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TMCNet:  Birmingham residents urged to be

[May 21, 2014]

Birmingham residents urged to be "scam aware"

(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) People in Birmingham looking for jobs, love or a lottery win are being urged to be extra vigilant to a range of online scams, as well as telephone cons and 'phishing' emails.

Calls about computer viruses and offers of compensation for residents supposedly paying too much council tax are also among the most common consumer scams reported to Birmingham City Council's trading standards team.

Birmingham Trading Standards regularly work with community forums and other groups that support victims of crime, to raise awareness of the various scams and cons known to operate across the city.

The most common scams reported in Birmingham are: o Microsoft virus: A cold-caller suggests the victim's computer has a serious virus that must repaired immediately, asking owner to allow remote access to fix it, putting them at risk of identity fraud and financial loss.

o Council tax rebanding: Cold callers suggest residents are entitled to compensation as their home is in the wrong council tax band. An administration fee is charged to investigate, usually with little result.

o Premium rate number scams: These often operate through dating websites -- emailing subscribers a 070 'mobile' number to contact the person who has expressed interest, which is actually a premium rate number.

o Job application scam : An email from major employer with an unmissable job opportunity for which the only requirement is to attend a 50 training day and a CV -- this can leave job hunters out of pocket and at risk of identity fraud.

o Euromillions winner scam: Scams tend to focus on the National or Euromillions lottery,sending emails suggesting the recipient has won a large sum of money and asks recipient to send a small 'fee' to release their winnings.

o Phishing emails: These often purport to be from the recipient's 'bank' alerting them to suspicious activity on their account and asking them to follow a link to report it. This poses a serious risk to identity fraud and financial loss.

New analysis, by the National Fraud Investigation Bureau, found that over a third of scams reported are done over the phone (34 per cent), with a quarter (24 per cent) targeting websites, 16 per cent scamming people with faxes and letters, and 10 per cent via email.

Sajeela Naseer, head of trading standards for Birmingham City Council, said: "Scammers can't continue to get away with fleecing people out of their hard-earned money. We want to see a real fight back against these scams.

"It's a disgrace that scammers often target elderly and vulnerable people with sophisticated scams such as posing as their bank or phone company. People regularly come to us with heart-breaking stories about con artists taking their money and it's vital people know what to look out for and what they can do.

"Anyone who is uncertain about someone asking for their financial details should check with someone they trust and report anything that sounds dodgy to their local Citizens Advice Bureau. Alternatively you can get the low-down on scams by visiting the website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam14 " Notes to editors: For more information about Birmingham Trading Standards visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/tradingstandards To report a scam email: tradingstandards@birmingham.gov.uk Top tops for dealing with scams o If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

o It you haven't bought a ticket, you can't win it.

o You shouldn't have to pay anything to get a prize.

o If in doubt, don't reply -- bin it, delete it or hang up.

o Persuasive sales patter? Just say "no thank you".

o Be suspicious if you are contacted out of the blue.

o Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you.

o Take your time: Resist pressure to make a decision straight away.

o Never send money to someone you don't know.

o Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.

o Your bank will never visit your home.

o Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card or ask for your PIN.

o Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

o Don't suffer in silence -- tell others about scams.

What to do if you have been scammed o Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.

o Often you can't always get your money back if you've been scammed, especially if you've handed over cash.

o If you've paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.

o Get advice and report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 or online advice at www.adviceguide.org.uk .

(c) 2014 M2 COMMUNICATIONS

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