Scammers continue to find more creative ways to get your cash. This guide can never be completely comprehensive with all the latest scams but we aim to help you to learn what to look out for. The stories around the scams may change, but what you should do to spot and avoid them doesn’t.
Have you ever heard of the email from a Nigerian prince wanting you to share his fortune? The person stranded overseas needing £1,000 to get home which they’ll pay straight back? Or the lottery you’ve won in Spain – even though you don’t live there, and have never entered a lottery there?
The best way to prevent scammers from getting their hands on your hard-earned cash is to know how to protect yourself in the first place. Here are our top tips on how to avoid scams. They aren’t all fail-safes, but they can help you think before you act.
Rule of thumb: Mistaking the genuine for a scam is nowhere near as bad as mistaking a scam for the genuine.
Scams currently common in the UK
There are 1,000s of ways scammers try to catch you out. Common methods include:
- Calls from someone claiming to be from a Government department or representative (or even MSE!), talking about reclaiming bank charges.
- Pension ‘liberation’ (more info in our Release Pension Cash guide).
- Vishing – where scammers tell you they’re from your bank and there’s been fraud on your account, asking you to call them back, but instead they wait on the line and then get you to hand over bank details.
- Miracle cures or miracle weight-loss pills – ketones are common, and appear on many people’s Facebook pages.
- Fake bank or Apple emails saying you need to re-verify your account details.
- Investment scams (the FCA has a site helping you to spot investment scammers – ScamSmart, which includes a database of dodgy companies to avoid)
- Deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes.
- Get-rich-quick schemes.
- Fake court summons emails (more on this at Action Fraud).
- Job scams – the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Jobs site has advice for job-hunters, employees, employers, plus it lets you report suspected scams.
- Fake calls from someone pretending to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service asking for personal financial details. The ombudsman will never call you out of the blue to ask for information – it’ll only be in touch if you’ve got a case with it already.
You can find out more about financial scams on the Financial Conduct Authority‘s website or for scams in general, see the Metropolitan Police’s Little Book of Big Scams, or the Citizens Advice website.
Visit https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/stop-scams/#tips for more detail
The National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ – the Government’s cyber and security agency) has launched a suspicious email reporting service to take phishing scams down – all you have to do is forward suspicious emails to its email@example.com email address.
Once you’ve reported a suspicious email, the NCSC will analyse it and any websites it links to. If it believes it’s malicious, NCSC may:
- Seek to block the address the email came from, so it can no longer send emails.
- Work with hosting companies to remove links to malicious websites.
- Raise awareness of commonly reported suspicious emails and methods used.
While the NCSC is unable to inform you of the outcome of its review, it has assured us that it acts upon every message received – as an example, within the first week, the new service received over 25,000 reports and, as a direct result, it has already removed over 400 phishing campaigns.
There will be countless lessons that we take away from this time of isolation brought about by Corona Virus – many positive, as well as some less so.
The creativity and innovation, for example, that has opened up new possibilities for our virtual ways of meeting together will no doubt leave a lasting mark on how we work in future, not least for Embrace with its partners across the Middle East.
Meeting via a video link to pray with our Middle Eastern colleagues has been an enriching experience for us, and has helped us to feel more connected with them. It seems odd now that we didn’t think to do this earlier, but I’m sure it is a pattern that will continue.
For many of the families that Embrace’s partners serve though, the connectivity that the internet provides is a luxury that they do not have.
As a mother of three, I have been really challenged during this period of experimental home-schooling just how hard it is to do! Especially when you have children of different ages, each with differing needs, and all of whom need constant attention and support (and cajoling).
How much harder must it be then, if you are an illiterate parent living in overcrowded living quarters with other extended family members, where you sleep and eat in the same room, and when your principal worry is about how to put a meal before your family each day?
For many families in Lebanon, this is the grim reality: not only for the >1 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees who continue to reside in the country, but for many poor Lebanese families too.
Even before the onset of Coronavirus, Lebanon was already in crisis-mode. The national economic emergency, which had been smouldering for months, came to a head in October 2019 when people took to the streets to protest years of mismanagement of their public resources. The country has been in a state of near political and economic paralysis ever since, with a public debt burden equivalent to 170% of GDP and unemployment levels steadily soaring.
For several months now, Embrace’s local partners have been giving out food parcels to many of the beneficiary families they serve as they struggle to cope – indeed survive – in such circumstances.
Then along came Covid-19. If you were a daily-wage worker dependent on an irregular income before, the chances of earning money to feed your family now become nigh impossible due to the restrictions imposed as a result of this global health emergency.
In this context, contemplating the educational needs of your children surely slips down the list of priorities – not least because you have limited or no resources at your disposal with which to teach them. As we shared with you last week, our partners are working hard to overcome this obstacle but it can be very difficult; as Tahaddi reported: “Teaching remotely is a challenge when families have a phone for 10 or more persons, or no phone, or no more money to charge the phone…”
It is therefore, I think, a great testimony to the skill, creativity and commitment of Embrace’s partners that instead of being fazed by the challenge of distance learning they chose to rise to it. Partners like Tahaddi who work in a crowded, deprived area in Beirut and are conducting lessons over whatsapp.
But sadly – and unsurprisingly – this way of learning isn’t without its frustrations. Some 20% of the children that Tahaddi works with do not even have access to a phone, and so they are by default excluded from this home learning strategy. For the “lucky” ones that do, the phone must be shared with other family members, including several siblings who belong to different classes. Frequently the internet fails, or the pay-as-you-go bundle has been consumed and there is no money to renew it, or the father whom the phone belongs to has finally got a day’s work and takes the phone with him.
The Tahaddi team are doing what they can with the little that they have though, and they are determined to keep going. They do this because they are driven by an overwhelming compassion and deep conviction to serve this community on the margins. Their mission is one of hope; the approach is one of solidarity and sincere love.
As I reflect on my own “challenges”, I am humbled and inspired by their tenacity and courage to stay faithful to their commitment to serve. For me, this truly is a lesson in love.
For more inspiring stories and reflections, please download a digital copy of the Embrace magazine. You can do so here:
Find out more about JPIT’s Stay and Pray initiative during the Covid-19 crisis:
A very useful page with a number of different “helps” on it.
If you’re overwhelmed, angry, fearful, exhausted, anxious about the coronavirus crisis, or afraid of dying, check out this helpful video from Bible Society, produced for Good Friday, but applicable any time:-
To see other Bible Society films, visit https://www.youtube.com/user/biblesocietytv
As part of our general safeguarding, we encourage people to share news of scams that are doing the rounds so that there is less likelihood of anyone being taken in by them.
News this week is of an email supposedly coming from TV Licensing saying that your licence renewal hasn’t gone through your bank, or your licence expires today and you must renew it now. They always ask you to click on a link to renew it. As with all these “phishing” scams, don’t click!
Which? magazine says:
Our phishing emails advice
As always, we’d urge everyone to always be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of a scam email.
They try to rush you into clicking through to a fake website which will ask for your bank details.
Always double check the sender’s email address, the wording and the branding used. If an email has made you feel uneasy, go with your gut and contact the company it’s purporting to be from via its official channels – or ask a trusted friend.
If you think you may have been a victim of this scam, contact your bank immediately and let it know what’s happened.
Wycombe Homeless Connection update 9 April 2020
We do hope you and all your loved ones and friends are keeping well and we would like to wish you all a very happy Easter.
We had hoped to see any of you at our annual service of celebration at the end of April but this will now not be going ahead.
We will be emailing more news and updates rather than just about volunteering news for a while now, keeping you all up to date on how everything is going. If you don’t want to receive these emails anymore, just let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or giving us a call on 01494 447699.
We want to start with a good news story for you:
We’ve known F for quite a while. He was in our night shelter this year and had been regularly arriving for his spot, getting a meal, a bed for the night and breakfast.
We knew F had sustained a hip injury a little while back that had been treated. But one evening, he arrived at the night shelter complaining that he was in a lot of pain. So we got him back to hospital where sadly it was found his hip was injured again. F had to stay hospital for a number of weeks for surgery and treatment.
F progressed well under the amazing care of the NHS team but the time soon came for him to be discharged.
While F had been in hospital, we had closed the night shelter as the scale of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic became clear and we quickly decided we couldn’t continue to run it and keep our guests and volunteers safe from the virus.
So our Homeless Health Worker worked closely with the hospital and made sure that on discharge he had somewhere safe to go. We settled him into a local bed and breakfast where he could continue his recovery. We’re checking with him regularly to make sure he has what he needs. And he is doing so much better now. His hip is continuing to improve.
What’s happened since our last update
- We’ve been busy on the phones and online talking to people who have needed help and advice with a housing crisis.
- We’ve been continuing to work to find people who are in our temporary accommodation more permanent homes and have moved some guests into supported living in the last few weeks alone.
- A small team of our volunteers have been asked to make calls to our guests from their home, just to keep in touch and see if they have everything they need, check on them regularly and give them a chance for a conversation.
- All our food parcels are now being organised by One Can Trust from their stocks. We’re lending a hand, delivering them to our guests which is one more way we are keeping in touch with them.
- We’ve brought back the blog on our website so you can read stories of the people WHC are helping right now. https://www.wyhoc.org.uk/Blogs/blog We’ve popped a story on the end of this email for you.
How we are doing for money
We’ve had quite a few questions about how we are doing for funding. The commitment from the government to cover the cost of emergency accommodation for people who would be on the street came at just the right time. We already had moved everyone we knew was street homeless into safe accommodation when we shut the shelter in early March. This meant and we were spending upwards of £4000 a week until the start of April when the government took over.
However, other costs are up and a looming problem is that all the fundraising events our community hold on our behalf have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. And we anticipate the need for our services will grow as the measures put in place to prevent evictions and house people who are street homeless come to an end.
That means we still need donations, especially regular gifts, so please do keep sharing our stories, news and appeal so everyone in our community can see the difference they can make. You can make our messages reach much further than we can – so thank you! Visit our website got more; www.wyhoc.org.uk/donate
Thank you for what you are doing to care for the vulnerable
Because of the support we receive from our community, for weeks we have known that every person who has needed a bed, has had one. And when we meet anyone else who has no choice but to sleep on the street, we are getting them a safe place as soon as we can.
We have been able to build a great partnership with our local authorities and other local frontline organisations. Together, we decided when it became clear how serious this pandemic would be to put people into accommodation and straighten out who would pay for what later and we believe this has saved lives. It is good to now have clarity from the government over where some money will be coming from to help pay for all of this.
But the need for our services has never been greater
We are continuing to run our homeless health project, our homelessness prevention hotline, our outreach support services and all our support services to make sure everyone has what they need wherever they are staying. More and more people are coming to us for help every day for many reasons.
This is T’s story:
It was a couple of weeks back, just as the severity of the coronavirus pandemic was becoming clear that we met T.
T was sleeping rough at Wycombe train station. We went to find him and listened to him about how he had become homeless. It became immediately clear he didn’t have any options for finding somewhere to stay safe.
In halting English, T told us he was from Poland, and desperately wanted to go home. But having no money to do so, and having lost his passport, he simply didn’t know what to do.
We got straight to work. We knew that the Polish Embassy in London were organising repatriation for people who wanted to go home but didn’t have the means to do so. We worked with them to get him a space on the next coach and organised a seven-day passport so he could travel.
Next, we sorted T out with some food and spare clothes for the journey and arranged a taxi to take him to the Embassy.
Unfortunately, on arrival at the embassy, the team there were concerned T wasn’t well, and could potentially have the virus so, wisely, couldn’t let him on the coach.
But what was he to do next? He didn’t have a place to stay and self-isolate.
Again, we worked with the Embassy to find and pay for a room in a hotel, local to the Embassy. We knew that if he did have the coronavirus he would need to stay isolated for a week so paid for at least that long a stay. The next hurdle was organising food. We asked the hotel if they could help and they did. The team at the hotel stepped up and agreed to support him with food while he isolated in a room.
Just a couple of days ago, T came out of isolation and returned to the embassy where they were able to then get him home.
So he’s now safe, back where there are people he knows, and speak his language, so getting help and staying well will be easier for him.
Our aim is always to get people off the streets as soon as possible and we know it makes a real difference when we can get someone back to their home, especially at such a time of crisis.
More and more people are turning to us for help every day, and with your support we can keep making a difference to people like T.
We have brought back our stories section on our website and will be putting stories like T’s on there about as often as possible. We’ll also keep sharing them with you in these updates and on our social media channels.
- For T and people like him who want to return home but are not able to do so.
- For all those who either don’t have a home, aren’t sure they will keep their home, and those who are unsafe in their home.
- For everyone struggling with isolation and loneliness.
- For the safety and wellbeing of every single person who is helped by our services and our staff and trustees.
- Give thanks for the generosity and support shown to the people we serve.
Financial gifts are more vital than ever
The number of people contacting Wycombe Homeless Connection for help is still growing. And many of our fundraising activities have been postponed or cancelled. A large portion of our funds comes from community fundraisers, events, and at this time we are not sure if our most important event of the year, the Big Sleepout, will be able to go ahead or not.
We need help to ensure our services are here for the long term as well as right now. You can give online, by cheque, via standing order or by bank transfer. All the details are on our website www.wyhocorg.uk/donate or please call 01494 447699 or email us on email@example.com if you would like any help. Every single gift makes a difference.
Keeping in touch
We will be keeping you all up to date on how everything is going. Do also keep an eye on our website and social media.
Local charities are needed more than ever, yet their funding is shrinking because events are cancelled and some supporters just don’t have the funds to spare.
Locally Trinity particularly supports Wycombe Homeless Connection, One Can Food Bank Trust and Wycombe Refugee Partnership. If you’re able to provide extra help at this time, do visit their websites:
God of grace,
When we cry out to you in our pain
Help us to hear the whisper of Jesus our Lord:
“ I am here beside you”.
Lend us your strength, we pray
Shoulder our burden, our sin, our pain
and transform it through your undying love.
(c) Ruth Whitehead
The link for our virtual worship on Sunday 29 March is:
FROM ACTION FRAUD
What scams are we seeing?
The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products, which have never arrived. Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud
Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online at https://www.actionfraud.
To report offers of financial assistance from HMRC contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following reports of Covid-19 related scams Thames Valley Police and Action Fraud are urging the public to remain vigilant against criminals using the publicity around the coronavirus as a chance to target their victims with fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages or door to door services.
Do look out for your friends, family and neighbours.
There are examples of communities working together to help local residents and Action Fraud don’t want to discourage this so they ask that people consider the following advice to avoid falling victim fraudsters:
They are aware of people knocking on the doors of elderly and vulnerable people offering to shop or other services for them and then taking money without providing what they have offered.
• If you can only accept help from people you are familiar with or who can prove who they are.
• Do not hand over a bank card or large sums of cash to anyone on your doorstep.
• Please look out for your neighbours and family members who may not have access to social media and therefore will not be receiving this information.
Watch out for scam messages:
A number of online scams offering fake services are being reported nationally.
Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.
Coronavirus Testing Kits
Action Fraud are aware that some may be trying to sell fake coronavirus tests. At this time the public are not being offered COVID-19 tests to purchase and no companies have been deployed to carry out checks in homes or businesses, this will be a scam.
If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber-crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040
Coronavirus update: United Reformed Church House will be closed from March 20. Please use direct dial numbers or email the relevant person (bit.ly/URCcontacts). The URC Bookshop will also be closed. Thank you for your understanding.
Click here to join us for our first service streamed online!
Thank you to all who participated in our virtual worship this morning. If you weren’t able to join us this morning, Sunday 22nd March, we hope that you will be able to watch this particular service on YouTube at another time.
For our first attempt at streaming it went very well and we will get better at it! Thanks be to God for all the different gifts and talents that within a few days created a church service of worship to God, prayer for the world and reflection on these turbulent times. You should be able to “tune in” with the same link in the following weeks.
Bible verses of hope
From the New Testament book of Romans chapter 8 verses 38 and 39 (Contemporary English Version)
38 I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39 and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!
From Sunday 22 March at 10am, an additional post will go out from the URC Daily Devotions, a radio-style / podcast service with hymns, readings, prayers and a sermon. Sign up at https://devotions.urc.org.uk/announcements/2017/10/22/linking-daily-devotions-to-church-websites/
The Sunday Service email will contain an order of service and words for you to sing along with the hymns.
There will also be additional services during Holy Week.
|COMMUNICATION FROM MARTIN TETT,LEADER OF THE SHADOW EXECUTIVE, BUCKS COUNTY COUNCIL
I would like to update you on what we are doing across the councils in Buckinghamshire in response to Coronavirus, what you can do to protect yourself and others, and how you can become involved in supporting your community.
Firstly, my thoughts are with all people in Buckinghamshire who have been negatively impacted in any way by this crisis. These are difficult and very challenging times. This makes it even more important that we come together to support each other. We’re already seeing so much fantastic work going on across the county.
The current situation will no doubt test and stretch our ability, but the council is committed to providing community leadership and support wherever possible.
|What are we doing?
The Coronavirus outbreak is of deep concern to everyone in Buckinghamshire. We are working together, across all the councils in Buckinghamshire, with Public Health England and the Department for Health and Social Care to tackle the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak to support our residents, communities, businesses and schools during this difficult time.
We are closely following government guidance to provide accurate and up to date information. We are well-prepared for these situations and have robust plans in place to focus on keeping essential services running to look after our elderly, the most vulnerable, children, and safeguard local communities.
As the impact of Coronavirus increases, we may need to make some temporary changes to some services. This is so we can protect people from infection and use our staff and resources where they are most needed. It is important that we communicate any changes to residents and ongoing engagement with communities will be a priority. Information about any service changes will be released to the press and published on our website www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk.
We know that some of you will still want to get in touch face to face so, for now, we are keeping our main libraries and council offices open to answer your questions and provide advice. You can see which libraries are open at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/libraries
We are also keeping our country parks open with no parking charges so you can get out for some fresh air and stay healthy.
|How can you help?
It’s crucial at times like this that everyone pulls together. In Bucks we are proud of our local communities and the voluntary and community work they do. I am truly humbled by the number of people and organisations coming forward and volunteering to help others in their towns and villages.
We know people, particularly if they are in isolation, are going to need support with practical things like getting medicines, doing grocery shopping, or caring for beloved pets, as well as dealing with the mental effects. The voluntary and community sectors will have a key role to play in supporting people.
If you are healthy and looking at ways you can help, take a look at our central community hub. This can be found on our new website at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus
We are also looking for people with skills. Visit our website and complete the ‘I want to be involved’ form at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus
If you are a vulnerable or older person who is self-isolating, or know of someone who needs help get in touch with us; visit www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus
|Watch our short animation HERE|
|What you can do to protect yourself and others
It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect ourselves, our families and others around us.
1. Try to stay calm – be prepared and plan for the self-isolation of yourself or others but avoid panic buying so that others are not faced with empty shelves. Supermarkets inform us that there are no shortages. I have written today to all the major supermarket companies in Bucks asking them to offer priority personal and online shopping to the elderly and key vulnerable groups.
2. Stay healthy – there are lots of ways to stay healthy. Get outside and go for a walk in one on our country parks or visit National Trust parks for free but do maintain a safe distance from other people.
3. Be alert to the symptoms and follow the government guidance – maintain good hygiene, reduce non-essential contact and stay at home if you have either:
• A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
It is particularly important for people who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant to follow this advice as much as possible.
Find out more here: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.
|Support our NHS
If you are worried about your symptoms it is important that you do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. This could spread the infection and put our doctors and health services at risk.
Go to https://111.nhs.uk/ or if you cannot go online call 111. This is so we can keep phone lines free for those who need it most.
The government have also advised that testing for Coronavirus is not needed if you are staying at home. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you are staying at home, but if you are concerned about your symptoms and need urgent medical help call 999.
|Keep up to date
Advice is changing all the time. There is a lot of information being shared about Coronavirus. There is a lot of misleading or even ‘fake news’, particularly online.
Make sure the information you are following is from a trusted source – the government, NHS or Public Health England. For local information follow our social media and keep an eye on our webpage www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.
We are also writing to our vulnerable and older people who use our services to make sure they have the information they need to stay safe and well.
|Supporting Bucks businesses
I am aware that Buckinghamshire is a county of many businesses from the very large to the very small. These are very difficult times for companies and the many people who work for them.
We are channelling support through the local Buckinghamshire business ‘hub’, Bucks Business First (BBF), as details are confirmed.
If you are a company who wants advice on current local or government support, such as that announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, find out more via BBF at www.bbf.uk.com/covid-19.
|The new Buckinghamshire Council
God of grace,
When we cry out to you in our pain
Help us to hear the whisper of Jesus our Lord:
“ I am here beside you”.
Lend us your strength, we pray
Shoulder our burden, our sin, our pain
and transform it through your undying love.
(c) Ruth Whitehead
In the midst of a storm,
You said, ‘Peace be still.’
Bid our anxious fears subside,
Sustain your church in faith, hope and love,
Bring our nation through this tumult,
Grant wisdom to those with heavy responsibilities,
And healing and hope to those who are infected.
a very present help in trouble.’
Psalm 46:1, NRSV
As so much is re-shaped by Coronavirus Covid 19, let us pray with
Living, loving God,
Even as we strive to behave responsibly,
News release – 18 March 2020
Following advice we are closing the church building for worship for the present time. We aim to provide a broadcast mini-service on a Sunday morning at 10.30 am so please visit our “what’s on” page for more information.
We encourage everyone to pray at this time of turmoil – there are plenty of good resources around both for prayer and worship. We place our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and pray for everyone so deeply affected.
Please also see “what’s on” for up-to-date information.
Prayer for a Pandemic
May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or paying their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country – let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.
Take a look at the video here (produced by ITN and Jerusalem Productions) – Christmas begins with Christ: