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Opinion: Beware of scams going on across Ealing and what to do to avoid becoming a victim

Leader of Ealing Liberal Democrats, Councillor Gary Malcolm offers advice and guidance on what to watch out for and how to deal with scams that impact Ealing residents as well top tips from the police to ensure you don’t become a victim.

“Recently a business owner in Ealing contacted me to report what she thought was a scam. I visited her and she explained the situation.

“Basically, she had made an enquiry with Ealing Council about reducing her business rates due to a revaluation that was required. With a few minutes of the phone call ending, she was phoned by someone offering their services to represent her with the Council to ‘guarantee’ to reduce her business rates.

“She thought the caller was related to the Council – but she was wrong. A few minutes later she had paid a £5 administration fee and made a verbal agreement with them. A few weeks later she received a bill for £900 for work done to help her. Though, no work had been done. She later received a court order due to not having paid the money.

“Luckily, she had closed the new bank account so no more money could be transferred from the account. I gave advise that the Council do not use third parties for this type of activity. Also, it was likely from other information that her personal phone had been tracked so her calls could be ‘watched’.

“Although the person doing the scamming had a track record of committing fraud and theft many times over it seemed that many other businesses or residents can get scammed when they receive unexpected phone calls. If you suspect that a caller may be offering something too good to be true, please make more checks to verify the caller or just ignore the caller.

“More recently I attended a public meeting with the local police team who were updating residents about their activities over the past few months including violence against women, dumped Lime bikes and robberies near Acton Common Green.

“Each ward in Ealing borough has a Safer Neighbourhood Team made up of a few police officers – usually a sergeant, a PC and a PCSO. Their role is to understand your ward and help deal with issues that residents and Councillors think need more attention spent on.

“In the meeting, which was chaired by a local resident, the police handed out advice on how to avoid being scammed. Some of the Met police’s top tips to help you prevent fraud and beat the scammers are these:

  • Always log on to a website directly rather than clicking on links in an email.
  • Don’t agree to offers or deals immediately. Insist on time to get independent or legal advice before making a decision.
  • Don’t hand over money or sign anything until you’ve checked someone’s credentials and their company’s.
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust, whether in the UK or abroad, or use methods of payment you’re not comfortable with.
  • Never give banking or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust. This information is valuable so make sure you protect it.

So, if you think you’ve uncovered a scam, been targeted by a scam or fallen victim to fraudsters, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or call the police on 101.

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