Five questions on phone scams: How do they trick people into believing them?
Are people still falling for these?
They sure are. There was an alarming threefold rise to £23.9m in the amount of money lost to phone scammers last year, according to Financial Fraud Action UK.
How do they work?
The scams centre on fraudsters tricking victims into believing they are speaking to a police officer or bank staff, or a representative of another trusted organisation, such as a computer company. The crooks then try to get people to reveal passwords or hand over cash or plastic to someone claiming to be a courier who will hold it for safe keeping. The con can include asking for card details, four-digit PINs and passwords. Sometimes fraudsters try to persuade their victims to transfer money to other accounts, hand over bank cards directly to a courier, or withdraw money from a branch.
How do they trick people into believing them?
The fraudsters use the clever deceit of encouraging their victims to call the bank or police to verify their identity. But they actually stay on the line, which can remain open for up to two minutes. When the victim picks up the phone to make what they assume is a new call, the criminal's accomplice is there to fool them into believing that they are now connected to the bank or a police officer.
How can you spot a fraudster?
If anyone rings you claiming to be from the police or your bank, and asking for personal or financial details, they're lying. "The bank or the police will never tell you to take such actions, so if you're asked, it can only be a criminal attack," says DCI Perry Stokes, head of the police's Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit.
What should you do if you're targeted?
"Wait five minutes and call your bank, preferably from a different telephone, if you have even the slightest doubt," advises DCI Stokes.