owed taxes. The victim was told to purchase iTunes vouchers from outlets and read the codes over the phone. He then transfered money over to a Bitcoin account. He lost £11,500 to the fraudsters.
Phone scams have been received in Hertsmere, offenders call victims and claim to be police officers investigating fraudulent activity on their bank accounts. They then ask the victims to hand cash or bank cards over to a courier as part of a false investigation. No money was lost on these occasions.
DS Jon Leak, who leads the investigation team, said: “We continue to bring offenders to justice. Convictions have already been secured, these scams are still occurring using a variety of methods. Many people recognise them for what they are and refuse to part with any money.People are still falling prey to these fraudsters and lose thousands of pounds. You will never be asked by Police, Banks or HMRC, to purchase iTunes vouchers as payment. Police and Banks would never ask for your PIN or for you to hand cash and bank cards over to a courier.
Scam calls from your Telecom provider re Internet Connection compromised
Residents throughout Hertfordshire have been receiving calls from someone purporting to be from the Openreach team, telling them that their internet connection had been compromised.
They are very convincing, and try a get you to type 'eventvwr' into your windows search.
This is scam, previously calls came from microsoft technical support but now they are coming from your telcom providers.
The following link to "Which" gives you more background
Beware cold calls selling loft insulation
Hertfordshire Trading Standards has noticed a spike in complaints about cold calls trying to sell loft insulation products and is warning consumers not to sign up to these very expensive deals because they often aren’t what they seem.
Typically, they start with a telephone call out of the blue, telling you that fibre glass insulation is due to be phased out by the government or that your existing insulation is too old to be of any use. They tell you that there is a new foam insulation product that will save you money on your heating bills, is eco-friendly and will give you more useable space in your loft. They tell you that there just happens to be a surveyor in your area and they can visit you today to show you the benefits. Before you know it, you’ve been signed up to an expensive contract and the work to strip out the existing insulation agreed for the next day. Victims of this scam across the county have lost between £5000 and £9000 for this unnecessary work.
Trading Standards advice is that you don’t let someone sell you a product as a result of a cold call. If it was any good, you could choose to buy it yourself after shopping around for the best deal. Just say no to any such call and hang up. If you receive lots of these nuisance calls, put your phone on answerphone if you have one and screen your calls.
If you are looking for a good trader to carry out work in your home, use family and friends to give you recommendations of good people they have used. If you still can’t find anyone, please use the Hertfordshire Trading Standards good trader scheme run with Which? and look on www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/goodtrader or call us on 01707 292429 for a good, local trader.
Threatening Phone Calls from Phoney Tax Fraudsters
We are receiving numerous reports from local residents who have received telephone calls from fraudsters who have claimed to be from the HMRC, Tax Office or Inland Revenue Office. If the resident has been out, the callers have left messages urging the resident to contact them urgently, as they could be faced with legal fees.
The fraudsters have known some details about the residents and have told them that they owe a tax bill from several years ago. The fraudsters have claimed to have legal documents and have even claimed that they have a warrant for the resident’s arrest. This has caused some distress to elderly or vulnerable residents who have been threatened in this way.
The callers have tried several methods of obtaining monies from their victims, including asking them to make the payment by i-Tunes vouchers or money transfers.
The tax office would not contact people in this manner and would never request payments by these methods.
Please be aware of this scam and we would encourage you to alert friends and neighbours, particularly those who may be at home in the daytime.
As always, if you receive a telephone call from someone you do not know, please be sceptical, as they may not be who they claim. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into a decision and never send money to someone who has only contacted you by phone, as you cannot be sure they are who they say.
If you have received an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the tax office, it is unlikely to be genuine. However, if you are unsure, Action Fraud will be able to assist.
Their telephone number is 0300 123 2040.
Increase in Scam Calls From Persons Claiming to be From BT
Over the past few weeks Hertfordshire Police have received numerous reports from Hertfordshire Neighbourhood Watch members concerning scam telephone calls from persons claiming to be from BT. In most cases, the caller claiming to be from BT has told them that other people have hacked into their home internet and are misusing it and have possibly stolen their credit card or bank details. In some cases they have told the resident that they are going to disconnect their service.
Please beware anyone who calls or emails claiming they are from BT or any other telephone or internet service provider, particularly if they ask for access to your computer and/or if they ask for personal or financial details.
If you are in doubt about any cold callers, just hang up. If you wish to check with the company to see if the call was genuine, then using a different phone (this is important), call the number that you have on your contract or utility bill to check it out with the genuine company. Sometimes the scammers can hold your line open in order to trick you into thinking you are calling another number, so if you don't have an alternative phone to call from, it is a good idea to phone someone you know first before calling the company to make sure that they have not held your line open.
Access the latest crime prevention tips and advice through the new Citizens’ Academy website launched by David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire.
The website, http://www.hertscitizensacademy.org offers free online access to a range of interactive tools to help people keep themselves and their property safe in a bid to fight crime.
In addition to e-learning modules covering burglary and financial crime, the site also features engaging case studies, YouTube clips from crime prevention officers and links to other organisations on hand to provide support.
With regular topical updates, the site is a go-to portal for the latest in seasonal crime prevention advice. There arealso quizzes to test your knowledge at the end of each module.
Building on the learning from three pilots in Broxbourne, Dacorum and Welwyn Hatfield, the Citizens’ Academy website brings crime prevention advice into everyone’s homes, making it accessible to people of all ages.
Citizens’ Academy will complement the existing detailed information available via Hertfordshire Constabulary , click here to get started on your Citizens’ Academy challenge and put your crime prevention knowledge to the test.