These are the most communications from Action Fraud, HomeWatch / neighbourhoodalert.co.uk and related sources, which the Police recommend be held no longer than 30 days, so we are deleting posts more than about a month old. This page also carries occasional warnings from Trading Standards. You can see previous Alerts on the Action Fraud Website
The latest Neighbourhood Watch Network e-newsletter is now available. In this issue we hear about the three new online toolkits the Network has produced for members and coordinators covering social media, burglary prevention and managing a scheme. We also hear feedback to Fundraising and Social Media workshops, advice on how to achieve a great working relationship with the Police and a new campaign to tackle scammers. All this and more in the new issue of Our News - the Neighbourhood Watch Network e-newsletter - download it from our website at: ourwatch.org.uk/new-issue-of-our-news-out-now.
HMRC Alert 07/06/2019 21:53:25 
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).
It is vital that the public exercise caution when receiving messages or telephone calls of this nature.
- 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.
What you need to do
Message Sent By Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)
- 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 Alert 04/06/2019 13:13:39 
Individuals have been receiving phone calls from people claiming to be a police officer or banking official
The suspect will say either:
What you need to do
- 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
Your bank or the police will never:
Message Sent By Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)
- 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
Police Call For Vigilance Following A Series Of Scams 29/05/2019 15:42:13 
Detectives are urging Cheshire residents to be vigilant on the back of several fraud offences having been reported to police since the start of the Bank Holiday Weekend. Between Friday 28 May and yesterday, Tuesday May 28, Cheshire Constabulary was notified of scammers targeting people across the county. The fraudsters claimed to be representatives of a bank, a building society, HM Revenue and Customs, the police and a Facebook lottery and told victims a range of lies in a bid to convince them to part with cash.
Detective Inspector Alastair Hinze, of Cheshire Constabulary's Economic Crime Unit, said: "Three of the victims are from Warrington and there are others from Knutsford, Scholar Green and Stapeley. Callers purporting to be from HMRC told victims in Warrington and Stapeley that they owed money in unpaid taxes and would be arrested if they did not pay up. The other fraud offences in Warrington involved a caller pretending to be a detective, who asked a victim to move money from one bank account to another to assist with an investigation, and requests for money to enable a victim to receive a large amount of cash they had been told that they had won on a Facebook lottery. A victim in Knutsford received a call from someone purporting to be from a bank's fraud department telling them that they needed to move money from their ISA accounts to 'safe accounts' due to corrupt employees having access to them. Unfortunately, some of the victims have lost large amounts of money as a result of these scams. A victim in Scholar Green also had money taken after being called from someone purporting to be from a telecommunications company. They told the victim that they had detected hacking on their internet connection and needed to run software to thwart the hackers. This paved the way for them to be able to steal money. Sadly, scams like this are very common, with people throughout the county and the country being targeted every day. Over-the-phone fraudsters can be very convincing and use a range of tactics to try to convince victims to part with their money. For example, they may claim to be working for the police and ask you to call 101 or 999 to verify their identity. When you try to do so you will end up talking to an accomplice as they will not put the phone down when you do, ensuring that the line is kept open. Scammers may also pretend to be calling you from your bank, building society, internet or phone provider or HMRC. All these scams are orchestrated by serious organised crime groups. I urge people living in Cheshire to be vigilant and to follow our advice on how to avoid falling victim to such scams.
Cheshire Constabulary's scam prevention advice includes:
- The police or your bank or building society will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation or for you to withdraw money and hand it to them for safe-keeping, or to transfer your money elsewhere.
- Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from the police, HMRC, your bank, your building society, your internet or phone provider or anyone else asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money (for whatever reason).
- Do not give anyone purporting to be from a telecommunications company access to any of your internet enabled devices, passwords or personal information.
- If you receive a suspicious call asking you to call back to verify that the caller is genuine, make sure that you verify that it is the correct number for the organisation they claim to be calling from. You should then only call back (on the organisation's advertised number) either at a different time or by using a different phone.
- If you are approached, or feel something is suspicious, hang up the phone and do not reply and then report it to police on 101, Action Fraud and your bank on their advertised number.
HMRC and lottery scams
DI Hinze added: "If you have elderly relatives, friends or neighbours please ensure that they are aware of such scams and that you do everything you can to safeguard them and their savings."
- If you receive a phone call - including an automated phone call - letter or email from someone purporting to be from HMRC saying that a warrant is out for your arrest for unpaid tax, this will be a scam. Report the scam to Action Fraud.
- If you receive emails or letters saying that you have won a large amount of money on an overseas or online lottery you have not entered, ignore them.
- If you have responded to such emails/letters/phone calls, break off all contact with the fraudsters immediately.
- If you have given the fraudsters your bank or building society account details, alert your bank or building society immediately.
- Be aware that once you have given your bank or building society account details to a fraudster you are likely to be a target for other frauds - fraudsters often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached, with different identities used to commit further frauds.
- People who have already fallen victim to fraudsters are particularly vulnerable to recovery fraud, which is when fraudsters contact people who have already lost money through fraud and claim to be law enforcement officers or lawyers. They advise the victim that they can help them recover their lost money, but request a fee. This again is a scam.
Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of a scam should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Cheshire Constabulary can be contacted on 101.
Message Sent By Daniel Millington (Police, Media Officer, HQ Digital Communications)
The Big Lunch 2019 24/05/2019 18:44:41 
Neighbourhood Watch is supporting The Big Lunch 2019
On the first weekend of June, communities across the UK will be coming together for a day of food, friendship and fun with The Big Lunch. Last year, over 6 million people took part, so don't miss out - get together with your neighbours and community this summer!
Big Lunches take place in streets, gardens, parks and community spaces. They can be big or small, inside or outside, casual or filled with games, activities and excitement. The most important thing is that people share good food, good company and good fun: small acts of connection that we know can make a big difference.
Get your free Big Lunch starter pack, full of information to help you plan your Big Lunch, as well as posters, invites and other handy resources. Head to thebiglunch.com for more inspiration, ideas and support.
Stay connected with Neighbourhood Watch on Facebook and Twitter.
Message Sent By William Murphy (NHWN, Administrator, England and Wales)
Scam Warning - Fake Talktalk Emails 24/05/2019 15:29:27 
Watch out for these FAKE TalkTalk emails about a refund. Action Fraud has received over 100 reports this week about fake emails purporting to be from TalkTalk. The emails state that the recipient's TalkTalk account is in credit and that they're owed a refund. The links in the emails lead to malicious websites. Don't click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
Message Sent By Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)
Call For Vigilance Following Spate Of Burglaries Across Cheshire 21/05/2019 08:10:44 
Cheshire residents are being urged to be vigilant following a spate of burglaries across the county. A series of homes, sheds, garages and businesses were targeted by burglars over the weekend. Vehicles parked in front of homes were also targeted, with keys to the cars stolen from inside the properties. The majority of the burglary incidents occurred in Warrington. There were also a significant number of burglaries in Widnes, Runcorn, Crewe and Ellesmere Port over the weekend. Burglary incidents also took place in Winsford, Wilmslow, Congleton, Macclesfield, Mere, Smallwood, Alsager, Chester and Frodsham.
Police are investigating the burglaries and are assuring residents that they are doing everything they can to catch the people responsible and bring them to justice. They are also urging anyone with information about any burglary incidents in Cheshire to come forward and are appealing for residents to take action to reduce their chances of becoming victims.
Chief Superintendent Bill Dutton said: "The public can aid our fight against such crimes by contacting us if they see burglaries being carried out or anyone acting suspiciously in their area. Information in relation to anyone carrying out, or suspected to be carrying out, burglaries will also be gratefully received. Cheshire residents can also help us and themselves by making it as difficult as possible for criminals to break into their homes, sheds, garages and businesses. They can do this by following our anti-burglary advice."
The force's tips for deterring would-be burglars include:
Homes and vehicles
- Ensure that all windows are closed and doors are locked at your property, even when you are at home or in the garden
- Use security devices, such as steering locks, to keep vehicles secure
- Never leave your car keys, house keys, purse or wallet on display near a door or window
- Use the security measures on modern windows, which allow them to let some air in but still be locked
- Keep all valuables out of sight of prying eyes
- Always avoid keeping large amounts of cash in your home
- If you are replacing or fitting new doors and windows, get ones that are certified to British Standard BS7950 (windows) or PAS 24-1 (doors)
- Fit mortise locks (Kitemarked BS3621) to all front and back doors, as well as locks to all windows which are easy to reach
- Have a burglar alarm fitted, but make sure that it is installed properly and works.
- Never leave a garage, shed or other outbuilding unlocked and easy prey for opportunist thieves
- Fit strong padlocks to outbuilding doors and make sure that the doors are solid enough not to be kicked in
- Good external security lighting can put off or draw attention to a thief - the most appropriate form is high efficiency low energy lighting controlled by a dusk-to-dawn switch so that it only comes on when it is dark
- If you have external security lighting that comes on when sensing movement, make sure that the lights are directed downwards to prevent them from being annoying to neighbours and dangerous to passing traffic
- Strong fencing or gates will make it difficult for intruders to get onto your land
- Solid fences or walls, particularly those with a flat or rounded top, are relatively easy for a burglar to climb over - fixing trellising to the top can make it more difficult
- Check for weak spots where a thief could get onto your land, such as a low or sagging fence or a back gate with a weak lock
- A thorny hedge along the boundary of your property can put thieves off, as can gravel areas due to the noise of walking on them.
- Be aware of people loitering near your premises
- Be suspicious of people in vehicles watching the business, particularly if this happens more than once
- Be alert for the unusual, such as people looking nervous and anyone showing unreasonable interest in security or staff numbers
- Check the identity of non-customer visitors, such as alarm engineers, surveyors etc, and call the organisations they claim to represent before allowing access
- Encourage staff to think critically about weaknesses in security and discuss them with management
- Seek advice from specialist insurers and brokers
- Keep as little cash as possible in the premises
- Do not count cash within the view of anyone else
- Locate any tills away from entrance/exit doors - this lessens vulnerability to till snatches
- Transfer excess cash to somewhere safe - you do not need a large number of notes in tills
- Restrict access to the rear of counters by always securing lockable doors and counter flaps
- If large amounts of cash need to be banked or collected on a regular basis, the safest method is to employ a recognised cash carrying company
- Consider extra security equipment such as plastic till guards, smoke and dye money packs, a pneumatic cash transfer system, external access and time delay safes, counter caches, anti-bandit or bullet resistant glass and fast-rising screens.
Anyone with information about burglary incidents in the county should call Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or give the details via cheshire.police.uk/contact/general-enquiries.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Message Sent By Dan Hind (Police, Media, Chesh Engagement Unit)
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