Category Archives: Fraud

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CAB News 13 September 2019

Friday 13 September 2019

Citizens Advice Scams Action has been featured in an ITV documentary about fraud.

National

Consumer

Citizens Advice Scams Action ready to help

Fraud: The Public Threat, Tonight, ITV1, 12/09/2019, 7.30pm (about 20′ into clip). Helen Skelton

Our new service Citizens Advice Scams Action was featured on ITV’s Tonight programme yesterday.

The programme showed our website in detail and interviewed Martin Lewis, whose payout from Facebook, after his image was used in a series of online scams, has funded the service.

Martin said it would provide “one on one help” for people worried they had been victims of a scam. He also outlined what to look out for to avoid being scammed.

Martin said “urgency and secrecy” were the two biggest red flags a scammer might be at work.

Advice

Struggling to make ends meet? Go to your local Citizens Advice

The Asian Network (registration required), 12/09/2019, 10pm (about 1’20” into clip), Mobeen Azhar

People seeking advice on Universal Credit and other financial problems were urged to seek our help by the presenters of a programme on the BBC’s Asian Network entitled ‘Struggling to Make Ends Meet.’

Raji Osahn said of one man, who’d had numerous issues trying to claim Universal Credit: “He absolutely needs to go to a local Citizens Advice.”

Debt

Surge in councils using bailiffs to chase debts, including parking fines

The Independent, 11/09/2019, Vicky Shaw

Councils across England and Wales sent 2.6 million debts to bailiffs in 2018-19, a 7 per cent rise on the year before.

Despite this, the Money Advice Trust, who carried out the research, said it has found evidence that more councils are adopting best practice on affordability and vulnerability. It found 64 councils have now signed up to the Citizens Advice and Local Government Association’s council tax protocol, which is an increase from two years before.

Cut bailiff use for non-payment of council tax, say charities

The Guardian, 11/09/2019, Ben Quinn

Our council tax ‘good practice protocol’ is helping to improve the way local authorities collect arrears.

There were still 1.4 million referrals to bailiffs for the collection of council tax last year, according to new figures from the Money Advice Trust. But the report shows 51% of local authorities had reduced their bailiff use during the last two years.

The Local Government Association said the findings showed that there had been a positive impact from the work it had been doing with Citizens Advice on a council tax arrears good practice protocol.

Sixty-four councils have signed up to the Citizens Advice/LGA council tax protocol – up from 50 two years ago. A further 23 councils are considering signing up the protocol which, for example, obliges local authorities to give careful consideration before passing debts to enforcement agencies where potentially vulnerable household are involved.

Universal Credit

DWP extends the claims period by a month

i News, 09/09/2019, Serina Sandhu

Image result for dwp

The government’s announcement that parents on Universal Credit will now have an extra month to claim back childcare costs was covered by i News.

Gillian Guy told the paper “It’s good to see Government help parents on Universal Credit… This kind of flexibility needs to be applied to more of the new benefits system.

“Our evidence shows some people are having difficulty meeting the upfront costs of childcare, which can run to hundreds of pounds on already tight budgets.

“To really make sure parents can get the support they need on Universal Credit, the Government should look at paying childcare costs in advance or direct to providers.”

Energy

Eversmart Energy collapse hits 29,000 customers

The Times, 07/09/2019, p.49, Emily Gosden

Image result for eversmart

A small energy supplier that courted controversy by encouraging households to pay for a year’s gas and electricity usage up front ceased trading on Friday. Our response, in our capacity as the official consumer watchdog for energy, was widely featured in the national press.

Gillian Guy told The Times: “Eversmart is the 13th domestic energy company to collapse in the past two years. Our research shows this unlucky baker’s dozen of failed companies has left behind at least £172 million in unpaid costs. These will be picked up by other consumers through higher bills.”

She called for Ofgem to “act to reduce the cost of supplier failures and protect customers”.

The story was also covered by The Independent which noted: “Last year, Citizens Advice sounded the alarm about the company after it began offering a tariff where advanced payments of about £1,000 were paid by households.”

In other news

Domestic violence murders surge to five-year high.

In-game spending should be regulated by gambling laws, MPs say.

Ministers have been forced to publish documents predicting public disorder, rising prices and disruptions to food and medicines in Operation Yellowhammer papers.

TUC and Amnesty come out in support of student climate strikes.


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CAB News 09 August 2019

Image result for boardmasters festival

Friday 09 August 2019

The cancellation of Boardmasters festival appears across many outlets, with many referring to advice on our website.

National

Boardmasters refuses to say if it’ll offer refunds for last minute cancellation

Mirror.co.uk, 07/08/2019, James Andrews

Boardmasters festival in Cornwall has been cancelled just hours before it was due to open. The 53,000 people affected are still to hear whether they’ll be refunded.

Citizens Advice says if you bought your ticket from an official seller you can get a refund if the organiser cancels, moves or reschedules the event. The organiser will tell you how to get a refund.

Our advice also appeared in the Sun and the Evening Standard.

Energy

15 million households could see gas and electricity bills drop as Ofgem cuts price cap on some tariffs.

Channel 5, 08/08/2019

Director of External Affairs, Katie Martin, spoke to Channel 5 about Ofgem’s planned cuts to price caps. The segment states that if you’re part of the carbon-friendly ‘district heating’ energy scheme you may not notice much difference.

Katie said: “The problem with heat networks is that they’re unregulated, so the services can be really variable. For example some people experience really poor service standards and there’s very little they can do to complain about this.”

The costs of decarbonisation must not hit those who can least afford it

Utility Week, 02/08/2019, Gillian Guy

An op-ed in Gillian’s name has been published in Utility Week. She writes: “The UK’s decision to legislate for a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 has major implications for the people we help every day.”

“At the moment, most of the costs of the UK’s existing efforts to decarbonise are paid for through people’s bills, not taxes…By choosing to pay for these policies in this way, the costs disproportionately fall on the poorest in society.”

Citizens Advice recommends that “the Treasury establish an independent commission that would work through the implications of how low-carbon transition should be paid for, and present recommendations to government on how to proceed.”

Housing

Letting fees ban: Renters confused after change in law

BBC Online, 05/08/2019, Lora Jones

The BBC used our data and advice in a story about the renters’ experience with tenant fees following the ban on letting agent charges on June 1.

Enquiries to Citizens Advice about tenant fees rose by 54%, to 430, in the month after the law was introduced, the article reports.

Rachael Gore, our Housing Expert, told the BBC that tenants should question all upfront payments and ask for receipts from their landlord or letting agent.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit and the Managed Migration Pilot

BBC Radio 4, You and Yours, 02/08/2019, 12:51:30

Minesh Patel, Principal Policy Manager for Families, Welfare and Work, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme to talk about Universal Credit and the Managed Migration Pilot.

Minesh says that Citizens Advice is “working closely with DWP to help shape the early stages of the Managed Migration Pilot.” He continues, explaining that the charity has “shared evidence into the challenges people face with Universal Credit.”

Regional

Welfare

Pensioners urged to claim benefits to save free TV licence

Sheffield Star, 06/08/2019, Lucy Ashton

Image result for Pensioners urged to claim benefits to save free TV licence

Sheffield Citizens Advice says many over the age of 75 are reluctant to claim Pension Credit.

Chris Walker, Office Manager of Citizens Advice Spital Hill, told a council meeting that pensioners would boost their own finances, adding “There’s quite a large proportion of people who don’t claim it and that equates to £3 billion a year nationally.”

Settled Status

York’s EU citizens told to take action to secure rights post Brexit

York Press, 03/08/2019, Mike Laycock

Citizens Advice York says it is ready to help about 8,000 EU citizens in the city achieve ‘settled status’ after Brexit.

Chief Executive, Simon Topham, has warned that EU nationals could suffer a range of problems if they don’t get such status including the potential loss of services and benefits: “There are around 8,000 EU-born citizens living in York and most of them will need to take action to secure their rights.” Simon added: “If we leave without a deal, the deadline for this is December 31, 2020.”

In other news

Developers have been accused of holding back on building tens of thousands of homes a year despite a relaxation of planning laws designed to address the housing shortage.

The price of energy is set to fall for millions of British households this October after Ofgem has announced lower price caps.

Virgin Media has announced it will freeze prices and always give best deal to over 100,000 vulnerable customers.

The UK’s retailers have reported the worst July on record.

Facebook has been urged to shut groups seeking fake Amazon reviews.

EU citizens are being made destitute after being turned down for Universal Credit despite having the legal right to reside in the UK.