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Neighbourhood Alert Update July
Ref: 439

Date: Tue 16 Jul 2019 12:20

Drivers Targeted With Fake Fines

What you need to know

Action Fraud have received an increase in reports and intelligence where elderly victims are being targeted by individuals purporting to be police officers or traffic wardens. The victims are being approached whilst parked in a car park and are told by the suspect that they have parked illegally or broken a speed limit and a photo has been taken of their car for ‘evidence’.

Victims are advised that they will face a substantial penalty fine unless they pay a smaller upfront fee immediately. Victims, who opt for paying the smaller penalty, will be directed to a parking meter and asked to enter their card and PIN. These parking meters have been tampered with by the suspect in order to retain the card.

Once the victim inserts their card and are asked for their PIN, the victims are shoulder surfed for their PIN by the suspect. Once victims input their PIN, the card is retained by the machine and victims are told by the suspect to seek help from the company who operates the parking meter or their bank.

What you need to do
  • If you are suspicious about the authenticity of the fine, do not pay it until you have verified it with your local council.
  • Always shield your PIN from view when using an ATM machine, and never share your PIN with anyone.
  • If your bank card is retained by an ATM machine, contact your bank immediately to inform them.

Prevent Your Home From Becoming Hot Property This Summer
The summer is a time when Thames Valley Police, and other forces around the country, experience an increase in residential burglary. This is due to opportunist thieves taking advantage of doors and windows being left open in hot weather, and properties not being left secure while residents are away on holiday.

It only takes seconds to steal valuables that are within easy reach. Window opening restrictors can be fitted to ground floor windows to allow ventilation while preventing burglars from being able to climb through. If going out, even just in the garden, you should always close and lock your windows and doors.

The consequences of being burgled reach far beyond the cost and inconvenience of replacing stolen items. It is also the emotional impact of having your summer holiday ruined, and the feeling of being violated, after an uninvited stranger has been in your home.

If leaving your car at home when you go on holiday, remember to remove any valuables and check the windows are closed and doors are locked. If your vehicle is stolen you could lose your motor insurance excess and no claims bonus. You will still be responsible for any vehicle finance owed and likely to pay higher insurance premiums in the future.

Avoid checking-in on social networks at the airport and wait to post your holiday photos until you get home. Some home insurance policies become invalidated if you post that you are away from home.

Holiday Checklist:
  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Check side gates, sheds and garages are locked and tools and ladders are not accessible for burglars to break into your home.
  • Store all keys out of sight and away from your letterbox.
  • Use a RFID pouch to store fobs for keyless entry vehicles.
  • Make your home look occupied by using a timer switch to turn on lights at night.
  • Ask a trusted friend to look after your home while you are away.
  • Invite a neighbour to park their vehicle on your drive while you are away.
  • Don’t post details of your holiday on social media until you return home.

For more burglary prevention advice, download your free Home Security Guide from the Thames Valley Police website here: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/thames-valley/advice/home-security-guide.pdf


HMRC Fake Calls Alert
What you need to know
Action Fraud has experienced an increase in the reporting of malicious calls and voicemails, to members of the public purporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Fraudsters are spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive their victims over the phone. The fraudsters state that as a result of the victim’s non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable for prosecution or other legal proceedings in order to settle the balance. The fraudsters suggest victims can avoid this, by arranging payment to be made immediately by methods such as bank transfer or by purchasing iTunes gift cards.
  • If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, sending bailiffs to the victim’s address or, in some cases, deportation.
  •  Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact with the victim.
  • In genuine cases, HMRC will initially make direct contact with you via post/letter and potentially follow up that letter with a phone call at a later date.
  • If HMRC contact you via telephone they will quote the reference number on the initial letter you should have received. HMRC will not discuss something you are not already aware of, like a tax investigation, and will NOT demand immediate payment.
It is vital that the public exercise caution when receiving messages or telephone calls of this nature.

What you need to do
  • Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.
  • Legitimate organisations wouldn’t ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using an iTunes gift card, or any other type of voucher. If you’re contacted by anyone that asks you to do this, you’re likely the target of a scam
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
  • Report Phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, you can report this as phishing to Action Fraud

Courier Fraud, Bogus Police and Bank Officials Alert
What you need to know

Individuals have been receiving phone calls from people claiming to be a police officer or banking official

The suspect will say either:
  • There has been fraudulent activity at the victim’s bank and the staff at the bank are involved, the victim is then asked to withdraw money to either keep it safe or assist the police with their investigation
  • A business such as a jewellers or currency exchange is fraudulent and they require the victim's assistance to help secure evidence by purchasing jewellery or exchange a large amount of currency to hand over to the police
  • The victim's card has been compromised and used to purchase goods by a suspect, the victim is requested to withdraw their money to keep it safe or hand over their bank card to the police
  • Occasionally the victim will be told to dial a non-emergency extension of ‘161’ to receive confirmation of the individual’s bogus identity, the bogus official will advise the victim to lie about the reason for the withdrawal or purchase if challenged by staff, as the staff member is involved in the fraud
  • A courier attends the victim’s home address to collect the goods the same day, often the victim is given a code word for the courier as a way of authentication
What you need to do
Your bank or the police will never:
  • Phone and ask you for your PIN or full banking password
  • Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping
  • Ask you to transfer money out of your account
  • Send someone to your home to collect cash, PINs, cards to cheque books
Choose Caversham trusts that you find these regular updates useful in keeping you safe from becoming the victim criminal behaviour.

If you do, please drop us an email to: info@choosecaversham.co.uk

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