News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 15 April 2019

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News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 15 April 2019

In this issue:

Trading Standards urge vigilance this coming Easter Bank Holiday weekend


Trading Standards are warning all residents to be on their guard if approached by anyone cold calling at their homes offering any type of property maintenance or gardening services.

Rogue traders are individuals or groups of people who cold-call householders, often targeting vulnerable residents, claiming to be a bona fide business and purporting to offer services, most commonly buildings maintenance and repair.

When employing these doorstep callers, the concern is that after agreeing to work for a nominal cost, the resident is then informed that there is a lot more work required, and the costs escalate.

The long Bank Holiday weekend can be an opportunity for these rogues to catch more people at home and offer work.

If work needs to be done on your property, known and reputable traders should be used.

Although it is not illegal for traders to go door to door, unless there are specific restrictions within that location, most agreements entered must come with written cancellation rights unless the cost is under £42.

If you didn't arrange for a visit, politely decline any offers of work and close your door. Be firm, as rogue traders are in the habit of turning up in the evenings and at weekends and often more than once to try put pressure on people.

These individuals will soon move on if their source of work – and income – dries up.

Our advice as always is not to deal with cold callers as this is a favoured approach used by rogue traders whose sole intention is to extract as much money from residents as possible.

We would also ask that if you have any elderly or vulnerable neighbours that you keep a look out for rogue traders especially if you notice cold callers in your area or anyone acting suspiciously. It would also help if registration numbers of vehicles being used by the cold callers are noted down and reported.

If you have any information that may help us track down these unscrupulous cold callers or you wish to report any incidents involving a rogue trader or doorstep crime, contact us on 03454 040506 or use our online reporting form

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Copycat TV licensing fraud


In December 2018 alone, Action Fraud received 200 crime reports in relation to TV licensing emails, with victims reporting a total loss of £233,455.

Coventry Trading Standards have also had similar reports from local residents.

The scam email claims to offer a refund for over-payments of TV licence fees, but states the victim's bank details need to be updated before the refund can be issued.

The email then links to a copycat website designed to look like TV licensing with a form for victims to enter their details. In reality the website has been set up to look authentic but the form steal victim's bank details, giving the fraudsters the chance to steal the victims savings.

TV licensing will not contact you by email concerning refunds. If you’ve received an email claiming to be from TV licensing, don’t open any attachments or click links in the email's text.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the online fraud reporting tool.

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£6 million confiscated from 'copycat' website criminals


Leading on from the above article, and the importance of reporting, three ‘copycat’ website criminals were ordered to pay back more than £6 million between them at a proceeds of crime hearing at Teesside Crown Court on 2 April 2019.

They were told that failure to pay within three months will lead to a further 26 years behind bars for the trio, which would be in addition to the prison sentences totalling more than 38 years for this case.

The confiscation orders follow trials held in July 2017 and March 2018 which led to the initial convictions and prison sentences. These trials were two of the biggest conspiracy to defraud trials ever brought by trading standards and heard how, between January 2011 and November 2014, the criminals set up and operated copycat websites that knowingly misled hundreds of thousands of consumers into paying more than they needed for a number of government services including new or replacement passports, visas, birth and death certificates, driving licences, driving tests, car tax discs and the London Congestion Charge

Read the press release, including full details of the sentences.

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Trading Standards advice to Debenhams customers


The struggling retailer suspended its shares on Tuesday, after turning down another takeover bid from Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley

It is not yet known what the future hold for its store in Coventry, but it was announced that about 50 of the company’s 165 stores were likely to close.

The news is likely to have worried many Debenhams customers – especially those with gift cards and returns to deal with.

Coventry Trading Standards have addressed the all-important questions, so consumers know where they stand.

Can I still use my gift cards?

If you have a gift card you should look to spend it as soon as possible

When a retailer goes into administration, customers with vouchers are seen as creditors which means they will be among the business’ other creditors who are all trying to claim back any money owed.

There’s no obligation for the administrators or the buyer of a business to continue honouring them.

The Debenhams website says gift cards WILL continue to be honoured, but there are no guarantees as to how long this will last.

Can I return an order?

Currently the Debenhams website says that all orders, returns, and refunds will be honoured.

However, there is no confirmation from the administrators about whether refund rules will change in future – so if you do have an order you want to return, it may be best to do this sooner rather than later.

Is it still safe to make purchases?

Trading Standards advise if you make a purchase from Debenhams now that it is in administration, it would be worth using a debit card, or a credit card if the purchase costs over £100.

This will give you extra protection if something goes wrong with the purchase. You may be able to make a claim through ‘chargeback’ for debit cards, or Section 75 for credit cards.

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Product recall: Morrisons Ta-Da! birthday cake

ta da

Morrisons is recalling all date codes of this product as a precautionary measure because the packaging incorrectly states that the toy wand is not suitable for children younger than 2 years when it should say 3 years.

The toy wand may present a choking hazard to small children.

Anyone who has purchased this cake is being asked to return it to their nearest store for a full refund. A receipt will not be required.

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For more information on scams, visit:

How to report scams