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Neighbourhood Watch

Be s-careful this Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching in the next couple of weeks, we are issuing some crime prevention advice to keep everybody safe this Halloween!

  • Adults should always accompany young children when trick or treating
  • Please, where possible, only knock on the houses of people you know
  • Keep to well lit areas, carry a torch, wear hi-vis clothing and always remember road safety
  • Eggs and flour can cause damage and considerable distress and can also lead to criminal convictions. Any premises selling these items will be more vigilant and will inform the police.
  • If anyone is displaying the “No trick or treating poster” do not visit the address

Stay safe and be sensible

Firearms Survey

With more than 30,000 firearm and shotgun licence holders in the West Mercia Police Force area, please take a few minutes to complete the survey.


The Association of Police & Crime Commissioners want to hear your views on potential changes to the licensing of firearms and shotguns in England and Wales. Their online survey takes just a few minutes to complete, and will remain open for responses until Weds 20 October. https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/have-your-say-on-potential-changes-to-firearms-licensing

Nominated Neighbour Scheme

This is a free scheme to deter cold callers and rogue traders and help vulnerable and elderly people feel safer in their own homes.

It is funded by the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner to help reduce doorstep crime.

Nominated Neighbour uses bright yellow window stickers to show potential house callers that that they will only been seen if accompanied by a known and trusted person after their identity has been verified by that person.

All it takes is a neighbour, family friend or family member to agree to be nominated and have callers directed to them.

The scheme deters scam callers, who will not want their identity to be checked. In addition to the window sticker, a pack containing useful information on keeping safe is also provided.

Further information can be found at: Nominated Neighbour Scheme.

To join the scheme or if you have questions, contact the Redditch and Bromsgrove Community Safety Team at CommunitySafety@bromsgroveandredditch.gov.uk or call 01527 534187.

New 159 fraud hotline launched to counter threat

STOP, HANG UP, CALL 159

If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details…

…Stop, hang up and call 159 to speak directly to your bank.

Last year criminal gangs stole over £470m by pretending to be your bank or other service provider.

159 is the memorable, secure number that contacts you directly to your bank if you think you’re being scammed.

159 works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS. It’s the number you can trust to get you through to your bank, every time.

159 will never call you. Only a fraudster will object to you calling 159.

 

When should I call 159?

Call 159 if:

  • Someone contacts you saying they’re from your bank – even if they are not suspicious
  • You receive a call asking you to transfer money or make a payment – even if it seems genuine
  • You receive a call about a financial matter and it seems suspicious

Remember, 159 will never call you. But you can rely on 159 to get you through to your bank.

 

Who is behind 159?

159 has been set up by banks and telephone companies who want to fight fraud. It’s a pilot scheme at the moment. The following banks are part of it:

  • Barclays
  • Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland)
  • NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank)
  • Santander
  • Starling Bank

That covers over 70% of UK primary current account holders.

We want more banks to join us, and we hope they will over the course of the pilot.

 

Will it definitely work on my telephone?

Almost all major consumer telephone companies are participating, and over 80% of UK mobiles and landlines will be able to use 159 at the outset. We are working to grow this reach to 100% during the pilot.

The telephone companies are:

  • BT, including EE and Plusnet
  • Gamma
  • O2, including giffgaff
  • TalkTalk
  • Three
  • Virgin Media
  • Sky

What happens if 159 doesn’t work, for any reason?

You should contact your bank in the normal way, using the number on your bank card.

How much does it cost to call 159?

Calling 159 will cost the same as a national rate call; usually part of the included minutes in most phone tariffs.

 

What’s the idea behind the 159 pilot?

159 is a pilot scheme – the idea is to collect evidence to show that calling 159 helps fight fraud. Then we want to make 159 a universal number – available on all phones and for all banks.

PCC Safer West Mercia Plan

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion has launched his consultation to deliver a Safer West Mercia and wants to give the public a chance to have their say.

I have now opened my consultation survey to deliver a safer West Mercia, and want to give you the chance to shape the final version.

As I enter my second term in office I want to build on the vision and promise I set out in 2016 to ensure the community are at the heart of policing. My main aims for the Safer West Mercia Plan are: putting victims and survivors first; building a more secure West Mercia; reforming West Mercia; and reassuring West Mercia’s communities.

As part of a consultation to gather views, you can now have your say on the focus for policing in the coming years and how it will benefit where you live. Whilst feedback from communities has already shaped my plan, I want to make sure everyone has the chance to have their say. I am therefore encouraging you to take this opportunity to influence policing within West Mercia.

I have made clear promises to the communities of Worcestershire and this plan will help deliver them. The consultation will close on Monday 1st November and it can be found here https://www.westmercia-pcc.gov.uk/pcc-launches-new-plan-to-deliver-a-safer-west-mercia/

Barney on the Move

After many years working as a Safer Neighbourhood Officer for the Bromsgrove North & Rural area, which includes Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge, PC Barney Kelso has moved to new challenges within West Mercia Police force area. The Community Association has thanked Barney for his work and have wished him well for the future.

Protect yourself from doorstep crime

A crime prevention message from PCSO Hyder

Protect yourself from doorstep crime. Be aware of people who turn up unannounced, most genuine callers will have a pre-arranged appointment. If in doubt, keep them out!

Doorstep crime can include rogue traders offering home improvement or gardening services, or bogus callers who claim to be the council, police, health carers or energy companies.

Rogue traders may say they are in the area working on another property and they have spotted a problem with your home or garden. They may claim to have materials left over from another job, like paving or tarmac. They may try to pressurise you to buy goods or sign up for services on the spot. Unfortunately all too often they may offer to carry out work cheaply , but charge an extortionate price after the work has been completed.

Bogus callers may claim to be working for the council, water, gas or electric company. They could also say they are a nurse, doctor or even from the police. Bogus callers may say they need to come into your home, or try to get you to go outside. They may try to distract you so they can steal your money. They can be male, female or even children.

A pedlar is someone who calls at your door to sell items that they have to offer, This can often include cleaning or household goods. These goods may be sold at an overpriced value. By law pedlars are required to carry a pedlar’s certificate, which is issues by the police force in the area they operate.

If you are not sure who is at the door, do not open it. Check the identity of any caller. Confirm who they are by calling the company they work for by using the number from the telephone directory or from off one of your bills. Do not call a number provided by them.

If caller does not leave your property when asked to do so, call the police.

Vaccine Scams

Once again, criminals are using Covid-19 to try and scam consumers out of money and personal details. Currently there are many scams circulating regarding to this, pretending to be from different organisations such as the NHS, the World Health Organisation or even your local pharmacy.

These scams may come in the form of text messages, phone calls, websites or even in person. When using text messages, people may be asked to press a number on their keypad or to reply to confirm they wish to receive a vaccine – this may result in a charge being put on the person’s phone bill and a loss of personal information.

Over the phone, criminals may impersonate health officials so they can offer a vaccine in exchange for a fee or requesting bank details to “verify” your details. Emails are making the rounds which often have an attachment or link to book your vaccine. These attachments may contain malware which infects your device and steals information. The links may go to a fake convincing looking vaccine booking forms and may contain some of your personal details to give you confidence in the website – however at the end of the form they will request bank details or further information about you.

With so many different scams relating to Covid-19, it is important to remember the following about the NHS:

• They will never ask for payment – the vaccine is free

• They will never ask for your bank details

• They will never arrive at your home to administer the vaccine unannounced

• They will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as NHS letters, passports or other identification documents.

Charity Scams

Criminals have been using the Covid-19 pandemic to solicit financial donations by impersonating legitimate charities.With the Covid-19 crisis in India being widely reported globally, it is likely that criminals may use the crisis in India to scam members of the public wanting to help.Key advice from Age UK if you receive a suspicious fundraising email or text message:• Be wary of unsolicited communication from a charity or any organisation you have had no previous contact with.• Think about whether you have donated before. Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.• Do not click on any links or open any attachments in a suspicious email, text or social media message.• Do not reply to spam or suspicious emails or texts, even to say no.• If you receive a text message asking you do donate via your mobile, please be aware that texts from charities are always send from numbers between 70000 to 70999. You can also confirm the phone number on the charity’s official website.• Beware of spoofed email addresses and phone numbers. Criminals can easily make an email, text or call look like it comes from a legitimate source. If in doubt, verify what you have received is genuine with a known verified point of contact

British Gas Scam

Action Fraud received 537 reports in 48 hours relating to fake emails purporting to be from British Gas. The emails state that the recipient is due a refund because of overpayment and there is a link to a phishing website requesting personal and financial information.

As part of the scam alert, an example of the message has been released by Action Fraud. It states: “Hello, British Gas wants to inform you that you are eligible for a payment refund of £594. “Our records indicate that you have paid more than you should have for your British Gas Service from 2017-2019 and because of this reason, we have decided to refund you the total amount which you have overpaid.”

A link is also included in the email, which leads to phishing websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information, Action Fraud said. As with all potential suspicious or scam emails, forward them to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) via report@phishing.gov.uk

Energy Scam Calls

There has been a rise in the number of scam calls which are energy-related recently. These may come in the form of calls which promise you a reduced bill if you sign up to their service or the call may be from criminals pretending to be your energy provider and demanding money.

The criminals try to take advantage of people by calling and demanding payment immediately. The scams can use intimidating and aggressive tactics, such as pretending to be a representative of your energy provider and insisting you are behind on your energy bills. If you are concerned it may be a scam, hang up the phone and call back on a number which you know to be genuine. Here are some warning signs that you can look out for:

• Threats to cut your power immediately if you do not pay

• Unclear details about your current agreement with your energy provider

• Requests for money transfers or prepaid debit cards

New fake NHS COVID Pass emails and texts

The NHS COVID Pass was recently launched by the NHS, so people can prove their COVID vaccine or test status. This pass may be asked for when travelling abroad or if you are attending events and venues in England that ask for proof of your COVID-19 status. The pass can come in a digital form via the NHS app for vaccine or test statuses or a paper copy to prove your vaccination status.

The NHS COVID Pass is completely free and can only be obtained via the NHS app or using the online NHS COVID Pass service via the website NHS.UK. For the paper copy version, you can request it via the NHS website or by calling 119.

Criminals have been using this as a tactic trying to get people to part with their money or their details. These have come in the form of emails and texts which invite you to apply for the pass by clicking on a link. The link takes you to a convincing fake NHS website which will capture your personal details. These are the same tactics that we’ve seen previously relating to vaccines.

With so many different scams relating to Covid-19, it is important to remember the following about the NHS:

• They will never ask for payment – the vaccine is free

• They will never ask for your bank details

• They will never arrive at your home to administer the vaccine unannounced

• They will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as NHS letters, passports or other identification documents.

If you have received any emails or texts, it’s important to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm. Or online at: reporting.actionfraud.police.uk.

You should also forward any scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre at report@phishing.gov.uk and forward any scam texts to your network operator at 7726.

Insulation Scam Alert

Several residents have reported receiving a phone call from a firm offering a Free Loft Insulation Survey.When one resident said that her husband would phone back the firm back, they hung up. The resident has told us that the phone number the caller left was also strange.Another residents reports that the caller did not have an accent and sounded very plausible, asking what type of loft insulation was in her property. The resident, realising that it was scam call, put the phone receiver down.
PLEASE speak to your older and vulnerable neighbours about these cold calls, we do not want them being fleeced of their savings.

Speak Up For Rural Crime

Animals in the wild can’t keep themselves safe from crime. That’s where they need your help.
Criminals make money organising and betting on cruel and illegal bloodsports like hare coursing and badger baiting, whilst bats are at risk from thieves who want to trade them and rogue developers who don’t care about destroying their homes.
By speaking up with information that could stop crime, we can all play a part in keeping the countryside and its creatures protected.
Click Here to learn more about Rural Crime, and how you can talk to the charity CrimeStoppers, 24/7, 100% anonymously.

Protecting Your Bicycle

Some advice from PCSO Hyder

Bicycles are one of the most targeted items by thieves…

Always lock your bike when you leave it, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Look to spend about 10% of what your bike is worth on the lock. For better security use two or more locks of a different type – a D lock plus a robust chain and padlock.

All bike frames are given a unique serial number. This is normally located underneath the bike and should be written down or photographed and kept somewhere safe.

Security mark the frame. You can use a UV Pen or a property marking solution such as Smartwater. When marking your bicycle use your initials, postcode or another mark that is unique to you.

When possible lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking area. Wherever you leave your bike unattended please ensure that the area is well covered by good lighting and CCTV, ensure both the wheel and the bike frame is secured to an immovable object.

If your bike is kept in a shed, keep the shed secure with good quality locks and ensure the windows are covered and an alarm is fitted. Remember, even if your bike is stored in a shed or garage, be sure to still use a bike lock in order to prevent anyone from riding off with it should they manage to break in and gain access.

Remember to Insure your bike either on your homes contents insurance or on a separate insurance policy. Double check with your insurance company that your insurance policy does also cover your bike.

Our News – August 2021

The August edition of Our News, the e-newsletter for Neighbourhood Watch supporters, is ready for you to read.

Read about Lottie, the Neighbourhood Watch winner of the Croods 2 treehouse design competition, how crime trends changed during the pandemic and about summer events for volunteers https://bit.ly/OurNewsAug21

Escooters

Message from PC Lloyd Stone

There has been an increase in the use of eScooters  in the Bromsgrove area. Currently,  the only eScooters which can legally be used on a public highway are Bird hire eScooters, and only in desigated parts of Redditch. All others can only be used on private land with the land owner’s permission. For more information please see below.

What is an e-scooter?

Electrical scooters (also known as e-scooters) come under the category of “powered transporters”. This also covers a range of other personal transport devices which are powered by a motor.

“Powered transporters” fall within the legal definition of a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Therefore, the rules that apply to motor vehicles, also apply to e-scooters.

As a motor vehicle, they must comply with various pieces of Road Traffic Legislation, including but not limited to:

·  driving with a licence

·  driving/riding with insurance

·  driving/riding other than on a road

·  need to be taxed

It is not currently possible to get appropriate insurance for privately owned e-scooters, meaning it is illegal to use them on the road or in public spaces.

Rental e-scooter trials

Trials of rental e-scooters are taking place in the UK. Any person who uses a rental e-scooter on a public road or other public space, must comply with the relevant Road Traffic Legislation or they face potential prosecution.

Legal use of an e-scooter

It is legal to use an e-scooter:

·  on private land with the permission of the land owner

·  when the trial comes in, it will be legal to use the rental e-scooters, from specific companies on the road

Enforcement focused on private e-scooters

Prior to and during the trial, enforcement will be focused on private e-scooters. The most appropriate action for the circumstances will be given, these include:

·  a Fixed Penalty Notice for no insurance, with a £300 fine and six penalty points

·  a Fixed Penalty Notice for no driving licence, up to £100 fine and three to six penalty points

Rider behaviour

Police will also take action against rider behaviour, whether private or rental. Offences could include:

·  riding on the footway: Fixed Penalty Notice and possible £50 fine

·  using a mobile phone: £100 and six penalty points

·  riding through red lights: Fixed Penalty Notice, £100 fine and possible penalty points

·  drink driving offences: As with driving cars; court imposed fines, driving ban and possible imprisonment

We would always recommend to wear safety protection such as a helmet when riding these vehicles, and to keep to the speed limit.

Brilliant Fairfield Surgery

Brilliant turnout for Meet the Neighbourhood Team that was held on Monday 2nd August, at the Village Hall.

There were residents, some staying for the hour, others for a few minutes, chatting to PC Stone, catching up with friends and enjoying a cuppa & biscuits.

Thanks to all those who came along. Once again, PC Stone was impressed with the numbers attending and our village hospitality.

And thanks to all those who signed up to Neighbourhood Matters, http://neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk

Meet Your Neighbourhood Team

Bromsgrove North Safer Neighbourhood officers will be conducting a surgery at Fairfield Village Hall on Monday 2nd August at midday for one hour.  Also present will be a representative of your Community Association & Neighbourhood Watch Group.

Coffee/Tea & Biscuits will be available,

Please pop by and say hello and share any concerns. It would be very nice to see you, even if it is for 5 minutes.

Missing Bench

We have received the below message, does anyone know anything about the benches that are going missing?
“I have been to the secret garden today in Pepperwood close and was so angry because once again someone has stolen a bench that I put there. That is the 3rd one that I put there and has been stolen. I also noticed that the sun dial has been moved . I think Fairfield school should take back their bird bath and sundial before they go missing”.

What 3 Words

Three words for a faster emergency response.

To find you more easily in an emergency, West Mercia Police, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and many other UK Emergency Services are encouraging you to share your 3 word address.

What is what3words?

what3words has divided the globe into 3m squares and given each one a unique 3 word address. It means everywhere can be located with just three words. For example ///kite.chats.dine will take you to a precise spot in a field next to the River Ouse in York. what3words is available as a free app for iOS and Android and online map at map.what3words.com. You can find out more about what3words here.

How do I use what3words in an emergency?

  1. Find the 3 word address for your current location on the free what3words app for iOS and Android. It works offline – ideal for areas with unreliable data connection.
  2. Share your 3 word address over the phone to the call handler.
  3. The emergency service can then coordinate a response directly to the exact location where help is needed.

Rural Crime Prevention Message

A rural crime prevention message from PCSO Mark Hyder:

Farms and Rural properties are often in isolated locations and can be vulnerable to crime if not properly secured and protected. A secure perimeter around your property and its outbuildings can help deter would be thieves and burglars from targeting livestock, vehicles and buildings within your boundary.

Regularly check your fences and hedges in order to identity any gaps or weak spots that could help provide unauthorised access by criminals and secure these where necessary. Consider restricting access to your properties entrance with a gate or other form of barrier system, this will help prevent unwelcome guests and vehicles entering onto your land.

You may wish to consider having an infrared passive tripwire system installed. This type of system projects an infrared beam which when broken would alert you to the fact that there may be somebody on your properties grounds. Remember to install this type of system high enough off the ground so local wildlife such as fox’s and badgers do not accidentally set it off.

Install good security lighting around your home, outbuildings and any isolated locations. This can also deter would be criminals as most thieves and burglars would rather remain unseen in order to help prevent them being spotted by the property owner or any possible passersby or police patrols.

Avoid leaving property in isolated locations or in fields – particularly near roadside or any where they can be easily removed without attracting any unwanted attention.

Items such as motorbikes, quad bikes, trailers and sit on lawn mowers are very desirable to thieves. Consider shackling multiple items together or chain items to a sturdy bracket which is secured to the ground or the wall of a building making them difficult to remove.

For further information on all aspects of security Visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/crime-and-safety

Tackling Hare Coursing – West Mercia Joins Operation Galileo

West Mercia Police are pleased to announce they have joined Operation Galileo, a nationwide plan targeting those engaged in illegal hare coursing, by working with 23 other police forces we will endeavor to curtail this cruel and, quite frankly outdated so called ‘sport’. By working with other forces across the country, we can share information and intelligence on offenders who cause the greatest harm to our rural communities. Prevention will be the focus of Operation Galileo, supported by more sophisticated prosecution and intelligence gathering capabilities.

Hare coursers do not just have a negative impact on farming communities. The people that partake in this cruel pursuit are responsible for other crimes across our rural communities and our road network.

People who live in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence, and we really need your support.

What is hare coursing?

Hare coursing is a bloodsport where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares.

It is illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act 2004, which makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs. Anyone convicted of the offence can receive a fine of up to £5,000 by a Magistrates’ Court.

Legislation also gives police the powers to seize and detain vehicles until the court hearing. Powers to seize vehicles may also be granted under section 30 of the Game Act 1831.

Hare coursing tends to start after harvest when large areas of land have been cleared of standing crops. It usually occurs at dawn or dusk.

Our rural landscape makes it a popular area for hare coursing. It often attracts coursers from outside of the county.

What to look out for

  • You can help us fight hare coursing by looking out for activity in your area.
  • The most obvious sign is groups of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path.
  • They will usually be estate cars, four wheel drives or vans. It will be obvious looking inside whether there is evidence of dogs or not.
  • They often travel in convoy, with vans at the front and rear containing minders.
  • They will often use binoculars to spot hares.
  • Coursers will often walk along the edge of a field to frighten a hare into the open.

Report it

  • If you see hare coursing taking place, or suspect it is happening in your area contact us immediately on 101. We advise that you do not approach the participants.
  • It may help us if you can answer any of the questions when reporting wildlife crime:
  • Are the suspect/s alone or in a group?
  • Are they trespassing?
  • Do they have equipment with them?
  • Do they have dogs or firearms with them?
  • Where are they going?
  • Where have they been?
  • What do they look like?
  • Have they any vehicles?
  • What are the number plates and vehicle models?
  • Can you safely get a photograph?

What3Words – Easy way to supply accurate location information

What3Words is a free app designed so people can easily relay location information without the hassle of having to find GPS coordinates or long-winded instructions such as “across the field with the burnt oak tree near the pond”.
Instead every 3m square in the UK has been assigned a three word address which can be given to emergency service call handlers.
The app is free to use and can be downloaded from your mobile devices app store.
You can also access via the website at https://what3words.com/

Take Five to stop fraud

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money.
STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
Click here to find out more about how to protect against doorstep, mail, online, pension and investment, phone, or romance scams.

Watch Out for Rogue Traders

Rogue Traders have recently been cold-calling across Worcestershire offering to tarmac driveways. Residents are warned NOT to buy on the doorstep and to report suspicious callers to Trading Standards (Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or the Police on 101).

Caravans and Motorhomes: Crime Prevention Advice

West Mercia Police have seen an increase in the reports of thefts/attempted thefts of and from caravans and motorhomes over the last few months. If you are a caravan or motorhome owner, here are a few tips which may help in protecting your property:  

When your caravan/motorhome is not in use:
·  Remove all your personal belongings and contents. Leave cupboard doors and curtains open, this may help to deter opportunist thieves if they can see it’s empty.
·  Store your caravan securely. If you are choosing a storage site, don’t just look at the price. Check to see that it offers good security measures.
·  If you are leaving your caravan/motorhome at home, ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your caravan/motorhome as well as your home. Consider fixing good security posts on your drive to prevent your caravan/motorhome being stolen.

Store your caravan/motorhome securely
·  Choose a site operated by the Caravan Storage site Owners Association (CaSSOA)
·  Check to see if it offers good security measures for example secure posts to which your caravan can be hitch-locked, ground anchors, security staff or CCTV.
·  Remember if you can enter the storage area and remove your caravan without being approached, then so can a thief.

Devices for securing your caravan/motorhome
·  Installing a reliable alarm system (GSM) and tracking device.
·  Locking the coupling head into a cover using a good quality hitch lock.
·  Using locking wheel nuts and a good quality clamp on the caravan wheels.
·  Chaining your caravan to a robust and secure point. Use a heavy duty chain that is made out of hardened steel to reduce the chance of it being cut through.

Protect your belongings
·  Ensure you close and lock your doors, windows and roof lights when you leave your caravan.
·  Don’t leave anything valuable on display, laptops etc.
·  Consider security marking any valuables and make sure you have the serial numbers for any items.
·  Never leave Caravan Registration and identification documents (CRis) or V5 documentation in your vehicle.

Buying 
·  Check that the chassis number hasn’t been removed or altered / Check the vehicle registration matches the type of vehicle its on.
·  Before buying privately, consider checking the caravans history on CRiS.
·  Check all the keys are available and correct.
·  Check the number plate is the same as the one on the tow vehicle. Be wary if temporary or handwritten number plates are used.
·  Always ask about built in security features such as an alarm or tracking device, caravan safe, hitch-lock or wheel clamps.

Caravan facts
Caravans manufactured since 1992 by the National Caravan Council members are recorded on the CRiS database by their unique 17 digital Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) The 17 digit vehicle identification document (VIN) should be stamped onto the caravan chassis and etched on the windows. Even if you own a pre-1992 caravan, or imported your own caravan into the UK, you can still register it with CRiS yourself. All caravans manufactures since August 1997 are electronically tagged for added security.  

Hollie Guard

Hollie Guard is a free personal safety app that can be downloaded onto any iOS or Android device.

With Hollie Guard, if ever you feel threatened, you can send out an alert by either shaking your phone or pressing the icon button. Once you activate an alert, your location along with video and audio evidence is automatically sent to your emergency contacts via SMS and/or email. Your emergency contacts can then take action to help you quickly. 

There are multiple features which can be used:

  • Journey Feature – This ensures safe travel by providing real-time updates as users move between two places.
  • Meeting Feature – Meetings allow users to identify when they are going to a meeting with a risk factor. A timer can be set, and an alert is automatically created.
  • Man Down – For users in situations where injury or personal immobilisation is a possibility by flagging sudden deceleration, non-movement & impact.
  • Reports – Reports allow users to record and geotang incidents within the app. All reports will get saved to the users account, not on the device. 

As well as all the features of Hollie Guard, you can now choose to upgrade your service to Hollie Guard Extra, a brand-new service through which an alert response centre will monitor any alerts you trigger. 

Useful Links:

Websitehttps://hollieguard.com/

Email:  info@hollieguard.com

iPhone Downloadhttp://tiny.cc/u9pioz

Android Downloadhttp://tiny.cc/l8pioz

Twitter@hollie_guard

Instagramhollieguard

DPD Scam Alert

We have received a report of a scam text message claiming to be from DPD.
The message states you have missed a delivery and asks you to follow a link to book a redelivery.
Don’t follow the link, they are after your details.

Nominated Neighbour Scheme

Nominated Neighbour scheme is designed to deter cold callers and rogue traders and can help neighbours work together to give cold callers the cold shoulder.

A bright yellow Nominated Neighbour sticker, prominently displayed shows potential callers that their identity will be checked by a trusted neighbour and they will only been seen if accompanied by a known and trusted person. 

All it takes is a neighbour, family friend or family member to agree to be nominated and any callers will be directed to them for their identity to be verified.

The scheme makes it clear to any callers that their identity will be checked, deterring those callers who are not genuine.

The nominated neighbour scheme is funded by West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner to help reduce doorstep crime. It is free and delivered to homes by the North Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership represented by Council Community Safety officers or your local police officers.

In addition to the Nominated Neighbour window sticker, a pack containing useful information on keeping safe is also provided as part of the scheme.

Further information and details of how to join the scheme can be made by  contacting Community Safety at Bromsgrove District Council by calling on 01527 534187 or email at community safety@bromsgroveandredditch.gov.uk

Do You Know What A Ghost Broker is?

Just 15% of people have heard of a ‘ghost broker’.* Do you know what one is?
Have you ever heard of a ‘ghost broker’? No, we are not talking about things that go bump in the night – this is a lot scarier. ‘Ghost brokers’ are fraudsters who sell fake or invalid car insurance policies. Victims are sold fake insurance documents for a policy that does not exist, or for a genuine policy that has been set up using false details to lower the price of the premium.

How do ‘ghost brokers’ operate?
Fraudsters lure victims in with the offer of cheaper insurance premiums, usually via social media or by word-of-mouth. These individuals or groups pose as middlemen for well-known insurance companies, claiming they can offer you legitimate car insurance at a significantly cheaper price.

This type of fraud is typically carried out either by forging insurance documents, falsifying your details to bring the price down, or by taking out a genuine policy for you but cancelling it soon after.

Often, the victim is not aware that they have been scammed until they are involved in an accident and try to claim on the policy.

Who do ‘ghost brokers’ target?
‘Ghost brokers’ tend to target vulnerable communities, including members of non-English speaking communities who may not have full knowledge of UK insurance and laws, as well as young people looking for cheaper insurance deals.

Last year, Action Fraud received 694 reports of ‘ghost broking’, with almost a third (29%) coming from victims aged 17-29. The reported losses for these victims alone totalled £113,500, with each individual losing an average of £559.

Figures also indicate that over half (58%) of all reports in 2020 were submitted by men.

What could happen if I drive without valid insurance?
As policies sold by ‘ghost brokers’ are either invalid, non-existent or fraudulent, this means that the driver is technically uninsured, meaning that you could face:

  • £300 fixed penalty notice
  • Six points on driving licence
  • Vehicle being seized and crushed

How can I protect myself from ‘ghost brokers’?
There are simple steps that you can take to spot the signs of these scams and avoid being taking for a ride by ‘ghost brokers’:

  • ‘Ghost brokers’ often advertise and communicate via social media, online forums and messaging apps. If a broker is only using a mobile phone or email as a way of contact, this can be a sign of this type of crime. Fraudsters do not want to be traced after they have taken money from their victims.
  • They may also try to sell insurance policies through print adverts in pubs, clubs or bars, newsagents
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If you are not sure about the broker, check on the Financial Conduct Authority or the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website for a list of all authorised insurance brokers. You can also contact the insurance company directly to verify the broker’s details. You can also check to see if a car appears to be insured on the Motor Insurance Database website.
  • If you think that you have been a victim of a ghost broker, you can report your concerns to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040.
  • You can also contact the Insurance Fraud Bureau via its confidential Cheatline on 0800 422 0421 or on the IFB website.

Cryptocurreny Investment Scams

Criminals will cold call consumers and convince them to share their personal details and to sign up to cryptocurrency investment websites. The consumer is then asked to make an initial minimum deposit, after which the criminal will call again to persuade them to invest more to achieve a greater profit.

Consumers have realised that they have been defrauded, but only after the website has been deactivated. The friendly person they had previously spoken to can no longer be contacted.

Action Fraud have provided these tips on how to protect yourself:

• Don’t assume it’s real – professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts don’t always mean that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can use the names of well known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.

• Don’t be rushed or pressured into deciding – a genuine bank or financial organisation won’t force you to part with your money on the spot. Always be wary if you’re pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.

• Stay in control – avoid uninvited investment offers, especially those over cold calls. If you’re thinking about making an investment, get independent advice and thoroughly research the company first

Holiday Fraud & Top Tips from ‘Which?’

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) have issued an alert to warn members of the public about the risk of holiday fraud and ticketing scams following the announcement of the government’s planned road map out of lockdown.
Any significant demands for holidays are likely to be exploited by scammers leading to an increase in holiday fraud.
Here are some top tips around holiday scams from ‘Which?’:
Incredibly cheap online deal – If the price for your flight or holiday is considerably cheaper than the average cost elsewhere, you should be suspicious.
Look out for logos – Looking out for official logos is a good way to check the authenticity of holiday booking, travel agent and tour operators. Seeing the ATOL logo in your travel company’s brochures, adverts and websites should mean your holiday will be protected.
Watch out for fake listings – Check out if a property exists by using Google Street View to see the property and the area. You can also use Google Images Reverse Search to see if the interior photos have been used elsewhere on the internet for other property listings.
Bank transfer – If a bank transfer is your only option for payment, this should set alarm bells ringing. You should be especially cautious if you’re asked to pay directly into a private individual’s bank account. Not only does this show no bank is prepared to provide credit card facilities, but – if you’re dealing with a scammer – it will be almost impossible to get your money back.Check online reviews – Do a thorough search to check the company’s credentials. Check multiple reviews for information on other people’s experiences and take note of any warnings about the company.

Do you have scam mail?

Please write the date you received the mail on its envelope, then pop it into any mailbag or envelope and send to the National Trading Standards Team using this address:
FREEPOST
NTSST
MAIL MARSHALS

Malware alert: beware of fake delivery company text messages

A text-message scam that infects Android mobile phones with malicious software (malware) is targeting people in the UK.

The text message, which pretends to be from a delivery company, includes a link that claims to allow you to track a parcel.

However, this is an attempt to infect your phone with malware, which occurs if the link is clicked on. The scam text has been received by customers on all major UK networks. One example of this text, shown below, claims to be from DHL.

A screenshot of the ‘Flubot’ scam text

The malware, called Flubot, can allow criminals to access personal information on your phone, including online banking details.

If you receive one of these text messages, take the following steps:

  1. DO NOT press the link.
  2. Report the text by forwarding it to 7726.
  3. Delete the text from your phone.

If you think you have fallen victim to this scam, contact your provider as soon as possible, as well as Action Fraud, the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Reports of fraud and any other financial crime in Scotland should be reported to the police via 101.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also published advice for people who may have been affected by this scam.

Meet Your Local Policing Team

Bromsgrove North Safer Neighbourhood Team will be in Fairfield (outside the Cafe) Thursday 22nd April from 6pm for 1hr. Please come and say hello. Share any concerns or seek advice that is needed.
A representative from FVCA, your local Neighbourhood Watch Group, will also be present.

Vulnerable people targeted by fraud gangs

In the last few days, more attempts to defraud people have been reported to the police, with some victims handing over thousands of pounds. West Mercia Police are aware that criminals, pretending to be police officers are targeting people in Shropshire and North Worcestershire in a scam known as ‘Courier Fraud’. Again, the victims are elderly and vulnerable people.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “Sadly, these predators are again targeting vulnerable people who may not have seen the news recently or aware of media and police reports about this scam.

“I urge everyone who has elderly or vulnerable relatives to please give them call, call over the fence to their neighbour or remind them if they pop into your shop that the police will never, ever, call you and instruct you to withdraw your cash. No officer will ever ask for you to travel to a bank and hand over your money as part of an investigation, if a loved one is in custody or if your account has been compromised. These are all lies.

“These criminals are significant members of organised crime gangs with the confidence and the experience to be very convincing and ‘Courier Fraud’ is just one element of their criminal activities. But we can defeat them in one simple act: hanging up the phone. No police officer will telephone your granny, your dad or you and ask for your money. They are lying, they are criminals and you can beat them by ending the call.

“So please, tell anyone you think needs to know, that no police officer from any force or department will ever ask you to hand over money or transfer funds, regardless of their name or unit. If you work in a bank, you can help us by using the Banking Protocol and preventing vulnerable people who potential victims of fraud from withdrawing large amounts of cash to hand over to couriers in these scams. Please alert us if you suspect a vulnerable person is withdrawing cash for this purpose, so we can check they are not a victim. I would like to reassure people in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Worcestershire that we are investigating these crimes and these gangs and want to hear from anyone who has been contacted in this way”

“If the crime is still in progress, because for example, you have recently provided bank details or handed over cards or cash or are going to visit your bank or the caller has arranged for someone to visit your address to collect items, you should call the police to report this on 101. In an emergency dial 999.”

“Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card, details, cash or ask you to go to a bank to withdraw cash. If someone does, it’s a scam – provide no details and hand nothing over, hang up, wait ten minutes then call 101.”