Criminals Scam Residents in Stockport

Beware of online scammers

COUNCIL bosses are warning residents to be aware of criminal scams currently operating in the borough.

The advice was issued following a number of recent complaints from residents who have been approached by cold caller ‘businesses’ and to be cautious of making on-line payments and giving bank details to fraudsters that claim they can do things cheaper.

In one instance Stockport Council was contacted by a resident who thought he had made a payment on-line for his council tax after searching on Google to pay. However, it transpired he ended up paying a significant amount of money to a scam on-line ‘business’.

The authority suggest that the safest and most secure way to do this is by setting up a direct debit. Payments can also be accepted on-line but ensure these are made by an on-line payment via the council website at select Council Tax then select on-line payments.

Another scam involves residents receiving a call from a ‘business’ that claims to run a service preventing cold calls to their phone number. Residents are told that they are already paying £5 a month for this service and that the ‘business’ can now offer this at half price. The caller then requests the residents banking details. This scam has the sole purpose of obtaining banking details which can then be misused or sold on to criminals.

The third scam was uncovered after residents received calls from persons purporting to be from a government department or Stockport Council.  The residents are told that they need to change their boiler and that they can do this free of charge as part of a government scheme. If the resident shows an interest then the business makes an appointment for an “expert” to audit the existing boiler and to apply for the new one on the resident’s behalf.

The ‘business’ typically then asks for a fee up front of up to £200. The scam is that having parted with the money the resident may never hear anything again from the business. More complex versions of the scam include signing up the consumer for worthless service contracts or for payment to do additional work on the central heating system.

Residents should be aware that government grants for replacing old and inefficient boilers are available but are dependant on people meeting the qualification criteria which is based on the personal circumstances of the individual concerned.

And finally some local residents have opened their mail to find a “parking charge notice” from bogus car parking enforcement businesses. The notices can be quite intimidating and typically demand £65 or more.

Consumers are advised to look carefully at the parking notice – in many instances  the picture and registration of the vehicle are incorrect and some residents have claimed that the apparent parking violation occurred in a part of the country they have never visited. The so called ‘notices’ are clearly designed to frighten people into paying a fictitious parking charge.

Councillor Martin Candler, the executive member for communities and sustainability, said “Stockport residents should be on the lookout for these scams and should give the scammers a wide berth if approached.”

Residents are also urged to report scams to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.