COLD CALLING – A Local case history

At the beginning of February, an elderly resident – living on her own – was approached by two male callers, offering to clean her front drive and rear patio, for the not inconsiderable sum of £750!! They claimed to have carried out similar job for a nearby resident who was happy with their work.  Despite her initial refusal, they pestered her to the extent that she reluctantly agreed to have the work done.  When it came to paying, she realised that she did not have sufficient cash to hand, and contacted a local friend and neighbour to see if they could help.

The situation became clear during conversation with the lady, so the neighbour approached the two men and drew their attention to the regulations relating to ‘No Cold Calling’, especially in the context of single, vulnerable residents.  Eventually they agreed a significantly reduced sum and left.

This is only one account of residents being over-charged for generally unsolicited work, of dubious quality with nothing in writing to support the claimed 5-year guarantee and no details for the cleaners!  During the next few days, a number of residents were affected and the police were informed.

Whilst ‘Cold Calling’ is NOT an offence in itself, if you ask the caller to leave and they do not promptly accede, then they are committing a crime and you can feel free to report them on 101 or 999 if they should become aggressive.

CYBER SECURITY – The Internet of Things (IoT)

The number of Internet-connected devices which now embellish our lives and homes continues to grow.  In addition to PC’s, laptops, tablets (eg. iPad, etc.), mobile smart phones, etc. we now have reading devices (eg. Kindle), WiFi routers and extenders, Smart TV’s, Home Assistants (eg. Alexa, Siri, etc.), Smart Heating Controls (eg. Nest), Smart Doorbells (eg. Nest), etc., etc.  Whilst each of these devices has a unique IP address they are usually – but not always – provided with a default ‘User Name’ such as ‘admin’, and a default password which may be ‘blank’, 1234, 0000, or some other simple default.  Such devices are potentially subject to ‘hacking’ for a number of reasons, so it is important to update these default settings, where possible, to something which is known only to you. 

Passwords should be ‘strong’, utilising at least eight (ideally more) mixed characters – UPPER and lower case letters, numbers and symbols such as @ & %.  Letters can be substituted by lookalike symbols, or a unique ‘pass phrase’ employed.  Three random words from a random page in one of your favourite books do the trick – provided that YOU remember what they are!  Never use things like names, DofB, dates, or words that can be easily predicted by the ‘hackers’.

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For further information about this topic or about Neighbourhood Watch in general, contact:

David Gresswell – Scheme Co-ordinator, Flackwell Heath

(Tel: 01628 525019   e-mail: flackwell-nhwatch@talktalk.net)

Police General & Non-emergency number: 101

Community Safety Team (Anti-social behaviour): 01494 421 087

Crimestoppers (Anonymous): 0800 555 111

NEW: Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline: 03454 040 506 (Prev: Trading Standards)

Cyberaware – https://www.cyberaware.gov.uk/

        Get Safe Online https://www.getsafeonline.org/  NEW

          ACTION FRAUD: 0300 123 2040 – https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/contact-us

The Information Commissioner’s Office: 0303 123 1113

NHS: 111