Questions of cash: Beware fake emails that demand money
By Paul Gosling
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Q. Ever since typing my name into Google out of idle curiosity, I have been receiving emails from it demanding money or it will stop my ads. I do not have any ads, but its emails are non-reply and attempts to contact it are ignored. When I am abroad, accessing these emails costs me money. Help! SP, Guildford
A. Don’t blame Google – it is even more annoyed than you are. It has nothing to do with having typed your name into its search engine – that is just a coincidence. This is yet another phishing scam designed to extract money or personal information from innocent internet users. You should ignore the emails and perhaps review your email-protection software, which appears not to be blocking spam mail. Google says the sender of these emails appears to be based in China and it is attempting to take legal action to put an end to its activities.
Q. Our son went travelling in South America, where in December his bag containing cameras, passport and bank cards was snatched at a bus station. He phoned us and we contacted banks, card companies and the mobile-phone provider. He has accounts with HSBC, NatWest and Barclays. Both HSBC and NatWest sent new cards to him via our home address. But Barclaycard insisted he phone them from South America. He tried repeatedly to do this, but even though he spent £35 on calls he was unable to get through to people who could sort his problem out. Barclaycard refused to send his card to our address as apparently it has our postal code recorded wrongly on its records – which was one of the reasons our son was unable to solve the problem when he phoned it – and it has no trace of him having lived here. PS, Buckinghamshire
A. Barclaycard says that having reviewed the tapes of calls between your son and Barclaycard, its staff could have handled his calls “in a more professional and helpful manner”. Initially it credited your son’s account with £35 as a goodwill gesture. We felt this was insufficient and asked Barclaycard to review this as it merely repaid the cost of your son’s calls from South America. It has now agreed to credit his account with a further £50 in recognition of its poor handling of his calls.
Q. Earlier this year, high winds damaged the pebbledashing on my property, some of which fell through my neighbour’s plastic carport roof. Both properties are covered by the same Norwich Union insurance policy. Norwich Union has been very slow in responding to the claim, even though we have provided the requested two written quotes from different tradesmen. The claims assessor concluded that while the damage was the result of the storm and high winds, only the carport damage would be covered by the insurance policy. Norwich Union will pay for the damage that will cost about £50 to repair, while rejecting the claim for damage of about £1,000. We pay more than £400 a year on insurance to Norwich Union. AM, Nottingham
A. A Norwich Union spokesman says its assessor concluded: “Despite the fact there had been storm conditions in the area, the pebbledashing had fallen off the walls because of general wear-and-tear problems and not because of any adverse weather conditions. We wouldn’t expect high winds to affect pebbledashing that is in good condition and it seems the damage has only highlighted an ongoing maintenance issue.” Your policy does not cover damage caused by wear and tear. You are unhappy with this response and can take the matter further by requesting the Financial Ombudsman Service to review the matter, but Norwich Union seems to be on safe legal ground.