News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 29/07/2020

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News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 29/07/2020

In this issue:

Bank fraud scam warning

it pays

Trading Standards are issuing an urgent warning after a local resident came close to losing their entire bank balance to fraudsters.

A resident from Westwood Heath received a call from their bank on the telephone number printed on the back of their bank card.

The resident was advised that their card had been fraudulently used in Scotland to the tune of several thousand pounds.

Whist all fraudulent transactions had now been removed, the balance of the account needed to be transferred to a new account number and sort code for security.

Having only recently installed their bank App, the caller offered to ‘guide’ the resident through the process of transferring the balance, and all direct debits.

Upon reaching the transfer of monies page, the resident became concerned, and told the caller that they were not happy to continue at that time, and to call back in 20 minutes.

The resident then made direct contact with the banks Fraud Line who confirmed this was an attempted fraud.

The number displayed on the residents’ phone (and showing on the 1471 service) was not genuine, as the criminals had used a technique known as ‘number spoofing’ to mimic a real number.

Whilst on this call, the fraudsters attempted to call the resident back 3 times.

Thankfully, the account had not been accessed or compromised, and the bank took the relevant security measures to prevent this from happening.

If you have a similar call, Trading Standards advise in the first instance you should hang up.

If you want to call your bank, then do it from another telephone or wait at least ten minutes before using your phone again. If possible, source an alternative contact number for your bank.

Remember, no bank will ask you to:

  • Move money to a so-called secure, safe or holding account.
  • Move your money or ask you to transfer funds to a new sort code and account number.

Take Five

Led by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) and backed by the government, Take Five is a national awareness campaign providing advice and tips for consumers on how to protect themselves from financial fraud.

Many banks and financial institutions are now signed up to this campaign.

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Coventry Council Tax email phishing attack


Trading Standards is warning of a new phishing email (above) being received by Coventry residents in the Westwood area of the City. It alleges confirmation of a ‘Council Tax Reduction’ due for £385.50, after considering your Council Tax band and your income.

You are asked to click on a link to ‘apply now’ to claim reductions for the past two years.

The link does not take you to Coventry City Council Tax Department but a fake fraudster's website where you are asked to provide personal and bank details.

How to protect yourself 

  • Do not click on any links or open attachments contained within any unsolicited emails.
  • If an email appears to have come from a person or organisation you know of, but the message is unexpected or unusual, contact them directly via another method to confirm that they sent you the email.
  • If you receive an email which asks you to login to an online account via a link provided in the email, instead of clicking on the link, open your browser and go directly to the company’s website yourself.
  • If you have clicked on a link in the email, do not supply any information on the website that may open.
  • If you think you may have compromised the safety of your bank details and/or have lost money due to fraudulent misuse of your cards, you should immediately contact your bank, and report it to Action Fraud

The Valuation Office Agency, who are responsible for determining the council tax band for your home, have provided some useful information about Council Tax scams and what you can do to avoid them. 

This is available via their website.

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Trading Standards urge vigilance with callers at the door!


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.

This comes after an increase in reports of doorstep cold calling across the City, including Hearsall Common, Westwood Health, and the Stoke area.

The current pandemic with a lot of people still working from home, or shielding, has provided a perfect opportunity for these rogues to catch more people at home and offer their services.

This coupled with the fact that many may have already done a lot of home improvements during lockdown, but there are some jobs for which ‘professional’ help is needed to finish off the work, has made it all the more easy for the rogues.

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, along with landscaping and gardening.

In Coventry, we have also seen a lot of reports about jet washing services, guttering cleaning and minor roof repairs.

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.

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, call 0808 223 1133.

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And a warning to businesses – 'Council' advertising scams!


A local trader was telephone cold called and offered a very cheap advertising package for their beauty business.

The caller purported to be calling from Coventry City Council and the package was being offered at this price because it was Council sponsored.

The caller gave a name, but refused to give an email contact, and told the trader this offer was a ‘one off’ and a decision needed to be made ‘now’.

He also advised if the business were to take up on the offer, a personal visit would be made to the premises.

Scammers may pretend that their offer is limited, either in volume or in time, to elicit a quick decision before the victim has had time to reflect on it.  Where a busy business is faced with a rushed decision, it is quite likely that the wrong decision will be made.

If an offer is genuine, then there is no deadline so rigid or so tight as to exclude a period for reflection before you make a commitment.

Trading Standards advise:

  • If you want to place adverts, do your own research before you choose where to advertise.
  • Look out for the persuasion techniques used by scammers, and for warning signs that you are being targeted by a scam
  • Don't make a rushed decision and do check small print carefully before signing any document. Make notes of any telephone conversation, and make sure that everything is confirmed in writing before making an agreement
  • Remember that a verbal contract is binding. Although you may be able to escape a contract if you were misled into making it, it is easier not to make the contract in the first place
  • Be aware that, as a business, you do not have the same cooling-off periods that are available to private consumers
  • Make sure that all staff who take external calls are also aware of business scams.

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For more information on scams, visit:

How to report scams