Category: Guidance

Beware Dynamic Pricing

If you go shopping at your local shops, then you expect the prices of goods will stay basically the same. Inflation means there will be upward movement and sometimes special offers, but usually there are consistent prices.

Buying petrol is a difficult game as the price is set each day and petrol stations near each other will often change their prices to compete but there is usually at least a tiny difference in price for each petrol station you pass. You can fill your tank expecting the price to go up but it might go down instead.

Airlines have operated demand pricing for some time – the price fluctuates depending on the level of demand so passengers on the same flight may well have  paid a wide range of prices for the same seats from the early bird prices to higher last minute prices.

But what about online giants such as Amazon?

Amazon operate ‘dynamic pricing’ which means they will change prices frequently depending on demand and changing circumstances – this can be multiple times in a day but is more usually once or twice a week for many goods.

The weather forecast changes and the prices of some items changes accordingly. Monday and Tuesday are the least popular days for online shopping so there are more bargains to be had whereas the weekend is more popular so the prices go up.

Anything that potentially changes the level of demand can trigger price changes.

So, how do you deal with this?

It can be difficult to know whether prices for what you want are likely to go up or down but it can be advisable to watch the price of items for a while and see if you can get a good deal.

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Legal Steps to Recover Your Stolen Money

This is a series of steps for attempting to recover money stolen by fraudsters. It has been created by Barrister  Gideon Roseman following his skirmish with fraudsters. You can read about that at fightback.ninja/amateur-detective-recovers-stolen-money/

  1. Immediately phone your bank and ask to speak with the fraud team

Explain what has happened and demand they immediately contact the fraudster’s bank, i.e.  the bank you transferred your money to.

  1. Immediately contact a solicitor or barrister who can accept instructions directly from members of the public (or alternatively you can attempt to do this yourself). Ask them to immediately make an application to freeze the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account that the fraudster has with their bank. The application should include a request for an order that the fraudster’s bank provides the following information:
  • all contact details (mobile phone, home phone, email address, residential address etc.) for all signatories to the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account held in the fraudster’s name or any other signatory to this bank account that is held at the bank
  • all bank statements for the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account to which the fraudster or any other signatory has with the bank in question for a period of 6 months; and
  • the current balance of all bank accounts with the bank that is in the fraudster’s or any other signatory’s name.
  1. Once you get hold of the court order, this will need to be immediately emailed to the fraudster’s banks’ ‘court orders’ team who can process it. You can ask your bank for this email address.
  2. As soon as you receive the information from the fraudster’s bank, consider the following points:

(i) has your money been transferred or paid to any recognisable company you can contact, such as a known retailer

(ii) if you can identify a company that has received your money, you can then contact this company, explain what has happened and request they either cancel the transaction made by the fraudster or request them to hold onto the money they have received and

(iii) has the money been transferred to other bank accounts.

  1. If your money has been transferred out of the fraudster’s bank account and into another bank account, you have the option of returning to court and making an application for the information set out above and repeating the process set out above.
  2. When you have received the fraudster’s bank account statements, try to work out the dates and times of the transfers out of their accounts. Your bank will be under a duty to contact the fraudster’s bankers, who will then freeze the fraudster’s account.

If your bank has failed to act within a reasonable period of time after you have notified them of the fraud, which has enabled the fraudster to transfer your money without a trace, it is likely that your bank will have breached their duty and will have to compensate you.

Good luck.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Airline Delays and Compensation

There are EU laws defining how much air passengers should be compensated for various flight delays.

However, many of the airlines are not playing fair with their customers and large numbers of people find they have to complain to the Civil Aviation Authority for their recompense. This is after they have been through the airlines dispute resolution process.

The Denied Boarding regulation covers flights originating in the EU and all flights by EU registered airlines.  However it does not cover non EU registered airlines flying outside the EU.

  • Short haul passengers are entitled to 250 Euros if the flight is delayed by more than 3 hours
  • Long haul passengers can be entitled to 300 Euros if the flight landed between 3 and 4 hours late
  • Long haul passengers are entitled to 600 Euros if the flight landed more than 4 hours behind schedule
  • Delayed passengers may be entitled to meals, refreshments, email service, phone calls and even overnight accommodation depending on the delays.

The airlines argue that most causes of delays are outside of their control e.g. weather problems, bird strikes, airport issues etc. and therefore they shouldn’t have to pay, but the regulators take a more open approach and expect the airlines to pay compensation in many of these cases.

For the EU law to apply, you’ll need to have departed from the UK, European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

The airlines should help you at the airport. But if not, then you’ll need to apply to the airline afterwards. Make sure to keep any relevant receipts and don’t overspend – they won’t compensate you for luxury hotels and extravagant meals and alcohol etc.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/holiday-cancellations-and-compensation/if-your-flights-delayed-or-cancelled/  has detailed information on exactly how much you can claim.

The Which consumer magazine site has a letter creator to help you claim compensation. At http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-had-a-flight-delay-can-i-get-compensation

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Starting a Small Claims Court Case

Before starting a small claims case in the courts, you should have made a serious attempt to resolve the problem or your case could be rejected for that reason.

But if that fails, then you need to know who the defendant is – you cannot start a court case without clearly identifying the defendant.  It also makes a great deal of sense to take legal advice before starting a case so you will have a legal opinion on whether you have a winnable case.

The next step is to gather all relevant evidence and if you believe you have a good case then go to the government website https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/overview

The fees involved are for example £100 – £170 for cases where the money in dispute is between £1,000 and £3,000, but the full list of fees is available from that page.

Start your case.

You can start a case on paper rather than online but the fees are higher and the process will take longer.

To use the online service you need to have a Government Gateway login and password. If you don’t have this then get it in advance as it will take days to receive the details in the post. Go to http://www.gateway.gov.uk/ to register.

Make sure you have a strong case before going down this route and make sure you have exhausted other simpler options first.

The steps involved are further outlined in the article http://fightbackonline.org/index.php/guidance/12-explanations/70-using-the-small-claims-court-to-sue-a-scammer

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Virgin Media Customers at Risk of Hacking

Virgin Media has told 800,000 customers to change their router passwords to protect against being hacked.

This only applies to Virgin media customers with the Super 2 router. The router is box that provides your Internet connection and WI-FI.

Which consumer magazine has been investigating Wi-Fi in the home and discovered this problem.

Virgin Media said the risk was small but advised customers using default network and router passwords to update them immediately. This means that if your router has never had its password changed, then you should consider changing it.  To do this you need to use your browser and connect to the http address for the router.

A spokesman said: “The security of our network and of our customers is of paramount importance to us. We continually upgrade our systems and equipment to ensure that we meet all current industry standards. We regularly support our customers through advice and updates and offer them the chance to upgrade to a Hub 3.0 which contains additional security provisions.”

Supposedly, the issue exists with other routers of the same age and is not exclusive to the Virgin Media model.

Which carried out the study in conjunction with ethical security researchers SureCloud and they tested 15 devices -of which eight had security flaws.

In one case a home CCTV system was hacked using an administrator account that was not password protected. Hackers were able to watch live pictures and in some cases were able to move cameras inside the house.

Which? called for the industry to improve basic security provisions, including requiring customers to create a unique password before use, two-factor authentication, and issuing regular software security updates.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

Ransomware: What Is It?

Imagine you’ve been working hard to create a new presentation for work or an official document or a personal photograph album. When you finally finish the work, a message appears on screen that says

“All of the files on this computer have been encrypted. You have 24 hours to submit payment to receive the encryption key, otherwise your files will be permanently destroyed.”

You’ve been hit with Ransomware.

This could be lies – it could just be an empty threat, but it could also be very real and if you don’t pay then your files may be lost permanently.

What do you do?

Step 1: disconnect from the Internet immediately.

Step 2 : Make a choice on whether to pay

If you pay, then maybe you get your files back and maybe not.

If you choose not to pay then switch the computer off and get it to an expert ASAP.

Across the globe in 2014, there were 8.8 million ransomware attacks reported and this crime is rising rapidly.

For further information refer to article

www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/guidance/12-explanations/19-ransomware-what-is-it-and-how-do-i-protect-against-it

General Data Protection Regulation

The 1998 Data Protection Act was passed by Parliament to control the way information is handled and to give legal rights to people who have information stored about them.

Other European Union countries have passed similar laws and there is the complication that often data is held in more than one country.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  comes into force in May 2018. It is an EU regulation and takes effect in the UK regardless of the BREXIT situation.

With so many businesses and services operating across borders, international consistency around data protection laws and rights is crucial both to businesses and organisations, and to individuals.

Who does the GDPR apply to?

The GDPR applies to processing carried out by organisations operating within the EU. It also applies to organisations outside the EU that offer goods or services to individuals in the EU.

It  does not apply to certain activities including processing covered by the Law Enforcement Directive, processing for national security purposes and processing carried out by individuals purely for personal/household activities.

It applies to ‘controllers’ and ‘processors’. The definitions are broadly the same as under the Data Protection Act (DPA) – i.e. the controller says how and why personal data is processed and the processor acts on the controller’s behalf. If you are currently subject to the DPA, it is likely that you will also be subject to the GDPR.

If you are a processor, the GDPR places specific legal obligations on you; for example, you are required to maintain records of personal data and processing activities. You will have significantly more legal liability if you are responsible for a breach.

However, if you are a ‘controller’, there are still obligations where a ‘processor’ is involved – it places further obligations on you to ensure your contracts with processors comply with the GDPR.

Does the GDPR apply to Personal Data?

Like the DPA, the GDPR applies to ‘personal data’. However, the GDPR’s definition is more detailed and makes it clear that information such as an online identifier – e.g. an IP address – can be personal data. The more expansive definition provides for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.

For most organisations, keeping HR records, customer lists, or contact details etc., the change to the definition should make little practical difference. You can assume that if you hold information that falls within the scope of the DPA, it will also fall within the scope of the GDPR.

The GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data are accessible according to specific criteria.

 

Basically, if you are subject to the DPA then you need to plan to ensure compliance with the GDPR .

More information available at http://www.eugdpr.org/

Worldwide Business Review Awards

World Wide Business Review magazine send out huge numbers of emails to businesses  asking if they would accept a nomination in the 2017 UK Enterprise Awards hosted by Worldwide Business Review.

Who nominates the businesses? – that isn’t disclosed but it’s an easy assumption that it’s whoever is on the email lists they buy.

If you send a reply email accepting their nomination then you get a letter asking for supporting information.

The supporting information is fairly standard :-

  • An overview of the company
  • Flagship products or services
  • Biggest achievements to date
  • Future of the company
  • An award winning area of the business
  • Main competitors and what sets your business apart from theirs
  • Details about the individual

These are all sensible areas of research into a potentially award winning business, but the last question is the killer.

“Do you have a suggested award title?”

This is not about a reason for the award – it’s about trying to get the ‘customer’  to commit to the idea of wining by selecting their own winners title.  In essence – everyone can have an award.

Is there any harm in that? No, but should people be given awards where they pick their own title for the award and if so does it have any merit?

Some people call these types of awards “Vanity Awards” or “Trophies for Sale” and they exist in the book world, in business, in wealth, in International commerce etc.  This is not illegal but it is certainly questionable and the value of such awards is dubious at best.

Related Post: http://fightback.ninja/wealth-and-finance-awards-are-they-real/

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Web of Trust

https://www.mywot.com/

“Powered by 140 Million Users & Machine Learning, our free browser extensions, mobile app and API let you check if a website is safe before your reach it, giving you a clean and safe browsing environment” claims the Web of Trust (WOT) website checker.

WOT claims to secure you against scams, malware, rogue web stores and dangerous links on the Internet.

The idea behind the Web of Trust is to try to make the Internet a safe place by automatically checking any website before your browser opens it. It does this by having a regularly updated list of dangerous websites. That list comes from its users marking websites as dangerous, so it’s crowdsourced information.  WOT say they also use blacklists compiled by other people, of dangerous websites.

This is a great idea – if you find a dodgy website then you tell WOT and they can then warn other people about it.

But, this approach does have it’s limitations.  For example, auction sites have been marked dangerous by WOT because of one or a few bad sellers. It’s also possible that some sites are marked dangerous by members because they don’t like them rather than there being anything dodgy about them.

Reputation icons are also shown next to links on search engine results, social media platforms, webmail, and other popular sites to help you search safely.

When the WOT add-on is installed, you will see a small doughnut shaped icon next to your browser’s address bar. The icon shows you the site’s rating and reputation: green indicates a safe website, yellow tells you to be cautious, and red indicates potential danger.

The Web of Trust website also has an online community with more than 100,000 posts so it is an important community which discusses website ratings, security and online safety.

Alternatives

There are lots of alternative services that provide a similar warning before you access websites.  Google Safe browsing is one of the most popular and is free.

There are also similar services provided by the makers of anti-virus and anti-malware software. Site Advisor is one of the most popular. These services don’t have the advantage of crowd sourcing but they are technically very proficient.

If you worried about the safety of browsing then do look at WOT and its competitors and pick the one that works best for you.

If you have had bad experiences with websites or these protection services – do let me know, by email.