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Don’t fall foul of scammers this Christmas

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Trading Standards Team are urging shoppers to stay safe when shopping online and looking for bargains this Christmas.

It is important that people buy safely and securely in order to try to prevent themselves falling victim to a scam.

Top tips:

  • Carry out some research into those they are buying from – is it a known company? If not, carry out your own research by looking for online reviews of the seller before deciding to buy and check where they are based. If they are outside the UK/Europe your rights will be limited. Don’t assume the company you are buying from is in the UK even if their contact page says they are. Some overseas based companies put UK or London as their location.
  • Check returns policies – some retailers are offering extended returns periods this year.
  • Use a payment that offers some extra protection to you including credit cards for purchases over £100. Ensure the online link is secure, look for the padlock symbol in the browser and that the address begins https://. The s stands for secure.
  • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements.
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have been a victim of fraud.
  • Use strong separate passwords and keep antivirus software updated and a firewall installed.
  • Watch out for phishing emails or texts – unfortunately if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is and could contain links to fake copycat websites. Do not open or reply to suspicious emails or open any attachments and be wary if asked to provide personal information. Forward these to the National Cyber Security Centre at report@phishing.gov.uk who will remove if it is a scam.

Scammers continue to look to take advantage of this time of year with more people shopping online than ever. Scams reported locally include:

  • Fake Royal Mail emails claiming an extra payment is needed for an unsuccessful delivery attempt. Please check out the website at www.royalmail.com for details of current scams relating to deliveries.
  • Bogus emails purporting to be from companies such as Amazon or Paypal trying to trick customers with messages about account issues relating to ordered goods. In these cases customers are led to malicious websites by clicking links contained in the email. If in doubt customers should check their account using their own login details.

Consumers should also be aware of the dangers of unsafe products being sold online. This is a particular issue for third party sellers on online marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay.

The British Toy and Hobby Association conducted a survey over the past two years, purchasing toys from sellers on online platforms and then having them safety tested. Over the past year, they found 86% of the toys purchased were illegal to sell in the UK as they failed to comply with UK toy safety requirements and 60% were unsafe for a child to play with.

No one wants to take risks with toy safety so please consider the following guidelines:-

  • Look for the ‘CE’ symbol: this means the toy has passed safety Tests.
  • Button battery safety: Check they are screwed in safely before giving to a child.
  • Check age restrictions: toys must be clearly marked with age restrictions. Always follow the age recommendations.
  • Check the price: if it’s much cheaper than you’d expect, it may be counterfeit.
  • Buy toys from a reputable seller: check reviews and ratings carefully.

It’s not only toys. Last year, Which? found that almost half of Christmas tree lights sold through online marketplaces were unsafe. The study also found that 66% of electrical products purchased on online marketplaces failed crucial safety tests.

There has also been a recent increase of counterfeit Dyson hair dryers being imported for sale in the UK. These are being sold at a much cheaper price than the recommended retail price. These are inferior, potentially dangerous, copies.

If someone needs consumer advice or wishes to report a scam they can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh Speaker these details will be shared with Trading Standards who may also make contact by phone to offer support and advice.

Trading Standards have produced an Avoiding Scams Advice Booklet which contains the latest guidance on different types of scams and practical advice on how consumers can protect themselves.

This is available on the Pembrokeshire County Council website at https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/consumer-advice/avoiding-scams-advice-booklet or alternatively a printed copy can be provided.

Please email TSConsumer@pembrokeshire.gov.uk for a copy.

 

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online

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NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting www.111.wales.nhs.uk which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.

 

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Trial date for son accused of killing mum

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THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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