Community Intervention

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Staffordshire Trading Standards, in partnership with the National Trading Standards Scams Team, is committed to protecting the people of Staffordshire from becoming victims of scams through empowering communities and by stamping out scams and fraud.



Staffordshire Trading Standards, in partnership with the National Trading Standards Scams Team, is committed to protecting the people of Staffordshire from becoming victims of scams through empowering communities and by stamping out scams and fraud.



  • Action Fraud Alert; WhatsApp Group Chats Targeted By Fraudsters

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    Many of us use WhatsApp groups to keep up to date with friends, family and community groups.

    Action Fraud are asking us to remain vigilant to fraudsters using these groups to steal our money by pretending or claiming to be another group participant. Having received 636 reports from victims of the messaging app this year alone, Action Fraud has now issued more information about how this fraud takes place so that we can all be on the lookout for this latest scam.

    Action Fraud have issued the following information:

    The fraud often begins when a member of the group receives a WhatsApp audio call from the fraudster, pretending or claiming to be another member of the group. This is done to gain the individual’s trust, and often the scammer will use a false profile picture and/or display name, so at first glance it would appear to be a genuine member of the group.

    The fraudster will tell the victim they are sending them a one-time passcode which will allow them to join an upcoming video call for group members. The criminal then asks the victim to share this passcode with them so they can be “registered” for the video call.

    In reality, the criminal is asking for a registration code to register the victim’s WhatsApp account to a new device so they can take over their account.

    Once the fraudster has access to the victim’s WhatsApp account, they will enable two-step verification which makes it impossible for the victim to regain access their account. Other members of the group, or friends and family in the victim’s contacts, will then be messaged asking them to transfer money urgently as they are in desperate need of help.


    How to secure your WhatsApp account:

    Set up two-step verification (2SV) to give an extra layer of protection to your account. Tap Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable.

    CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person outside of WhatsApp to confirm their identity.

    Report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.

    If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report itat www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 03001232040

  • Trading Standards Intercept Telephone Lists Used By Scammers

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    National Trading Standards has successfully intercepted a number of telephone lists being used by scammers for criminal intent.

    Fraudsters have been using these lists to sell a range of fake goods from health supplements to non-existent insurance policies for white goods or home repair cover plans.

    Many of the residents found on these telephone lists were believed to have been targeted multiple times, escalating into other scams as their details were sold on.

    Some victims went on to receive debt collection letters to recover payments they had not made. Seemingly elderly and vulnerable consumers were targeted on one of the lists, many of whom were already registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

    Staffordshire Trading Standards Team have recently been reaching out to local residents whose details have been found on these telephone lists. Without alarming people, our aim has been to raise awareness of the situation and offering support and assistance to mitigate any potential risks.

    Many have taken up our offer of a call blocker device that can stop up to 95% of unwanted and nuisance calls on a home phone. This useful tool can both help protect consumers from telephone scammers whilst also allowing residents to be feel more confident when answering the phone.

    To find out more about our call blocker project, go to Call Blockers - Staffordshire County Council.

  • Rogue Traders; Solicited / Unsolicited Callers

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    We urge you not to employ traders who call at your door.

    The work undertaken can sometimes be unnecessary, overpriced, of a poor standard or not done at all. Typically, they have no formal training to carry out the work and some may have links with distraction burglars.

    Over recent years, Trading Standards services has also identified an increase in incidents where residents have invited traders to quote for work, (known as solicited visitors), that unfortunately has also resulted in ongoing difficulties. Some of these complainants had already undertaken research into the traders.

    Rogue traders are often predatory and tend to target vulnerable residents. If you have an elderly or vulnerable family member having work done around the home, it is always worth taking some time to understand the situation before any money changes hand.


    Avoiding Rogue Traders; Hints & Tips

    1. Never agree to work offered by unsolicited doorstep callers. Simply say ‘no thank you’ and close the door. Genuine traders will understand your caution.

    2. Research the traders you are looking to use. Just because a trader indicates they belong to an approved scheme, it does not guarantee the quality of their work. It’s worth getting genuine recommendations & obtaining at least 3 written quotes.

    3. As part of your research, use the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Trader Register that allows residents to search for traders committed to doing a good job at a fair price. You can find more information over at Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Trader Register | Trader Scheme.

    4. You can reverse search images used by traders to advertise work they have done. This simply involves searching the internet with an image to understand its authenticity. You can do this over at TinEye Reverse Image Search.

    5. To can find out more information on any Limited Company over at https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/search/.

    6. Most good builders will have a significant lead time, (anything from 6 months to 2 years) so don’t be tempted to cut corners to get the work to start sooner.

    7. Don’t be swayed by glossy flyers or impressive websites that might not show the trader’s own work. Be wary too of posts or recommendations on social media sites that might not be genuine.

    8. Beware of callers offering time limited deals or promotions. Common tactics used by rogue traders include;

    • Knocking at your door & saying they have noticed a problem with your home that they can fix.
    • Offering to do the work quicky as they are ‘working up the road’ or have finished work for a property nearby.
    • Saying they have leftover materials from another job that they can use on your home.
    • Overstaying their welcome & remaining at the door until you agree to do the work.

    9. Display a no cold calling card in your front door. These are issued free of charge from your Trading Standards team.

    10. Don’t allow anyone to pressure you into having work carried out. Rogue traders will often suggest that guttering, roofing, gardening or paving work is in need of urgent repair. Genuine traders would not pressure you into making a decision.


    Reporting a Rogue Trader

    You contact Staffordshire Trading Standards Confidential hotline on 01785 330356 to report local doorstep crime and protect vulnerable persons.

    You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 where you will be given advice and guidance on what steps you will need to take to resolve the issue.

    Contact the consumer helpline - Citizens Advice



  • Correspondence Purporting To Be From Trading Standards Professional Body

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    We’re asking you to be vigilant as fraudsters are sending out letters & emails purporting to be from the Trading Standards Professional Body; The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, (CTSI).

    We’re aware that correspondence carrying the CTSI branding is currently in circulation where fraudsters are suggesting insurance scammers have been apprehended. This letter or email goes on to request that consumers complete a ‘creditors debt form’ suggesting that compensation will be paid out but, in actual fact, serves as a means for fraudsters to gain access to personal details including bank information.

    Evidence suggests that those receiving the letters are on ‘target lists’ having previously been victims of different scams.

    This letter is a scam and is not in any way connected to the Trading Standards professional body, CTSI, so please stay vigilant and do not respond to these letters or emails.

    Chief Executive at CTSI, John Herriman, said: “These scammers show no sign of slowing down and although Trading Standards are working hard to take action against these despicable individuals it is important that the public are on guard and do not respond to letters or emails that appear to be from genuine organisations, like CTSI. Trading Standards are the very people that protect the public, so to see scams targeting our good name in this way is appalling and we want to raise as much awareness about this as possible to stop consumers being defrauded out of their hard-earned cash. We often see fraudsters impersonating trusted brands to deceive the public but impersonating the very essence of those that protect consumers by pretending to be Trading Standards is disgusting and shows that these criminals have no limitations to how far they are willing to go to defraud people of their savings.”

    Anyone who receives a letter of this nature letter should contact the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and their local Trading Standards Service.

    Financial Conduct Authority | FCA

    Trading Standards - About us - Staffordshire County Council

  • Look Out For This Emerging Threat Known As Pig Butchering

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    These long-term frauds tend to combine investment schemes, romance scams and cryptocurrency frauds.

    Scammers typically approach victims via social media, dating apps or other online methods and quickly strive to build a relationship & gain trust. They may try to move conversations onto a different messaging service with less protections or safeguards in place for the user.

    Scammers will begin to talk about successes they have had in investing in property or cryptocurrency, before offering to invest a victim’s money. They might introduce a victim to a cypto-trading platform that is actually being controlled by the scammer.

    Victims may at first see some ‘winnings’ and might even be encouraged to withdraw their ‘profits’ but this is just another ploy to build confidence in the scheme. Buoyed up by their experiences, victims are then often encouraged to invest larger & larger amounts of money. They might subsequently encounter difficulties trying to withdraw their funds and ultimately their cash and the scammer disappear.

    Criminals in this instance are preying on individuals, trying to befriend them over a lengthy period of time to build trust, with the sole purpose of manipulating them to invest in bogus investment schemes.

    The term pig butchering is a derogatory term where scammers attempt to ‘fatten up’ their victims by forming romantic connections before executing the ‘investment’ part of the scam.

    To keep you safe, please be wary about revealing personal information about yourself to anyone you meet online. Scammers may use emotional manipulation to build your trust and might well be initially available to you day & night.

    Be concerned if conversations move towards investment opportunities, particularly in cypto-currency or property, and look out for ‘quick wins’ as this can simply be an attempt to boost your confidence in the scheme.

    If you think you may have been a victim of this type of fraud, contact your bank at the earliest opportunity and report it to Action Fraud.


  • New Parking QR Scam

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    Look out for this latest parking scam that aims to steal your card details by using fake QR codes.

    These QR codes - a type of barcode that can be read by a phone camera – have become ever more popular in car parks today.

    Scammers have now started to exploit this technology by sticking fake QR codes directly on top of real QR codes. Unsuspecting victims that are looking to pay for their parking are then scanning these fake QR codes and making payment directly to the scammers.

    We’ve put together a few tips to help keep you safe when paying for parking;

    1. Look for evidence of tampering

    Before scanning a QR code on a parking metre or machine, check to see if the code appears on a sticker that has been placed over another code. If you can peel a QR code sticker off, be wary as this may suggest it is fake.

    If the QR code is located somewhere other than on the actual metre or machine, it may also indicate it is fake.

    The design of the QR code should match the business’s branding. If the branding or logo appears to be different, be suspicious.

    2. Pay Attention to the Website

    Ensure the QR code takes you to a legitimate website. Check the URL and ensure it matches the name of the parking facility. Look out that the website starts with ‘https://’ at the beginning for the URL, taking extra care to check if the ‘s’ is present as this designates that a site is secure.

    If the URL has been shortened or you can’t tell if you’ve been directed to a legitimate parking provider, look to pay the parking by an alternative method.

    3. Parking Apps

    If the car park makes use of a specific parking payment app, consider downloading this directly from your app store rather than using the QR code provided.

    4. Seek Assistance

    If you discover you are the victim of a QR code scam, contact your bank at the earliest opportunity. This will not only prevent any further fraudulent charges being made on your card but also allows you to check to see if you are eligible for any refund.

    Make sure you report scams and fraud to Action Fraud.


    Newsletter quick poll

    We would like to hear from you about how the newsletter is performing, please help us make improvements by completing the following form: Scam Awareness Newsletter


  • Environment Agency Scam Letter

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    Our neighbouring Trading Standards team based in Birmingham are aware of a scam letter currently in circulation purporting to be from the Environment Agency.

    We keen to ensure that Staffordshire residents are aware of this scam and ask that, should you receive such a letter, you let us know.

    This hand delivered letter, suggests that a West Midlands local asbestos survey has been undertaken in your area. Recipients are advised that high traces of asbestos are likely to have been found within their property & are advised to contact a telephone number to arrange an inspection. THIS IS A CONFIRMED SCAM and we urge you not to contact them in any way.

    To help keep Staffordshire residents safe, please do share this information with friends and family. If you do receive such a letter, please contact us at Staffordshire Trading Standards to help us build a picture about this emerging scam.


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  • Popular Scams Currently Circulating in Staffordshire

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    We’ve put together a summary of 2 of the more popular scams we are coming across in Staffordshire.


    1. ‘Hi Mum & Dad’ Scam

    Scammers impersonating family members, particularly adult children, in order to ask for money. They tend to contact via WhatsApp or text beginning the message ‘Hi Mum’ and then typically starting by saying the sender has lost or damaged their phone so they can’t access it. They go on to explain they are using a friend’s phone, pointing out some imaginary financial difficulty before quickly asking for money. Should you be tempted to send money, the bank details the scammers gives you will probably not match where the scammer will tell you it is because they can’t access their bank account.

    If you receive a message like this;

    • Don’t be tempted to transfer money.
    • If a family member or friend makes an unusual request by text or WhatsApp, call the person to confirm their identity & make further enquiries.
    • Set up two-factor authentication is your WhatsApp account and never share you 6-digit pin code with others. To do this tap settings>account>two-step verification>enable.
    • Report spam messages on WhatsApp by pressing and holding on the message bubble, select ‘report’ & then follow the instructions.


    2. Debt Collection Agencies Threatening Legal Action

    We’ve received complaints from members of the public who have received letters purporting to be from a debt collection agency. A number of these, (but not all), refer to parking notices and are threatening legal action unless immediate payment is made. The letters may appear non-genuine and details within the letter might be incorrect.

    • If you don’t recognise the debt that the letter claims you owe, then make further enquiries to make sure the debt is one you owe.
    • Don’t use any contact details provided within the letter and always check credentials of any company you are unsure of.
    • If you are unsure, talk with someone you trust and report any scam letters to Action Fraud.


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  • Summer Safety Top Tips

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    Hot weather affects us all, but older people and those living alone are more at risk. We urge everyone to look after themselves during the heatwave.

    Who's most at risk?

    A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

    • older people – especially those over 75 and female
    • those who live on their own or in a care home
    • people who have a serious or long-term illness including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson's disease or some mental health conditions
    • people who are on multiple medicines that may make them more likely to be badly affected by hot weather
    • those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and the very young, the bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer's disease
    • people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – those who live in a top-floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside


    Summer Top Tips

    1: Drink water

    Try to drink at least six to eight glasses (1.5 to 2 litres) of water a day.

    2. Manage health conditions

    Health conditions can get worse in the heat, and many medicines can be affected by hot weather. Keep medicines below 25 degrees Celsius or in the fridge (read the storage instructions on the packaging). Take extra care to stay cool and seek medical advice if you need it.

    3. Look out for others

    If you know someone who lives alone or is older, unwell, or needs extra help, check in on them. Make sure that they can keep themselves cool and seek medical help if needed.

    4. Carers

    If you are a carer, remember to look after yourself in the heat, as well as the person you are caring for.

    5. Heat exhaustion

    If you, or anyone you are caring for feels unwell, dizzy, irritable, faint, tired, very thirsty, or has painful muscle spasms when the weather is hot, this could be a sign of heat exhaustion. Cool down and drink plenty of water. If you can’t cool down in 30 minutes call NHS 111 or 999 in an emergency, because this can turn into heatstroke, which is serious.

    6. Fire risks

    Reduce the risk of fire. Safely put out cigarettes, never leave a BBQ unattended and don’t leave glass bottles lying around.


    Hot weather and health: supporting vulnerable people



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  • WhatsApp Account Takeover Scam

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    Criminals are targeting WhatsApp users by posing as a friend and asking for a security code. Action Fraud has had more than 60 reports relating to this scam.

    The scam begins when a criminal gets access to another WhatsApp account, which has you listed as a contact.

    The criminal, posing as your friend or someone that’s a member of a WhatsApp group you’re in, will then send you seemingly normal messages to try and start a conversation with you. However, around the same time you will get a text message from WhatsApp with a six-digit code. This is because the criminal has been trying to login to WhatsApp using your mobile number. The criminal will claim that they sent you their code by accident and ask you to help them by sending it to them. Once the criminal has this code, they can login to your WhatsApp account and lock you out.

    The criminal will then use the same tactic with your WhatsApp contacts, in an effort to steal more accounts and use them to perpetrate fraud.

    What you need to do

    • Set up two-step verification to give an extra layer of protection to your account: Tap settings > account >two-step verification > enable.
    • If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person to confirm their identity.
    • Never share your account’s activation code (that’s the six digit code you get via SMS).
    • You can report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘report’ and then follow the instructions.
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Page last updated: 29 May 2024, 01:19 PM