Every week we update you on the latest scams and advise you on how to protect yourself
• STOP – Never do anything you don’t want to or make any decisions on the spot
• CHECK – Always check their credentials
• ASK – Always ask someone you trust for a second opinion
• MINE – Do not give away personal information
• SHARE – Share your experience with others to lower their risk of being scammed
Email accounts: contain more than just your emails.
Email accounts contain a wealth of sensitive information. Criminals can use your email to reset passwords or obtain personal and financial information, such as your bank details, full address or DOB, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
Secure your email account with two simple steps…
1 - Use a strong, separate password
2 - Enable two-factor authentication
Vehicle Crime: There has been a spike in vehicle crime across Barnet: the advice is simple, always lock the car, do not leave items visible, remove items from the vehicle, even small change. Recent crime figures for the Borough of Barnet show that Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter vans have been targeted for goods within, especially powers tools. In addition there have been a number of thefts involving number plates. Please consider extra safety precautions.
• Fit theft resistant number plate fittings – stolen number plates are commonly used to hide the identity of stolen vehicles. Use one way clutch head screws and adhesive to secure the plate.
• When out and about - try to park your vehicle in an area that is overlooked and well lit
• Thieves are using sophisticated methods to steal vehicles with electronic keys - a scanner is used to locate the signal from the key. To prevent this, always keep the electronic key in a security pouch when not in use.
• Leaving items on show is an invitation – power leads, SatNavs and mounts, stereo front panels, coins, sunglasses, tools, clothing and bags should be removed from the vehicle or placed out of sight.
• Keys and ignition fobs should kept safe and out of sight and reach – the most common ways to steal a car or van is to take the keys or ignition fob, either when left in the vehicle or from your home through burglary. Try not to keep your keys in an obvious place such as the hallway or kitchen.
• Always lock and close the windows of your vehicle when unattended – on the drive, the petrol station forecourt or when parking an unlocked vehicle is the easiest to steal or steal from.
• Fit an alarm or immobiliser if your vehicle does not have one.
• Set the steering wheel lock if your vehicle is fitted with one. If not, use a bar type steering lock each time you leave your vehicle.
• Also consider using a gear stick lock.
There has been a recent increase in distraction thefts at ATMs in Barnet Borough. With this in mind, please be aware of anyone standing close by and always check the machine to see if it’s been tampered with before you use it.
Tell-tale signs of ATM fraud
Things to look out for are devices attached to the machine – some are more obvious than others. If you do see something suspicious contact the police and the bank.
Remember, if it doesn’t look or feel right then steer clear and, if possible, go inside the bank where it will be safer. And always keep a regular check on your transactions.
We know it’s not always easy but please be aware of your surroundings when you’re at an ATM. Thieves will try to watch as you key in your PIN or distract you while you’re withdrawing cash. Be vigilant. Cover your PIN and keep an eye on your card at all times, especially if someone taps you on the shoulder or tries to speak to you.
When you have left the ATM, put your card away immediately.
Finally, be careful with contactless cards. You can obtain a card holder to prevent your card details from being inadvertently read.
We don’t want you to be paranoid, but being aware of your surroundings and not being distracted makes it harder for people to take advantage and less likely that they’ll try to
A firm called Taylor & Clark (T&C) is calling about investing in a lithium-mining venture. T&C asks for copies of a passport and a utility bill to be sent to the mining company. You will receive a contract to sign and return and then hear no more. Calls to T&C just get cut off.
A fraudster called at the address of an 83 year old stating that she was a neighbour, had locked herself out and needed to borrow some money for a taxi. The victim invited her in and lent her £40 from her purse. It is believed that when victim then went into another room the suspect stole the purse from her handbag. It was not until the next day the victim discovered her purse was missing and then received a phone call from her bank informing her that her cards had been used.
Flight ticket fraud
Fraudsters are attempting to entice victims who are looking for cheap flights abroad. Victims have reported booking tickets via websites or a “popular” ticket broker, only to discover that after payment via bank transfer or electronic wire transfer, the tickets/booking references received are counterfeit. In some cases, all communications between the company or broker and the victim have been severed. Fraudsters are targeting individuals who are seeking to travel to African nations and the Middle East, particularly those wishing to travel in time for popular public and religious holidays.
- Pay safe: Be cautious if you're asked to pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money is very difficult to trace and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card or a debit card.
- Conduct research on any company you’re considering purchasing tickets from; for example, are there any negative reviews or forum posts by previous customers online? Don’t just rely on one review - do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials.
- Check any company website thoroughly; does it look professional? Are there any spelling mistakes or irregularities? There should be a valid landline phone number and a full postal address so that the company can be contacted. Avoid using the site if there is only a PO Box address and mobile phone number, as it could be difficult to get in touch after you buy tickets. PO Box addresses and mobile phone numbers are easy to change and difficult to trace.
- Be aware that purchasing tickets from a third party, particularly when initial contact has been made via a social media platform can be incredibly risky.
- If tickets to your intended destination appear cheaper than any other vendor, always consider this; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA or ATOL. You can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Phantom debt fraud
Action Fraud has recently experienced an increase in the number of calls to members of the public by fraudsters requesting payments for a “phantom” debt. The fraud involves being cold-called by someone purporting to be a debt collector, bailiff or other type of enforcement agent. The fraudster may claim to be working under instruction of a court, business or other body and suggest they are recovering funds for a non-existent debt.
The fraudsters are requesting payment, sometimes by bank transfer and if refused, they threaten to visit homes or workplaces in order to recover the supposed debt that is owed. In some cases, the victim is also threatened with arrest. From the reports Action Fraud has received, this type of fraud is presently occurring throughout the UK.
To learn more, please take a look at some of the helpful information and links on the Step Change Debt Charity website; https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-collection/bailiffs-and-debt-collectors-differences.aspx
- Make vigorous checks if you ever get a cold call. Bailiffs for example, should always be able to provide you with a case number and warrant number, along with their name and the court they are calling from; make a note of all details provided to you.
- If you receive a visit from a bailiff, they must always identify themselves as a Court Bailiff at the earliest possible opportunity. Ask to see their identity card which they must carry to prove who they are, this card shows their photograph and identity number. They will also carry the physical warrant showing the debt and endorsed with a court seal.
- If you work for a business and receive a call or visit, be sure to speak with your manager or business owner first. Never pay the debts yourself on behalf of the business you work for; some fraudsters have suggested employees make payment suggesting they can then be reimbursed by their employer when in reality the debt is non-existent.
- Exercise caution believing someone is genuine because you’ve found something on the internet; fraudsters could easily create fake online profiles to make you believe them.
- Double check with the court, company or public body they claim to work for to confirm whether the call is legitimate; if you use a landline make sure you hear the dialling tone prior to dialling as the caller could still be on the line and you could potentially speak to the fraudster(s) to confirm the non-existent debt. Also be sure to independently search for a telephone number to call; never use a number provided by the caller without carrying out your own research.
- Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call. Take five and listen to your instincts.
- If you know you have a debt, keep in regular contact with your creditor and be sure to establish the debt type at the earliest opportunity if you are not aware. This will help you to understand who might be in contact with you regarding any repayments or arrears.
You can report suspicious calls like these to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfaud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
How to spot a scam
Common scams and how to spot them