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Watch out for phone fraudsters

Watch out for phone fraudsters

Category: Banking

Updated: 30/10/2014
First Published: 30/10/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Scammers and fraudsters are nothing new, but their tactics and methods are always changing and becoming ever more sophisticated. Now they are harnessing caller IDs to trick victims into handing over personal and sensitive information.

This latest scam is known as 'number spoofing', and it involves the fraudster cloning the number of an organisation, such as a bank, and programming it to appear as the caller ID when they make a call. To gain the victim's trust, the fraudster will draw their attention to the number displayed on their phone as 'proof' that they are who they say they are.

Fraudsters are currently using this method to pose as police officers, bank staff and other trusted organisations that are ringing under the pretence that fraud has been detected on the victim's account. Once the victim's confidence has been gained, the caller will try to extract PIN numbers, online passwords and other highly sensitive information in order to steal from their bank account.

Some criminals will also attempt to trick victims into sending money to a 'protected' or 'safe' account, or ask them to complete a test transaction. Other scammers will pressure victims into handing over cash or cards to a courier for 'safekeeping'.

According to the Financial Fraud Bureau (FFA), this type of scam has become increasingly common in the last few weeks, so you may want to be on your guard.

To beat the scam, the advice is simple: never assume that someone is who they say they are just because their number matches that of a trusted organisation. You should be especially suspicious if the scammer tries to use their caller ID as proof of their identity.

It's important to remember that your bank, a police officer, or any other trusted person, will never ask you for your PIN number or passwords. They will also never ask you to transfer or withdraw money, or hand your card over to a courier.

Commenting on the rise of this type of crime, Craig Jones, of FFA UK, said: "Number spoofing is becoming increasingly common and it's not difficult for the criminals to fake a caller ID. So if a number appears on your phone's caller ID display, you shouldn't assume you know where the call is being made from.

"Remember that if a caller is trying to draw your attention to the number on your display, it's very unlikely the call is genuine as there is no legitimate reason to point it out."

If you think you may have been tricked by a fake caller ID, contact your card provider straight away to cancel any cards that may have been jeopardised. You should also call your bank or building society as soon as possible to check for fraudulent activity.

What next?

Read our guide on keeping online bank accounts safe

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.