Monday, 13 May 2013

Citizens Advice Bureau

Elizabeth Crampton from St Albans Citizens advice bureau was our guest this evening on West Herts Drivetime, amongst the items covered were:

Disability Living Allowance - sometimes referred to as DLA - is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults who need someone to help look after them, or have walking difficulties.
The Council's Income Maximisation Team is happy to assist you with completing the DLA form. They can visit you at your home. Visit the contacts area of this page to access their details.
From 10 June 2013, a new benefit called personal independence payment (PIP) will be introduced to replace disability living allowance (DLA) for people of working age (16-64).Children under 16 will continue to claim DLA, and people over 65 can claim Attendance Allowance.
From October 2013, if you are aged between 16 and 65 and you report a change in your condition, you will have to apply for PIP instead.
If you receive DLA and will be aged between 16 and 64 on 8 April 2013, you will eventually have to make a claim for PIP instead, even if you have been given an indefinite or lifetime award for DLA.  At some point between January 2014 and March 2016 you will be contacted by DWP and invited to claim PIP. When you claim PIP your DLA will continue to be paid until the PIP claim has been decided, but if you do not make a claim for PIP within 28 days your DLA will be suspended.

What is money transfer fraud?
Money transfer services are often the preferred method used to obtain cash by a variety of fraudsters. Money transfer services, such as Western Union, allow individuals to send cash quickly, easily and reliably, allowing criminals to obtain cash from online auction site frauds, lottery scams, 419 frauds and criminal cashback.
When money transfer services are being used in connection with criminal activity the recovery of any cash sent is extremely difficult. Individuals do have to produce identification when collecting cash, however, the documents produced by these fraudsters are often very sophisticated.
How can we protect ourselves from money transfer fraud?
Never use money transfer services to send cash to people that you do not know or whose identity you cannot verify.
Never pay for an item bought on an online auction site such as ebay, through instant wire transfer service. The seller may suggest this option to you and may be entirely genuine, however there is little security in this, no matter what the seller says. Even if you are being offered a good deal, or a ‘second chance’ on an item that you really wanted, you are effectively sending your cash to a stranger ‘on trust’ alone.
Never send cash via money transfer service if you have been in receipt of any lottery fraud emails in which you are encouraged by the sender to transfer money in the form of advance fees in order to release lottery winnings. Genuine lotteries will never ask you to pay taxes or release fees. In fact genuine lotteries, such as the UK Big Lottery, have no idea who bought the winning ticket, so will never be able to contact you telling you about your ‘unclaimed’ prize money. You have to contact them with your details. If you have received any emails requesting that you send money, never reply, and never send these people money - by any method.

Similarly, never send cash via money transfer service if you have been in receipt any ‘419’ emails, that offer you a cut of a large sum of money - if you help to release it from a bank account. If you do respond to this mail, during the discussions with the sender you will be encouraged to send them cash in the form of advance fees to gain the release of the money, which is usually a ridiculous figure that is in the millions. Again, never reply, and never send these people money - by any method.

Never send cash via money transfer service if you have been in receipt of a cheque payment from an individual - in a sum greater than what you have asked. This is known as criminal cashback  for the item you are selling or property you are renting. After the cheque has been paid into your account, the fraudster you will encourage you to send the difference to them, or someone else by money transfer or bank transfer. Never send these people cash by any method. If the cheque you have received is stolen or forged, it can often take more than 3 days before that cheque is identified as being fraudulent, and by that time  you would have already sent the funds by money transfer with no means of getting it back, and also find that your bank account will have the original debt reversed, leaving you with the loss of the funds withdrawn and sent by money transfer.

What help is available to victims of money transfer fraud?
Victims of this type of fraud often feel personally humiliated by the situation – especially if they find themselves embroiled in a scam and have parted with a great deal of money. In most cases these victims do not inform the police, or tell anyone at all. It is extremely important however, that you do tell people, and inform the police if you find yourself embroiled in a scam as described above. As already discussed, career criminals look for victims who are unknowing about transfer services, or maybe looking for that ‘too good to be true’ opportunity of a lifetime. Always stay vigilant, and never even reply to any offers made to you that you are not entirely sure of, and only ever use money transfer services when sending funds to your family and individuals that you know you can trust.

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