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Warning: Telephone Scams

21st December 2012

We are aware that a number of telephone scams are operating, some of which have received press coverage.

While the specific details of these scam calls will vary the key elements remain the same:

  • A cold call, supposedly from someone in a position of authority/management warning of alleged fraudulent activity on your account or using your card(s),
  • They may ask you to confirm some basic details – address and date of birth for example,
  • They will explain that you need to contact your bank/card provider urgently, and suggest you hang up and call immediately,
  • You will hang up and dial your bank/card provider,
  • There may or may not be a dial-tone,
  • The operator will ask you for your security details; PINs and 3 digit security codes for cards, usernames and passwords for online banking, and details from any multi-factor authentication tool you may have been issued – like a digital key fob or token,
  • They will keep you on the line, potentially asking for this information multiple times, suggesting they need it to refund fraudulent transactions,
  • These calls can last hours, so that the fraudster can perform multiple transactions on your account.

This fraud is perpetrated by land-lines not disconnecting if only the recipient hangs up, you are then still talking to the fraudster not your bank/card provider; in this instance there would be no dial tone, however fraudsters may play a recorded dial tone to give the impression a new line has connected and you are calling your bank/card provider. You are then divulging all your security details to them and they can transact freely with those details.

Banks and card providers may, from time to time, call you about possible fraud on your account but they will not ask for all your security details, the PIN for your card for example. If you receive a cold call about possible fraud, take the following action:

  • Do be suspicious of cold calls; does the story ring true? How would the caller get your home number if they are from a store, for example? Are they asking more security information than normal?
  • Don’t divulge card details like the PIN or 3 digit security code,
  • Don’t provide details from multi-factor authentication tools, like digital fobs, that you do not normal reveal when dealing with your bank,
  • Do hang up and call your bank/card provider from a different land-line or mobile phone if you receive a call like this – they will not mind if they have genuinely called you, and if was a fraudulent call you can alert you bank and they can check your account.

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