A scam is a dishonest scheme designed to cheat and con you out of your money. It may take the form of bogus or fraudulent offers sent by post, telephone or email.
Every year the British public loses billions of pounds to 'scammers', who bombard people with online, mail, door-to-door and telephone scams.
Examples of scams include:
- fake lottery
- fake prize draw wins
- online dating sites with fake profiles
- bogus psychic predictions
- get-rich-quick investment cons
- ‘miracle’ health cures
Redbridge Trading Standards aims to achieve a fair, safe trading environment with informed and confident consumers. We protect the interests of our local residents, businesses and visitors. We enforce and advise on a wide range of consumer protection legislation.
We advise the following:
- be wary of websites that offer high discounts on electrical items such as iPads, televisions, game consoles
- if a company calls up to say that their payment machine has failed and could you pay by another method – be suspicious
- remember that you have a 14 day cooling-off period to cancel any purchases made ‘at a distance’ (which covers the internet and email)
Illegal money lending
Legitimate credit providers and money lenders are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Any Illegal money lenders, often called loan sharks, who operate in London should be reported to the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), a National Trading Standards service.
What is a loan shark?
A loan shark is someone who lends money without a required authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority. They are unlikely to give any paperwork and if payments are missed they may use intimidation, threats and violence to get money from their 'clients'.
The Illegal Money Lending Team can provide help and advice in confidence. If you have borrowed money from a loan shark you haven’t broken the law – chances are, they have. Loan sharks charge exorbitant interest and prey upon vulnerable people. Call the illegal money lending team hotline to speak in complete confidence. They will provide help and advice to help you take back control.
Call the illegal money lending team on 0300 555 2222 - to safely and anonymously report a loan shark or visit
www.stoploansharks.co.uk for more information
Illegal tobacco sales
Our trading standards teams are working hard to fight against the sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco. The sale of illegal tobacco products undermines health objectives because those that sell it avoid high taxation and labelling rules and steal business away from legitimate tobacco sellers. The content of the products is not guaranteed and may not be safe. There are also fire safety implications as illicit cigarettes do not comply with requirements to reduce the chances of un-attended lit cigarettes starting a fire. The availability of cheap illicit products encourages children into smoking with potential addiction and lifetime impact on their health. In summary cheap and readily available illegal tobacco keeps people smoking.
If you wish to report any traders dealing in illicit tobacco visit www.londontradingstandards.org.uk and search for the consumer crime report tool
Selling fake goods is a criminal offence that not only harms legitimate businesses, but leaves consumers with sub-standard goods which are often unsafe.
For anyone caught selling fakes it is not just the goods that they lose, their whole livelihood is at risk:
- A prison sentence could be imposed of up to 10 years
- An unlimited fine could be imposed
- Homes, possessions and other assets could be confiscated as proceeds of crime
If you wish to report anyone selling counterfeit goods visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk and search for contact consumer helpline
Lettings agents and property management
Since October 2014 all letting and property management agents have been required to be a member of a Government approved redress scheme. The scheme enables an approved third party to arbitrate disputes between agents and tenants. The Council can issue a penalty notice of up to £5,000 to any agent who is not a member or who fails to clearly display a notice stating which scheme they have joined at their premises and on their website.
Tenant fee ban
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 bans most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants in the private rented sector in England and applies to new or renewed tenancy agreements signed on or after 1 June 2019. The government guidance on the Act for tenants, landlords and letting agents helps explain how this legislation affects them. The aim of the Act is to reduce the costs that tenants can face at the outset, and throughout, a tenancy. Tenants will be able to see, at a glance, what a given property will cost them in the advertised rent with no hidden costs. From 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants in relation to new contracts are:
- a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or 6 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above
- a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than 1 week’s rent
- payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- payments capped at £50 (or reasonably incurred costs, if higher) for the variation, assignment or novation of a tenancy
- payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax
- a default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement
A breach of the legislation will usually be a civil offence with a financial penalty of up to £5,000, but if a further breach is committed within 5 years this will be a criminal offence. The penalty for the criminal offence, which is a banning order offence under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, is an unlimited fine. Where an offence is committed, local authorities may instead choose to impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution. A tenant cannot be evicted using the section 21 eviction procedure until any unlawfully charged fees are returned or has returned any unlawfully retained holding deposit.
Client money protection
Since 1st April 2019 Letting Agents are now required to hold client's money in a separate account. Client Money Protection (CMP) schemes protect the money of landlords and tenants in the event of a letting or property agent going into administration and against theft or misappropriation by the agent whilst it is in their custody or control. If an agent fails to comply with the legal requirement to become a member of an approved CMP scheme they may be liable for a penalty of up to £30,000. An agent may also be liable for a penalty of up to £5,000 for failing to comply with the legal requirement to display their certificate of membership from an approved CMP scheme. Trading Standards can issue fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.
Unfair contract term
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 contains provisions which means that unfair contract terms are not binding on consumers, which can include tenants. A term may be deemed unfair if it is contrary to the requirement of good faith, or it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract to the detriment of the consumer.
If you would like to report a letting or property management agent for any of the above you can send an email to email@example.com
Reporting a scam
Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report:
- attempted fraud
- cyber crime
This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for businesses, charities and organisations. When you report you will receive a Police crime reference number.
If you are a victim of fraud you can obtain advice to on what to do next from the Citizen Advice Consumer Service. All information received by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service relating to Redbridge will be passed on to our team for further action or monitoring.
Protect your personal information and bank details
If you are concerned about the legitimacy of a person who contacts you, either in person or over the phone, such as:
- a Trading Standards Officer
- another Council Officer or
- a tax inspector
Take precautions and check their credentials before disclosing any information. You can call:
- 0208 708 5000 to check credentials of Redbridge Council Officers
- 0300 200 3700 for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
We will never cold call you and we will have identification on us that can be verified by calling 020 8708 5000.
You should never provide bank details over the phone as a result of a cold-call. If you receive calls likes these, terminate them immediately and report them to Action Fraud.
Find out about the latest types of scams fraudsters perpetrate on the websites below: