Mobile Phone Chargers Spark Safety Warning After 42% Failure Rate!

42% of generic chargers for devices including mobile phones, renewable batteries, e-cigarettes and other electrical products failed safety tests! Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service purchased a range of generic (i.e. non-branded) chargers from Internet sellers and had them safety tested as part of their cyber-crime and cyber-safety enforcement work.

Of the 12 products purchased, five failed electrical safety tests. Failures included chargers supplied with suspected counterfeit fuses and insecure internal wiring that could cause shorting, live ‘arcing’ and overheating.

Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “Over 1.8 million mobile phone chargers are bought online annually and in the last five years the UK has seen a six-fold increase in the number of fake and potentially unsafe electric goods being seized by enforcement authorities. Genuine chargers manufactured for specific electrical devices are designed to allow the correct charge for the item and will very often have inbuilt protection systems to prevent overcharging and overheating of the device. Generic or counterfeit chargers do not always have these protections. Many imported ‘generic’ chargers do not satisfy UK safety regulations and these sub-standard, faulty or counterfeit electrical chargers can be deadly, causing electric shocks, fires and damage to property and equipment.  In December, national retailer Poundworld were fined £ £166,000 after they sold more than 72,000 faulty charger kits with loose wires could pose a risk of fire or electric shock. The case was brought by Carmarthenshire Trading Standards.”

Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee added: “The number house fires caused by electrical faults has increased by 29% over the past few years and some of this increase has been due to the use of faulty electrical chargers. I would strongly urge residents not to buy chargers from unknown suppliers online especially, if they are really cheap, as we all know, if it looks too good to be true, then it usually is. So please don’t take the risk, the consequences are just too high!”

In a bid to reduce the number of fires in the home caused by faulty electrical chargers, Warwickshire Trading Standards in partnership with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service are asking residents to follow the advice below:

  • Only use the charger that has been specifically made for your electrical product model. Use official/original chargers and electrical cables
  • Only buy from reputable traders selling genuine products and check they have a British or European safety mark when buying it
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the device
  • If at all possible, don’t leave items on charge unattended for long periods and especially overnight.
  • Don’t charge a battery that looks like it could have been damaged or dropped
  • Don’t cover items when you are charging them as they emit heat
  • Test your smoke alarm regularly

Warwickshire Trading Standards is now working with sellers of faulty electrical chargers to have them removed from sale and advise their customers. Some of the sellers may face further enforcement action in the courts.

Keep up to date on the latest electrical product recalls here:

If you believe that you have purchased an electrical product that has developed an electrical fault, caused a fire or could be potentially faulty, stop using the product and report it to Warwickshire Trading Standards on 03454

TV News anchor says ‘Alexa, buy me a dollhouse’ with predictable results…

Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa – which powers the likes of the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot – has a problem.

Graham Cluley blog advises you to “change your Alexa settings if you don’t want to make unexpected purchases.”

Source: TV News anchor says ‘Alexa, buy me a dollhouse’ with predictable results…

Protect yourself against pension scams: The Pensions Regulator

Thousands of people have lost their life savings after falling for a pension scam. Don’t be next.

Read our ten steps to protect your pension.

You can also watch our video and download a booklet to help give yourself the best possible protection against the pension scammers.

Understand the risks of early pension release via pension loans or transfer schemes. Who to contact if you’ve received offers to cash in your pension.

Source: Pension scams | pension loans & transfers | The Pensions Regulator

Dangerous diet pills not the answer to New Year’s resolutions

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are warning people to be aware of the dangers of buying diet pills online.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are warning anyone looking to lose weight in the New Year to be aware of the dangers of buying diet pills online.

During 2015 MHRA enforcement officers seized more than 240,000 doses of pills claiming to be for weight loss/slimming. A number of the products seized were marketed as ‘all herbal’ or natural when, in fact, they were found to contain the synthetic medicine sibutramine. Sibutramine was withdrawn across Europe and the US in 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with its use. Since 2005, MHRA officials have found hundreds of examples of medicines claiming to contain herbal ingredients but after analysis were found to be adulterated with pharmaceutical ingredients.

When considering whether to buy a product that describes itself as herbal or natural, consumers are advised to look for products that display the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo and a THR/PL number. These products have been assessed by the MHRA and consumers can be confident that the quality is assured and that the information for consumers about the product and how to use it safely is correct.

MHRA senior policy advisor, Lynda Scammell said: The Internet has access to a vast number of websites offering a wide range of products marketed as “slimming” or “diet” pills. Many make attractive claims and offer “quick-fix” solutions but be aware that “natural” does not mean “safe.

There is no miracle cure. The reality is that many of these pills are not authorised medicines and therefore their contents are unknown. Chances are they simply will not work and may contain dangerous unknown ingredients. The consequences can be devastating. Our advice is not to purchase slimming pills online without having consulted a doctor or pharmacist first. If you have concerns about your weight, consult your GP or another healthcare professional. Be safe and put your health first. It’s just not worth the risk.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe. All our work is underpinned by robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits justify any risks. MHRA is a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which also includes the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). MHRA is an executive agency of the Department of Health.

Owl and the CopyCat – YouTube

Ordering new passports, booking driving tests and renewing car tax discs are just some of the ways that people are unwittingly being left out-of-pocket by shrewd fraudsters who operate ‘copycat’ websites.

By imitating official government services online, copycat websites are designed to trick you into parting with your cash unnecessarily by charging users for services that are provided cheaper or free-of-charge through official government channels.

Make the clicks which count this Get Safe Online Day


Becoming the victim of an online crime can be just one click away, but so is the simple advice which can help protect you. That’s the message from Warwickshire Police during Get Safe Online Day, which is being marked across the country today (Tuesday October 18), and as part of the force’s ongoing #Be Cyber Smart campaign people are being urged to make the clicks which count.

It comes as figures from Get Safe Online and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reveal that £10,960,1171 was lost in the county as a result of fraud, including cybercrime, in 2015/16. Nationally, this figure rose to £10.9 billion over the same period which equates to approximately £210 per person over the age of 16 living in the UK2, but represents only reported fraud and cybercrime to Action Fraud.  However, a specially commissioned survey to mark Get Safe Online Day3, reveals that the UK figure is likely to be much greater, with respondents who had been a victim of online crime alone losing an average of £523 each – this being more than the average weekly earnings figure for the UK4 which currently stands at £505. In addition, 39 per cent of people who said they’d been victims of online crime said they hadn’t reported the incident – meaning the overall amount of money lost by the UK could be even more.

Detective Chief Inspector Tim Bower, who is the business lead for cybercrime for Warwickshire Police, said: “Cybercrime is undoubtedly on the rise, but the good news is that knowledge really is power when it comes to both individuals and businesses protecting themselves. Warwickshire Police is committed to tackling cybercrime, in liaison with our partner agencies. We also place a great emphasis on raising awareness of the ways in which people can protect themselves, by holding and attending community events, for example, as well as through our #Be Cyber Smart campaign. “Research has shown that many losses are preventable by following some simple advice and this year, to mark Get Safe Online Day, we are urging everyone to take just a few minutes out of their day to make the clicks that count. There are some excellent online resources which are well worth clicking on, including Get Safe Online and our own campaign. Even if it’s just for five minutes before work, in a lunch hour, during a bus journey home or during the adverts of a favourite programme we are urging everyone to have a quick look at some top tips.”

Making the wrong click can result in problems for internet users. For example, fraudulent emails, otherwise known as phishing emails, which appear to come from someone you know can prompt you to click on a link to a website which installs a virus on your computer. This can result in your private information being stolen by criminals or your computer being infected by ransomware – a type of malware which enables criminals to remotely lock a computer, informing the owner that it will not be unlocked until a sum of money is paid.

The Police and Crime Commissioners for Warwickshire, West Mercia and the West Midlands have joined together with Warwickshire County Council and key strategic partners today to launch a cybercrime survey to assess the impact that online crime is having around the region. The West Midlands and West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioners have now joined the survey that originated in Warwickshire last year.

The cybercrime survey – which can be found here – is being run jointly by the three Police and Crime Commissioners and the County council.

More information and advice from Get Safe Online can be found here

To find out more about the #Be Cyber Smart campaign go to or

Basic security measures for all computer users include:

S Shred documents containing personal details before throwing them away.

M Make sure passwords are nonsensical. Use letters, numbers and symbols.

A Always use legitimate and up-to-date antivirus software.

R Remain vigilant. Think before you input or email your personal details.

T Think Phishing. Could that email be from a fraudster trying to get hold of your personal details?


Victims of fraud or anyone suspecting they may have fallen victim, should contact Action Fraud on or call 0300 123 2040.

For more information about staying safe online and the scams to look out for go to

  1. Calculated as the amount of money lost in 2015/16 to fraud and cybercrime. This figure represents incidents reported to Action Fraud by those over 16 and with a valid UK postcod.
  2. Calculated according to most recent adult population (over 16 years) estimates from ONS:
  3. Survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Get Safe Online with 2,000 UK AdultsCalculated according to latest ONS figures for earnings and working hours which put the UK average weekly earnings at £505:

Forty Year Old Electric Blanket Was Still in Use! 1 in 3 Electric Blankets Fail Tests!


A forty year old electric blanket that was still in use was one of 85 electric blankets that failed safety tests carried out by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards.

Trading Standards Officers tested 259 electric blankets belonging to older people living across Warwickshire and found that 85 or 33% failed tests.

Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “We know that faulty electric blankets are a contributory factor in many house fires each year. I’m delighted that this annual safety campaign continues to be popular with Warwickshire residents.”

Safety tests revealed that many of the electric blankets failed because of faults to switches or damage to internal wiring. Some had been the subject of a product recall by the manufacture that the owner was not aware of and some were simply too old.

Electric blankets that are more than 10 years old carry an increased fire risk because as they age, the unseen wiring within them will begin to deteriorate. Some that are very old, such as the forty year old blanket, may also lack overheat protection, built in to modern blankets to stop them from overheating if a fault occurs.

Trading Standards Officers were also able to provide 150 older people visiting the testing stations with personal safety packs containing advice on scams and doorstep rogue traders. Representatives of Age UK and Act on Energy also attended to offer older people information and advice on benefits and energy efficiency.

Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “Warwickshire Trading Standards remains committed to helping to ensure that unsafe products are not being used in the home, and elderly and vulnerable people are protected.”

Residents from across Warwickshire brought their electric blankets in to one of five testing stations located across the County. Trading Standards also ran a group collection service for those unable to attend the testing stations in person.

There were a range of reasons for blanket failures:

• Some blankets were very old. Consumers should consider replacing their electric blanket if it is more than ten years old. Old electric blankets, even if they are still working carry an increased fire hazard risk because as blankets age, the unseen wiring within them will deteriorate. Some very old electric blankets will not have over heat protection, designed to stop them overheating and catching fire if a fault occurs.

• A few relatively new electric blankets had been the subject of product recalls by the manufacturer. In these cases the blanket was failed and the consumer was advised to return the electric blanket to the retailer to be rectified. To check an electric blanket or other electrical item against product recall lists, please visit:

• Some electric blankets failed because of faults to switches or damage to internal wiring. Electric blankets do degrade over time due to constant use and wear and tear, but consumers can prolong the life of their electric blanket by following the instructions for use and storage.

The electric blanket testing campaign has now finished but owners can check the safety of their own electric blankets by looking for the following warning signs:
• the fabric is worn or frayed
• there are scorch marks anywhere
• the tie tapes are damaged or missing
• the flex is worn or damaged
• any connections are loose
Remember older blankets in regular use are much more likely to have one or more of the above faults. If your electric blanket is more than 10 years old, industry guidelines suggest you should replace it. An old BEAB safety mark (a round symbol) is an indication that the blanket is more than ten years old.
For more information visit:

Want the iPhone 7? Make sure you sell your old phone safely!

Tempted to upgrade your old iPhone to a brand new iPhone 7? Learn what safety steps you should take before selling your old device. Via award winning cyber security expert Graham Cluley.

Source: Want the iPhone 7? Make sure you sell your old phone safely!