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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Issue:- 28 April 2010

HMRC Tax Credit Reviews
Report by Patrick Trollope

WE are looking into an issue that has come to our attention, about the Self Employment Reviews of people claiming Tax Credits and would like to know of other readers who have had problems with this review. These reviews were publicised back in February, when it was announced to the media that there was to be a search for "tax credit cheats". (Ref) . If you have had any issues, please let us know by emailing our newsroom. We do think it is correct to do reviews, but we are deeply concerned about some issues which have been raised, and want to see if they are isolated incidents or, in fact, more wide spread. Your information can be kept fully confidential. You may want us to refer your ideas or information on to a local MP, or you might wish to seek the MP's help. Please indicate this clearly on the email you send to us. To find out if you can make a claim, why not visit this free advice guide page on:- For information on the Government’s Fraud and Error strategy for benefits and tax credits see:- We are awaiting a response from HMRC.

New chef for Ramada Plaza

A new Head Chef at one of Southport’s leading hotels says he will strive to continue its high standards of cuisine.  Fred Laithwaite, who has joined the kitchen team at the Ramada Plaza, says he also plans to introduce more seasonal fresh produce to the menu of the four-star hotel.  The 32 year old started his career at the age of 18, cooking in a variety of hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and gastro pubs in locations from New York to Gloucestershire. He has also previously established his own restaurant.  Mr Laithwaite said:- "I am very pleased to have joined such a prestigious hotel as the Ramada Plaza. The great thing is that we cater for such a broad range of customers - from those looking for a top quality gourmet meal to those wanting a simple pub-style lunch. We always have a varied and exciting menu here, and I plan to make the best of the excellent seasonal fresh produce which is readily available locally."  Hotel General Manager Enda Rylands said:- "Fred has extensive experience and will be a great asset to the hotel. We are delighted to welcome him on board."


SEFTON MBC's Trading Standards officers are warning residents in Sefton to be on the guard following a spate of reported 'phishing' emails.

Phishing is the name given to the practice of sending emails at random purporting to come from a genuine company operating on the internet. This is done in an attempt to trick customers into disclosing information at a bogus website operated by fraudsters.

One reported email purports to be from Western Union with the subject:- "Your money transfer has been authorised". The email details a transaction of 600 Euros that claim to have been paid on behalf of the recipient and asks them to click a link for a refund if the payment should not have been made.

A second email claims to be from Microsoft in relation to a hotmail account which will be shut down if the recipient does not respond to the email and update usernames and passwords.

The intention of both emails is to obtain personal information from the recipient including bank details.

Sefton Council Trading Standards manager, Andrew Naisbitt, said:- "These are classic examples of 'phishing' emails. They catch many people out as they claim to come from organisations that they may already deal with and the bogus websites can be very convincing copies of the genuine sites. Other examples appear to come from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), eBay or banks and building societies. Some phishing emails threaten that there will be consequences if you don't reply, but don't be fooled. The sole purpose of the bogus site is to trick you into revealing your personal information, confidential passwords and even bank details, so the operators can steal your identity, run up bills or commit crimes in your name. Our advice is don't reply to such emails, don't give out personal details and to contact your bank, building society or credit card company immediately if you think you may have already done so."

Anyone wishing to report a scam email can do so by contacting Consumer Direct on:- 08454040506 or by using the 'Report a scam' facility on the Consumer Direct

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