Trading standards - news

False ‘European Central Register’

Local businesses are warned of a new scam aimed at businesses in the Bracknell area. The Trading Standards Team are aware letters are being sent to local businesses asking them to register their VAT numbers on a ‘European Central Register’.

Completing the application form will commit the business to a binding contract that will cost £960 a year. This scam is targeted at all businesses. The most damage however is to the smaller local business who try to comply with requirements.

There is no legal requirement by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to register on a central register and all such requests should be ignored.

If you have concerns about your business's VAT situation contact your accountant or HMRC directly on 0300 200 3300 to clarify your position.

Nicotine inhaling products

There is new legislation UK wide relating to e-cigarettes and vaping liquids. It is illegal for shops to sell such products to people under the age of 18 or to others on behalf of someone under 18.

Test purchases resulted in almost 40% of retailers illegally selling nicotine e-cigarettes and vaping liquids to children and young people under 18 after the change in legislation.

In Bracknell 100% of our tested locations failed to sell. Guidance and advice was given to traders before the purchases were made and further assistance is available if needed.

Trading standards will not hesitate to take action where appropriate with future test purchases and in line with our enforcement policy.

If you have concerns about underage sales in Bracknell, please contact the council on 01344 352000.

Help to pack up your troubles on moving day

Moving house can be a stressful business.

Recent changes should help with any potential disagreements.

Issues such as:

  • turning up to your house to find your possessions delivered to the wrong place
  • overcharged for the service
  • broken items

These are potentially valid complaints and should be first addressed with the removals company.

The Removals Industry Ombudsman Scheme recently became one of a growing number of approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies.

If a resolution is not found with the trader, and they are part of a trade body belonging to the Removal Industry Ombudsman Scheme, they must make you aware of this alternate route for resolution.

ADR can often be easier, quicker and more cost-effective than the court process for resolving disputes.

There are currently 40 approved ADR schemes. These include; retail, parking, higher education, furniture and the motor industry.

More information is available from the European Commission's website.

For further civil advice or in relation to a trader who is not a member of the scheme, please contact the Citizens Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Beware long lost relatives and extra lucky lotteries

Scammers are no longer only at your door or the end of the phone. With the growth of electronic devices and communications, scammers can reach you anywhere.

Scammers can be anywhere in the world and reach you through your mail box, inbox or adverts on social media.

Common reports of long-lost relatives with the same surname in need of money. A large inheritance with an initial release payment and admin fees are common scams received by email. Others include lucky lottery wins.

Unfortunately, there is nothing at the end of these as there is no inheritance, royal or lottery. You never entered it anyway so how could you win? Thousands of pounds are lost each year by victims who respond to such mail. If you reply or ‘unsubscribe’ the scammers are then aware your address is in use and more mail will come your way.

Social media is a fast growing platform scammers are now using either to gather data about a person from their page or through advert links to external sites requesting details to progress further or for a ‘free trial’ product.

Top tips for staying safe online:

  • don’t reply to spam emails, even if it is to unsubscribe, and do not click on any links the email may contain
  • make sure you keep your anti-virus software up to date
  • if it sounds too good to be true, it is
  • on social media check your privacy settings. Make sure you provide as little personal information as possible
  • only invite or accept invitations from people who you know or have met. Avoid inviting strangers or friends of friends to your network

Warning over criminals posing as officials

Across the country, Trading standards are urging people to be aware of who they let through their door.

As well as distraction burglaries, rogue traders and pushy salesmen, some people are now posing as fake officials including fake police, trading standards and NHS workers.

One elderly couple have lost £900,000 in a scam involving a bogus trading standards officer. This situation was made worse by the fact the couple had already been fleeced for £300,000 by cowboy roofers, and believed the officials were there to assist in recovering the money. They were tricked into paying £600,000 in 'up-front fees' with promises to recover the money.

If you think you have been a victim of a scam report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

Some top tips to guard against doorstep callers:

  • fit and use a door security chain when you open the door
  • check the identification of a caller by ringing their employer, use the telephone number from your telephone book and not one they might supply - genuine officials will not mind waiting for their identification to be checked
  • do not let anyone carry out work on your house until you get a second opinion and never agree to callers who say 'we are only in the area today'. If you are unsure ask them to come back a different day once you have had a chance to check them out
  • never keep large sums of money in the house and keep purses out of sight, not near the door
  • tell a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of

Doorstep scams

Protect yourself from doorstep crime. If you’re not sure don’t open the door.

Top 5 tips to take a stand against doorstep scams:

  • Use a door chain to check who’s calling.
  • Don’t trade on the door step.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member for advice on reputable traders.
  • Display a “No Cold Calling” sticker outside your door.
  • Always report any suspicious activity.

Remember if you’re not sure, get advice and always report a scam.

For advice on scams call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 03454 04 05 06. To report scams contact Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040.

Mail scams

scam

Everyday, thousands of people become a victim of mail scams. Don’t believe the false promises and protect yourself.

Top 5 tips to take a stand against mail scams:

  1. Never send money to a company in order to claim a prize or winnings.
  2. Watch out for letters with too good to be true offers, it’s probably a scam.
  3. Don’t disclose personal information to people or companies you do not know.
  4. If you get a lot of mail get a trusted friend or family member to help you sort through it.
  5. If you think the letter is a scam report it and shred it.

Remember if you’re not sure, get advice and always report a scam.

For advice on scams call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06. To report scams contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Online scams

The internet gives easy access to criminals to scam consumers out of money. Be online savvy and protect yourself.

Top 5 tips to take a stand against internet scams:

  1. Be wary of emails from unknown sources asking you for personal details.
  2. Set up a junk mail filter to stop unwanted emails entering your account.
  3. Always go to a bank’s official website to get information, don’t follow links within emails.
  4. Make sure your payments online are secure, look for the padlock symbol in the address bar.
  5. Say no to strangers offering to put money in your account, this could be illegal.

Remember if you’re not sure, get advice and always report a scam.

For advice on scams call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06. To report scams contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Telephone scams

Scammers often use the telephone as a method to gain personal details and con people out of their life savings. Avoid being one of them, protect yourself.

Top 5 tips to take a stand against telephone scams:

  1. Never give out personal or bank details over the telephone.
  2. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision over the telephone.
  3. If the caller is vague about giving out their company information, hang up.
  4. Don’t open texts or answer calls from unrecognisable numbers.
  5. Consider a call blocking device to filter out unwanted calls.

Remember if you’re not sure, get advice and always report a scam.

For advice on scams call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06. To report scams contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

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