How To Spend

Wise Money Management and Spending Tips

Month: October 2020

Fake Covid-19 Marshals Targeting Elderly and Vulnerable

Local Authority Imposters Gain Access To Homes

Bogus Covid-19 marshals are pretending to carry out spot checks of homes, then steal cash and valuables during their fake inspections.

The government has introduced Covid-19 secure marshals as a way to boost local law enforcement teams. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that these marshals won’t be given any formal powers as part of new legislation. However, they will be charged with encouraging members of the public to follow social distancing regulations. Some of their duties will be to manage queues, remind people to wear face coverings and assist with cleaning. Whilst the announcement of these Covid-19 marshals has been widely criticised, unfortunately a further barrier is that some criminals have been exploiting the role in order to break into homes.

Covid-19 Scams

Since the pandemic began, there have been numerous reports of scams on vulnerable households. Initially, bogus healthcare workers pretended to offer doorstep Covid-19 tests and used this as a way to gain access to homes and steal cash and other valuables. As the pandemic has progressed, so too have the nature of these scams to match the changes reported in the news.

Imposter Covid-19 Marshals

Since the government announced that Covid-19 marshals could be deployed by local councils, savvy criminals have made use of this guise as another way to intrude. By going door to door, these fake marshals pretend that they are checking for any sign of rule breaks to request entry to the home. Where homeowners don’t initially open the door, the marshals use intimidation including the threat of fines for those who fail to comply with their demands. Once inside, the criminals will steal whatever they can whilst conducting a fake inspection of the home before fleeing the scene.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute

Unfortunately, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute has been inundated with reports of imposter Covid-19 marshals as well as bogus healthcare professionals trying to con elderly or vulnerable residents within their homes. They remind us that Covid-19 marshals will never turn up unannounced at your property, in fact, their role isn’t to visit homes but to support social distancing in public places. Equally, marshals don’t have any right to enforce law or dish out fines. Unfortunately, as we approach flu season and there is an additional demand for flu jabs this year, residents must be on their guard against phoney healthcare professionals pretending to offer at-home injections.

Protection Against Covid-19 Scammers

If you’re concerned about the wellbeing of a elderly or vulnerable individual who might be susceptible to this type of targeted crime, the first step is to have a conversation with them so they’re fully equipped with the knowledge of what scammers may attempt. In terms of securing your property, CCTV installers London products can provide 24/7 surveillance so you can keep an eye on anyone who appears to be scoping out the home. Footage of any doorstep conversations will also be invaluable evidence to give to the police in the event that anyone tries to gain access to the home. However, often just the visible presence of CCTV cameras is enough to send most criminals on their way. Finally, having a chain and a door viewer are both important features of your door security setup as they allow the occupant to converse with anyone without giving them the opportunity to physically barge their way in.

Whilst public authorities are being encouraged to update safeguarding messages to ensure that future scamming attempts are unsuccessful, it’s important to be vigilant as the pandemic changes shape over the winter period.

How Might Negative Interest Rates Affect Your Mortgage?

Bank of England Could Charge Lenders To Hoard Their Money

Commercial banks could be motivated to lend more cash out to fuel the economy and the property market. How does negative interest work?

Fuelling growth in the economy is one of the primary concerns of the government during the pandemic, due to the losses experienced from lockdown and other imposed restrictions. As a result, the Bank of England is now considering following in the footsteps of several other countries such as Japan and Sweden, by offering a negative bank rate, effectively meaning that commercial banks would be charged for keeping their money there.

The Concept of Negative Interest

During the pandemic and previous recessions, banks have notoriously tightened their belts and been unable to lend to consumers as freely as during better times. This has a knock-on effect where individual earners and households are unable to pump as much of their hard-earned money into the economy, and crucially this can bring the property market to a grinding halt. To prevent this scenario from repeating, the Bank of England is exploring the concept of negative interest rates. Commercial banks are required to keep a certain amount of funds in the Bank of England for safety reasons. However, any funds deposited beyond this threshold would have a negative interest rate applied to them, meaning that commercial banks would be charged a fee for storing their money there. The aim of the negative interest strategy is ultimately to encourage banks to lend their money out generously, motivating consumers to spend within the economy.

Great News For First-Time Buyers

A Stock estate agency explains that first-time buyers have been hit hard this year, as the number of mortgage products available to them with 5% or even 10% deposits have simply vanished into thin air. The effect of the government’s stamp duty holiday has been to inflate property prices further, which has been excellent news for vendors, but terrible for first-timers who are seeing their dreams of becoming property owners move further away. The potential introduction of negative interest rates would be excellent news for first-time buyers, as banks would be encouraged to lend out again. This makes it more likely that those former LTV products would reappear and be snapped up by buyers with their deposits ready.

Existing Property Owners

For property owners with existing mortgages, you might be wondering how the proposed negative interest rates will affect your own loan. This largely depends on the type of mortgage product you hold. For example, if you’ve taken out a fixed rate mortgage so you can guarantee the cost of your monthly repayments, then unfortunately any change to the bank rate won’t change your outgoing payments. Of course, once your fixed term comes to an end, you may look to remortgage to a different product and could make considerable savings if a negative interest rate is applied at this time. Homeowners on tracker rate mortgages are most likely to take advantage of the situation and it’s possible that you’d see your monthly repayments fall substantially depending on the balance left on your mortgage. In countries such as Denmark, mortgage products exist with a negative interest rate deal of -0.5%. Instead of receiving a cheque for the amount of money owed to a borrower, instead the calculated debt is simply knocked off the outstanding mortgage balance each year. A £100,000 mortgage would have an additional £500 per year wiped off it on a -0.5% rate deal.

As yet, it’s unclear if this a path that the Bank of England will definitely take. However, Deputy Governor, Sam Woods has approached the heads of UK financial institutions and asked them to prepare for such a scenario.

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