Trading standards - news
Used and abused or previously cherished?
Second hand cars are one of the most complained about products to Trading standards and Citizens advice. With this in mind Bracknell Forest Trading standards, in conjunction with Vehicle and operator services agency (VOSA), have just conducted a check of used car dealers across the borough.
The good news was that after visiting 10 premises and inspecting 23 vehicles, no major issues were found. Whilst all vehicles conformed to the legal requirements, advise was given on low brake pads, brake fluid and tyre treads as well as illegal modifications such as dark tinted windows.
If you have issues with a car bought from a second hand car dealer, in the Bracknell Forest area, please let us know by contacting us on email@example.com.
Storming the rogues
As the storms hit, so do the rogue traders. It is a period in the year where uninvited callers often target vulnerable people, offering to do household tasks such as repairing roofs, fixing fallen fences and clearing gardens.
Bracknell Forest Council warns consumers to be wary of rogue traders offering to fix this storm damage. Rogue traders trick people into paying very high prices for unnecessary or poor quality work primarily on homes or garden maintenance. Using a rogue trader can lead to additional unexpected cost as the job often needs re-doing where extortionate rates were charged in the first place. Trading Standards services are committed to tackling doorstep crime and take steps to deal with offenders and to protect communities.
If you have been affected by the adverse weather and need work done to your property or garden, don’t just rely on the first person who knocks on your door. To put your mind at ease, take a look at our approved traders on our Buy With Confidence scheme to ensure you get the job done properly.
Trading Standards is urging everyone who knows or cares for a vulnerable or elderly person to make sure they are aware of their rights when it comes to suspicious door step approaches and to carefully research sales people before inviting them into their home.
Tax doesn’t have to be taxing - for scammers
Everyone who is in Self Assessment tax can now rest a little easier, now that the January 31 deadline has passed. Or can they?
This is a fantastic opportunity for rogues and scammers to prey on the unsuspecting tax payers. These charlatans create an official sounding email address with the same format and logos as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and send out emails claiming that you have not paid enough tax and for you to transfer £x to them immediately in order to avoid a criminal prosecution. Of course, the bank account details they provide will not be that of HMRC.
Most commonly, people are receiving emails from an establishment claiming to be HMRC stating that they are due a tax refund. They are then requested to fill out a form requesting all your personal information in order to ‘confirm your identity’, or directed to a fake website where they will be asked for bank or credit card details so that the fictitious sum can be paid out.
Once the scammers have received all the information they need, the bogus site will then redirect to the real HMRC creating the impression it is authentic. Many victims have no idea that they have been conned until alerted by their banks.
We can all be a little nervous when it comes to paying the correct amount of tax, but do not get caught by these fictitious emails. HMRC will never send a tax rebate/refund by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email. For further information please visit Phishing examples on HMRC website.
Trading Standards urge those receiving these emails to contact your accountant or HMRC directly on 0300 200 3300 quoting either your Unique Taxpayer Reference Number or NI number immediately to check your tax position.
Hats that can kill
One of the responsibilities for Trading standards is the safety of products on the market. Kent Trading standards' officers recently seized children’s hats found on sale in their borough due to safety issues. These hats have dangling cords which don't break off, and can lead to suffocation or strangling. Not a good Christmas present after all.
Whilst they have been seized from a market stall in Thanet, it is possible that some of these hats have made their way into Bracknell Forest. We, therefore, advise consumers to keep a look out for these in the area. They are counterfeit versions of well-known characters including Hello Kitty, Sponge Bob Square Pants and Minions from Despicable Me.
If you have seen any of these hats, or anything similar, in circulation, please bring it to the attention of Trading standards by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01344 352000.
Swimming with sharks this Christmas?
After you’ve bought the turkey, the tree, the Christmas lights and tinsel, a Kindle for your parents or an iPad for the kids, it can be an expensive time of year.
With all this, many families may be finding it difficult to cope financially. We are not the only ones who know this - so do the sharks. No matter how desperate you may feel, it is not worth turning to illegal money lenders - loan sharks.
If you have been offered a loan without a credit check and unsure of the amount of interest that you may be paying or being threatened by acts of violence or damage to property by not keeping up with payments, then it is possible that you’ve been bitten by a shark; an unlicensed money lender.
Help is available if you, or someone you know, have been unfortunate enough to get involved with a loan shark. You can call the ‘Stop Loan Shark Project’ and speak to a trained investigator in confidence on 0300 555 2222. You can also use this number to report a loan shark.
Loan sharking is a high level crime from which ‘The Stop Loan Shark Project’ has so far secured 293 prosecutions resulting in more than 176 years worth of custodial sentences.
Whilst help is around for people caught in the illegal money lending trap, it is far better to avoid dealing with these people altogether. If you are unsure on a lender and would like further advice, please contact us.
Is your guarantee guaranteed?
If you have ever taken out insurance to cover items in your home, such as your washing machine or TV, you may be aware that if you sell the item the warranty will not be transferable to the new owners if and when you sell it on.
But, what happens with the items that form part of your home such as double-glazed windows, doors, central heating, boilers etc…? When you buy a property, are these warranties transferable to you as the new owners of the property? It would not be unreasonable to expect that the original warranty given at the time the windows or central heating were installed would be transferred to the new owner automatically. Would it?
However, this is not necessarily the case. Many warranties remain with the person who entered into the contract originally, and not with the item in question. That includes that 3-year-old double glazing in the house you've just bought, or that boiler with a “life time warranty”.
It is very important that new purchasers check with their solicitors when purchasing a home to ensure that all warranties associated with the property are transferable with the property as this is unlikely to be listed in the initial conveyancing report. Otherwise you may find yourself with an unexpected bill to rectify problems that you assumed would be covered with an existing warranty.
One of the roles of Trading Standards is to investigate fake or counterfeit goods. Recently, we prosecuted a Great Hollands resident in relation to 111 items of counterfeit designer clothing resulting in a £1,120 fine.
For more information on our prosecution, please see http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/ebay-conman-fined-selling-fake-6362374.
We aim to create a greater awareness of counterfeiting - it is easy to fall into the trap; purchasing a product only to find it is not real. Increasingly, counterfeit items are sold on the internet with an increasing amount found on social media sites such as Facebook. If we see a ‘bargain’, we may take it.
Be cautious with advertised ‘bargains’, what you think you are buying may not always be what you get. It is advisable to stick to a more trusted supplier; if you find yourself asking if it is “too good to be true”, it probably is.
If you have fallen into this trap, or know someone who has, please let us at Trading Standards know. We can do something about it.
Blanket give and take!
Part of the role of Trading Standards is to investigate people supplying fake or counterfeit items. Where counterfeit goods are sold in the local area, in addition to mounting a criminal investigation, Trading Standards would look to seize and detain the goods.
Last year Trading Standards seized over 130 counterfeit ‘Snuggie’ blankets. These were surrendered by two traders, who were then prosecuted and cautioned in relation to the offences.
Rather than destroy the blankets, these were donated to Bracknell Age Concern to help local residents.
This was a win-win situation for Trading Standards, as not only did we get to protect the general public from counterfeit goods, we also got the opportunity to help the elderly residents keep warm with free blankets this winter.