Scams are crimes that con, swindle or cheat people out of their hard earned money. They can take place over the phone, by letter, via email or even following a knock on the door.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam you should report it to Action Fraud.
Recent scams affecting Merton residents and businesses
Security alarm potential scam
We have received reports that security companies have been cold calling Merton residents offering to carry out installation of security alarms. In some cases people have been told that these companies are affiliated with the police and that the alarms provided connect directly to the police station. This is NOT true.
If you have been approached or wish to discuss this matter please call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. Alternatively you can contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) to report any suspicious behaviour. You can find out who your local SNT is on the Metropolitan Police website.
A local resident has received a telephone call from a man who falsely claimed he was from Microsoft. The scammer said there was a problem with her computer and proceeded to gain control of the machine. As he may have installed viruses or malware, the computer has had to be wiped and re-built at considerable expense. He also obtained bank details which allowed him to take nearly £200 from the resident's bank account.
Please be aware that computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls offering to fix your computer. As with any cold call, be extremely wary and do not give out any personal information. For further information on computer scams, go to the Action Fraud website.
Scams aimed at businesses
We have recently had a number of complaints from Merton traders who have been contacted by bogus advertising and publications companies. This is one of many scams aimed at small businesses which are using increasingly sophisticated methods to try and trick traders into paying out money for little or nothing in return. Visit the Action Fraud website for more information on how companies can protect themselves against these cons.
Fake loan scam
Residents are being warned to look out for loan companies trying to con them out of money following an increase in complaints to Merton Trading Standards.
Business rates and council tax scams
We are aware of several scams where residents and businesses have been contacted regarding bogus council tax refunds and business rates rebates. In many cases victims are being asked for credit card, bank or address details in order to make repayments. Business rates and council tax can be reduced in certain circumstances but the council will not ask you for payment or credit card details upfront in this way. For further information on reductions available, please visit the council tax or business rates pages.
If you have been contacted or suspect a scam, please call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
Clothing collection scam
Donating old clothes and unwanted goods to charity is a great way of helping those in need. 'Clothing collection' leaflets are regularly dropped through letterboxes in Merton and householders are asked to leave donations in a plastic bag by the front door. This can be the ideal way to clear clutter with the least fuss. However, some of these leaflets are not quite what they seem and could mislead you into donating to commercial organisations rather than charities.
To help sort the charities from the profit makers, look out for the following:
- Is the organiser's full address and telephone number given on the leaflet?
- Does the leaflet or collecting bag show a registered charity number? This should not be confused with a 'Company Reg. No.', which is usually a limited company number. If you are in any doubt, call the Charities Commission Helpline on 0845 300 0218 or visit the Charity Commission Website to check an organisation's charitable status.
- It's perfectly legal for a professional fundraising company to collect on behalf of a charity but it must say how much of the donation will actually go to the charity.
- If an organisation is collecting on behalf of a charity then it should name the charity in any fundraising material. 'Needy orphans' and 'Sick kids' isn't specific enough!
- If you still have doubts, give direct to a local charity shop instead
Other scams to watch out for
Check out the Citizen's Advice Bureau website for other common scams affecting consumers and advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. If you have lost money to a scam you should report it to Action Fraud.
Merton Civic Centre
Telephone: 020 8545 3025
The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.