Trading standards - news

Food hygiene standards - April 2014

Did you know all restaurants, takeaways, pubs and other places selling food get a rating for food hygiene, known as the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme? Each premises is given a rating from 5 (the best) to 0.

You can see all the ratings for Bracknell Forest on the Food Standards Agency website. If you're doing well, it's a great way to recommend your business, and if it's not what you want then just talk to the Environmental Health Team about how you can improve. 

For further advice on the rating scheme in Bracknell Forest, please visit our food safety page or contact the Environmental Health Team using our Environmental Health enquiry form.

Phone scammers - March 2014

Trading standards officers are warning residents to be aware of telephone calls from scammers trying to obtain customers PIN numbers and handing over their bank cards.

These scammers operate by pretending to be from your bank; they inform you that your bank card has been used fraudulently and ask you to hang up and redial your bank to ascertain that their call is genuine. However, the fraudsters remain on the line. So, when you think you have got through to your bank you are in fact still talking with the impostor which is when they ask you to give them your PIN number to verify your account. Finally, to obtain your card, they offer to send a courier round to your house to collect the card in person.

Please remember that banks never ask for your PIN number. This is unique to you and should never be revealed to anyone.

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 via the Trading Standards enquiry form.

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 trading.standards@bracknell-forest.gov.uk or by telephone on 01344 352000.

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