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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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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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