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Every day, people throughout the UK are falling victim to a scam of one kind or another. These scams come in different forms – letters, email, telephone calls and text messages.
Please do not give out personal information, particularly bank or card details, or any other information that could be used to gain access to your bank accounts. If you have doubts about who has called take their name and number and say you will phone them back. Then find a number for the company (check literature they have sent you if you are a customer of theirs) and call them back on the number provided to check the person is who they claim to be. Never agree to have any work done without first getting quotes from several legitimate companies and do not hesitate to hang up if you are suspicious.
If you are approached and offered the chance to partake in something that seems too good to be true, before you respond stop and think.
There are a number of methods used to try to get you to part with money but if anything involves sending cash to claim a larger sum of money it is more than likely to be a scam.
If you are worried and wish to speak with Police about a suspected scam please call Suffolk Police on 101 or alternatively 01473 613500.
A useful guide produced by the Metropolitan Police Force can be downloaded here.
To receive fewer unsolicited sales telephone calls, consumers can register with the Telephone Preference Service on 0845 070 0707 or www.tpsonline.org.uk and to receive less unsolicited mail they can register with the Mailing Preference Service on 0845 703 4599 or www.mpsonline.org.uk.
SPAM EMAIL ADVICE
General advice for dealing with spam email:
- Do not open attachments or click on links in spam email
s, companies, and HM Revenue and Customs will not ask for your username, password or personal details via email
- Email addresses and contents can be fake, even if they appeared to be from a legitimate organisation
- Never reply to spam email or ask to un-subscribe, it only confirms that your email account is active. Most email services provide a “junk or safe list” which if activated can filter spam out of the users inbox
- If it is too good to be true, then its not true.
- Spammers will use current events to legitimise their message, sometimes within hours of the event.
- If you are suspicious of the sender, do not take the risk – always delete spam email
BOGUS PHONE CALL ADVICE
General advice for dealing with bogus phone calls:
Please be extremely careful when dealing with any unknown callers and to NEVER to give out personal information or to hand over cards or money in these circumstances. Please remember the following, and please alert older family members and friends to the tricks the scammers can use –
- Your bank or the police will never ask for your PIN, bank card or bank account details over the phone – never give these details out.
- The police will never call you and ask you to withdraw money from your account, and will never ask you to handover bank cards, to give to a courier or taxi driver, regardless of how convincing the caller may seem.
- If you receive such a call leave the landline for at least five minutes to make an outside call. Fraudsters will keep the line open and have been known to play ring tones, hold music and a recorded message down the phone so the victim believes they are making a call to a legitimate number.
- Use a friend’s or neighbour’s telephone instead.
- Friends, family, carers and neighbours are asked to spread the word to ensure everyone is aware of this scam and not to give out personal details.
The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has recently posted several warnings of e-mails and letters being circulated from bogus solicitor and law practices. The e-mails in particular are using names of bone fide companies however these e-mails do not originate from them.
The scams take the form of unsolicited emails, text messages, telephone calls or direct mail. They will promise you something unlikely in return for a “small fee”, or try to get hold of your personal details such as
- bank account details
- your full name
- your date of birth; or
- login details to bank accounts and other sensitive online accounts.
If you have been targeted by such scams, do not give out any money or personal details. However, if you think there’s a good chance someone approaching you may be genuine, ask lots of questions—just don’t give them any money or personal details up front. Most scammers will not answer your questions or will just continue to pester you for money or personal details.
Remember, if it seems too good be true, it probably is. Your money may disappear, but the thing you were promised won’t appear.
It is a criminal offence for someone to call themselves a solicitor or act as a solicitor if they are not on the roll of solicitors.
You can check if someone is a solicitor by searching Find a solicitor, the Law Society’s online directory of solicitors. This directory contains details of almost all of the solicitors that are regulated by the SRA —the only genuine ones not on there are those who have requested their removal from the database.
If you would like to double-check that a solicitor is genuine, or if you think you are dealing with a bogus solicitor, contact the SRA immediately.
Check the SRA’s scam alerts for details of recent and ongoing scams.
If you have been a victim of fraud, there are two ways to report it to Action Fraud.
On line: www.actionfraud.police.uk
To report a fraud over the phone call: 0300 123 20 40
It is a fact that keeping windows and doors of houses, sheds and garages locked and secure significantly reduces the chances of being burgled – Lock up and keep safe.
Items stolen as a result of insecurities tend to be smaller things such as cameras, laptops, and mobile phones from houses, or tools, cycles and lawnmowers from sheds or garages.
It’s tempting at the end of a relaxing day in the Summer to leave items out such as games, BBQs, garden furniture, toys, and bicycles. These items are attractive to thieves and costly to replace. A few minutes packing up the garden could prevent later inconvenience and expense.
Friends, family, and neighbours should keep an eye on the elderly and/or vulnerable to prevent them becoming victims of distraction burglars or rogue traders – If in doubt, keep them out.
Basic security steps to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of opportunist crime are:
These are Suffolk Police’s top 10 tips to help prevent burglary:
- Prevent access to rear of property (eg high lockable gates-walls, fences).
- Fit British-standard five-lever Mortise locks (or UPVC equivalent) to all external doors.
- Fit (and use) locks to all ground-floor windows and remove keys from locks.
- Rear garden fencing/walls should be approximately 6ft, preferably with additional topping (eg trellis or plastic strips with conical points to make climbing difficult). Homeowners should pay particular attention to fences and walls that adjoin alleyways, footpaths or open land.
- Reduce cash kept in the house to a minimum and ensure good quality jewellery is not left in jewellery boxes or dressing tables.
- Security mark (with house number and postcode) desirable items (eg flatscreen televisions, laptops, mobile telephones and games consoles) and record details and photograph for reference in the event of theft.
- Fit additional padlocks and hasps on garage doors-ensure no tools left out and garages and sheds locked.
- Do not hide spare keys unsecured outside properties.
- Use timer plugs to give the impression property is inhabited when empt
- Consider fitting a burglar alarm as a back up.
HOME SECURITY – GENERAL
- Lock all doors and remove the keys before leaving the house.
- Keep front doors locked even when you are at home and especially if you are in the back garden.
- Close all windows fully before you leave the house, lock downstairs windows and remove the keys.
- Use window limiters to allow air in instead of keeping windows fully open, even when you’re at home.
- Install window locks on upstairs windows that can be easily accessed by a flat roof.
- Lock back gates using a sturdy lock such as a closed shackle padlock to no less than CEN 3-4 security grade or 5 lever lock.
- Make your home look lived in – use timer switches if you’re not home.
- ‘Dusk-to-dawn’ sensored security lighting is a cheap, low cost way of making sure the front of your home or shed/outbuilding is well-lit.
- Visible burglar alarms can make burglars think twice; get specialist advice and consult your insurance company.
- Hedging and shrubs to the front of your property should be pruned to no higher than 1m and trim trees up from the ground to 2m. This will allow a clear line of sight across your property and will stop the garden being used as a hiding place.
- Keep your valuables, jewellery, cash, passport and deeds to your property in a safe.
- Never leave spare keys in an open place. Be aware, burglars know all the usual hiding places so never leave a spare key under the doormat or under a garden gnome.
- Keep dustbins and wheelie-bins away from fencing/gates as these can be used by thieves to climb into windows or used to escape.
- Make sure valuables are property marked. Take photographs and keep a note of any serial numbers.
- Don’t leave equipment and tools lying around that can be used by burglars to break into your home, such as hammers, shovels or gardening tools. Keep ladders locked away and out of sight.
For more security advice visit https://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-z.
HOME SECURITY – DARKER NIGHTS
Leaving your house in total darkness is a sure sign no-one’s at home and an invitation to burglars.
Burglars look for quick win opportunities; they don’t want to run the risk of a confrontation so simply leaving a light on to give the impression someone is at home is often enough to deter them. Timer switches can also be fitted to operate radios and lights if you’re not back from work until after dark or if you’re away for a few days. Leaving a light on costs literally pence in electricity – and that pales into insignificance compared to the hundreds of pounds in insurance excess you might have to pay should your home be broken in to.
A high proportion of all break-ins are as a result of properties being left insecure so checking all windows and doors are locked before leaving the house is crucial.
Other home security essentials are to use your burglar alarm if you have one – it’s amazing how many households don’t bother – and also to never leave a spare key under the doormat or a flowerpot. Burglars will always look there first so it’s not much of a ‘hiding place’.
Anyone wishing to find out more about crime prevention advice and home security should contact their local Crime Prevention Officer at Suffolk Police on 101 or alternatively 01473 613500.
DISTRACTION BURGLARY SECURITY
- LOCK – Keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home.
- STOP – Before you answer the door, stop, and think if you are expecting anyone. Check that you have locked any back door and taken the key out. Look through the spy-hole or the window to see who it is.
- CHAIN – If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first. Keep the chain or bar on while you are talking to the person on the doorstep. (Normally when the door is shut and locked, leave the chain or bar off in case you need to get out in an emergency.
- CHECK – Check their details and identity before you let them into your home. If it is someone looking for help only go out to help if you have someone else with you. If it is someone claiming to be an official, ask for and carefully check their identity card, make sure the caller’s name and picture are the same as on the identity card, even if the visit is pre-arranged. Check their identity with the company concerned if you are at all suspicious.
- The most common tricks used to get into peoples homes are:
- Claiming to be from the water or gas board, charity, council or police
- Asking to use the toilet or telephone
- Claiming to have lost a ball in the garden
- Offering to do work on the house, such as gardening or building work
ROGUE TRADER SECURITY
- Never feel under pressure to make decisions, which could lead to unnecessary, expensive or poor quality work being carried out.
- If you are looking to have work carried out, contact the County Council Trusted Trader Scheme by calling 01473 264859 or by going online at www.suffolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader.
- Always get at least two quotations before agreeing to get any work carried out.
- Ask someone you trust for a second opinion.
- If a trader calls at your home, you have a seven-day cooling off period in which you can cancel any contract above £35.
- If you are in any doubt, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
- Don’t forget to lock your car doors, close windows and secure your sunroof – and never leave your keys in the ignition.
- If you have a garage, use it – but still lock your vehicle. If you park on a driveway or on the street, try to ensure it is in a well-lit area.
- Activate your steering lock and use a visible mechanical lock inside your vehicle – it may deter the thief from even trying. Consider having an anti-theft device, an engine immobiliser or alarm fitted, preferably with a visible warning light to warn thieves that your car is protected.
- Don’t leave valuables or other items on view in your car. A handbag ‘hidden’ under a seat or a mobile phone left on the dashboard are an easy target. A coat or newspaper on the back seat could be hiding something – an opportunist thief will break in to take a look.
- Try not to leave anything of value in your vehicle, even for a short time. Take the items with you or leave them at home.
- If your car is fitted with a removable radio or front plate, remember to take it out, and if you have a satellite navigation system don’t leave the docking station on the windscreen as this advertises the fact you have the system. The thief will break in and check the glove box thinking that you may have left it in there.
- Security mark all your audio equipment with your postcode. Have index marks or vehicle identification numbers etched on all glass surfaces.
- Don’t leave documents that may aid the thief, such as your driving licence, MoT and insurance certificate in your vehicle.
- Thieves steal wheels, especially expensive alloy ones, valuable parts, and even siphon off fuel – so fit locking wheel nuts and lock your fuel filler cap.
You may also want to consider:
- Fitting aftermarket locks and alarms (see www.thatcham.org)
- Secure storage vault within the vehicle.
- Removing tools from the vehicle.
- Overtly marking tools with your details and also registering items with a serial number at www.immobilise.com
- Parking your vehicle within a secure building or compound.
- Parking your vehicle with the doors against a wall or garage to restrict access.
- Installing CCTV that sends a notification when activated.
Remember to lock your pedal cycle to something secure when leaving it unattended – even for short periods of time. Don’t leave your bike lying around your garden – they make an easy target for thieves – lock it away in a secure shed, or similar.
- Even if you live in a rural area where crime is low you may still be targeted – particularly if you make it easy for thieves. A few minutes thinking about your normal routine may prevent the loss, inconvenience, and upset of becoming a victim of crime.
Property items can be registered with a free database called Immobilise. This national system is used by most police forces, including Suffolk – all you need to do is enter the serial number of your phone, computer, MP3 player, bike, or anything else with such a code, and update the system if it is lost or stolen. If the police seize stolen property, or an item is found, officers can search the database to find out whom the item belongs to, and your property will be returned. You can also use the system to find out if a second-hand item you want to buy is stolen. To register go to the web site, www.immobilise.com and follow the instructions.
Suffolk Police has joined forces with the online property database Immobilise to help keep property safe and reunite stolen items with their rightful owners across the county.
Many items of identifiable property are either lost or stolen each year. By taking the time to register property on the Immobilise database, people can take a positive step towards reducing the crime.
Their registered property would be identifiable to all law enforcement agencies across the country. This in turn will help the police reunite property to their lawful owners and will also help to catch criminals.
Almost any possession with a serial number can be registered for free, including:
- Mobile phones
- iPods, other MP3 players and games consoles
- Laptops, computers and PDAs
- Satellite navigation and in-car equipment
- Watches, jewellery, art and antiques can also be registered for a small fee. Users who upgrade can also add photos and certificates of ownership to their account.
Many items of property which are recovered from criminals are not restored to their rightful owners, as without information on serial numbers or property marking police do not know who they belong to.
If you would like register your valuables visit www.immobilise.com
The following tips will help you to stay safe:
- Keep all doors locked at all times, even when you are in. Keep windows secure and don’t forget to shut and lock them when you go out and at night. Always make sure that you have a fire plan so that everyone in the house can get out in the event of a fire.
- If you are not expecting or don’t recognise a caller, think very carefully before you open the door. It is your home and you are not obliged to open the door.
- If you do decide to open the door, make sure that you check through the viewer before hand and use the door chain.
- Always insist on seeing a photo ID card. Before you decide whether to let them in, don’t be afraid to ask them wait outside while you independently check their identification. Don’t rely on the number on any ID card produced – always find a number yourself that you know to be genuine (ie from a utility bill, bank statement etc). Genuine callers will not mind waiting.
- If you see or hear anything suspicious, please call police immediately on 101 or 999 in an emergency. Whilst you may have refused to let a suspicious person in, the next house they call at may contain a vulnerable person who is not so aware of the potential danger.
Download this leaflet for additional information: Cold Callers Leaflet
Your ten tips for staying safe:
- Think through your route
- Personal attack alarms are cheap, reassuring and effective
- Keep to well-lit, busy areas and avoid short cuts
- Keep valuables tucked away out of sight
- Accept the offer of company from a relative or friend – ‘safety in numbers’
- Stay alert to your surroundings and avoid wearing earphones
- If you hear footsteps behind you, turn and look. It may deter a potential attacker if they know they have been seen
- If you feel you are being followed, cross the road or change direction towards a busy place
- Walk towards on-coming traffic and don’t approach an unknown vehicle if it stops near you
- Always ensure that there is someone who knows where you are.
Preventing personal theft
- Carry wallets in an inside pocket, where possible, but never in your back pocket.
- Zip up hand and shoulder bags, and carry with the fasteners against your body to prevent a thief from dipping into it.
- Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm, or in front of you.
- Don’t display jewellery.
- Don’t show your money — keep it safely in your pocket.
- Never leave your bags or other valuables unattended.
- Ensure any bags placed on the on the floor are in front of you so that any movement of the bag will be noticeable.
Safeguard your mobile phone
- Stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you when using your phone in public.
- If you’re not making a call, keep your phone hidden away in one of your front pockets or inside a bag.
- Always use your phone’s security code or PIN
- Keep a record of your unique reference number (IMEI). To get this, dial *#06#, which allows you to block it from being used if it is stolen.
- Download a tracking application, which could help trace your device if it’s stolen.
- Use an ultra violet property marker to write your post code and house number on valuable possessions.
- Insure your possessions and keep the insurance details handy.
Cyber bullying is when an individual or a group of people use modern technology such as email, instant messaging, text messaging or social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, to intimidate and bully someone. For the victim, cyber bullying can be abusive, causing distress humiliation and embarrassment.
Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims. They can ask others to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or forward something embarrassing onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people do not even realise they are actually bullying someone.
If someone is bullying you on your own social profile page, there are tips you can follow, which if necessary can help the police investigating these types of offences:
- Keep and save any bullying emails or images you have been sent.
- Take a screenshot of any comments that are threatening, but then delete them so you don’t have to read them again.
- Make a note of the time and date that messages or images were sent, along with any details you have about the sender.
- Try changing your online user ID or nickname.
- Do not reply to any bullying messages or get into any online arguments.
Cash Point Crooks (Skimming)
Please be on your guard when withdrawing money from of cash points and think security when withdrawing money, paying attention to the advice on the machines.
There are a number of simple steps, which all cardholders can take to help fight ATM crime.
- Scan the whole ATM area before you approach it. Avoid using the ATM if there are suspicious-looking individuals around.
- Check to see if anything looks unusual or suspicious about the ATM showing it might have been tampered with.
- If it appears to have any attachments to the card slot or key pad, do not use it and if possible alert nearby staff or call the police.
- Stand close to the ATM and shield the keypad with your hand when keying in your PIN to prevent a camera or prying eyes obtaining those details
- If your card gets jammed or retained by the machine report this immediately to your bank or building society, ideally using your mobile phone while you are still in front of the machine.
- Check that others in the queue keep a good distance from you. If anybody is standing so close to you that they can see your hands, then don’t enter your pin number. Trust your instincts and, if you feel uncomfortable, discontinue the transaction and walk away.
- Keep your PIN secret. Never reveal your PIN to anyone, not to someone claiming to be from your bank, the police and especially not to a “helpful” stranger.
- Try and make sure that the number is kept private and be swift to remove both the card and money when they are returned to you.
- Be especially cautious if strangers try to distract you or offer to help at an ATM, even if your card is stuck or you are experiencing difficulty with the transaction.
- Regularly check your account balance and keep your receipt to check against your statement.
Please call the police immediately using 999 if you see anybody acting suspicious near ATM machines.
Please use the following link to pass useful information to Suffolk Police about any incident.
DO NOT USE THIS LINK IN AN EMERGENCY OR IN A SITUATION THAT REQUIRES AN IMMEDIATE POLICE RESPONSE WHEN YOU SHOULD RING 999.
Police warning about post mail box fraud
Police in Norfolk and Suffolk are warning people living in communal properties to be alert to criminals stealing mail to commit fraud.
It follows a number of cases in London and Southampton where mail has been stolen from postal boxes and then used to open up personal and business accounts.
T/Detective Superintendent Mark Afford said: “We are not aware of a significant problem in Norfolk and Suffolk and most of these cases are usually reported directly to Action Fraud or the banks without our knowledge; however, it is important that people living in flats or other communal properties are aware of this scam and do what they can to protect their personal details.
“The most basic fraud is simple theft of mail relating to financial products, such as credit cards and bank details; however, we believe in these latest cases fraudsters are assuming the identities of residents living at addresses and using their mail boxes as ‘mail drops’.
“I would urge anyone living in a communal setting and using these types of mail boxes to take some simple steps to prevent themselves from falling victim to this type of crime.”
Simple steps to prevent becoming a victim of this type of fraud include:
• Never grant unauthorised access to communal areas where mail boxes are located.
• If possible collect mail from your mailbox shortly after it has been delivered.
• Do not leave mail in your mailbox for long periods of time.
• If you are going away for a long period, ask a neighbour to check your mailbox.
• Consider switching to online paperless bank statements.
• If you start receiving regular mail at your address which is not in your name, contact the sender directly and confirm what information is held by them.
• If you see damage to any mailboxes notify the resident and landlord immediately as it is likely others could have been targeted.
To report any cases of fraud or to get advice about fraud or internet crime call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or dial 999 if you believe a crime to be in progress.