Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Elderly hit by new phone scam

Housebound and elderly people are being targeted with a new telephone scam that involves con men posing as bank staff or police, a fraud watchdog has warned.
The fraud, which has cost victims £7m in a year, is difficult to detect when well- executed, Financial Fraud Action UK said.
The criminals instruct the victim to disclose credit and debit card information before emptying the person’s bank accounts.
Those who have fallen into the trap have had their life savings wiped out within 24-hours. Around one in four adults in the UK has received a cold call like this. Financial Fraud Action said 43pc of victims have been aged over 50
possibly reflecting the higher proportion of elderly people who spend working hours at home.
The new con is dubbed “vishing”. It involves a fraudster posing on the phone as someone from a bank or building society fraud investigation team, the police or another legitimate organisation such as a telephone or internet provider. An automated system calls the unsuspecting victim. Once they pick up the receiver the criminal, posing as a representative of a reputable organisation, claims an urgent need for their debit or credit card details, this often involves telling the bank customer their card has been cloned and fraud is about to be enacted on their account.
The crook urges the victim to act straight away to avoid the disaster.
If he or she can sense doubt, they urge their victim to put down the phone and ring back. However, the criminal simply stays on the line and either pretends to answer the phone or passes the receiver to another member of the gang.
It may sound far-fetched, but the scam is so believable that four in ten people fail to see through tricks, Financial Fraud Action said.
Once the details have been handed over, the criminal simply empties the account. In some circumstances, victims are being persuaded to go into their bank, withdraw their life savings and then hand them over to a courier who arrives at their front door later in the day.
Financial Fraud Action said it had seen a £36m increase over the past year in crimes involving either online or phone banking, purchases made online and over the phone or criminals filling out fraudulent applications.
The fraud prevention body said people should not be afraid to just put the phone down on someone if they are unsure about handing over details.
It warned consumers never to assume a caller is genuine just because they hold some information about them. Criminals may already have obtained some basic information to try to make the call appear legitimate. Real bank employees would never ask for passwords, it stressed.
Caldwell and Jessica Winch. Daily Telegraph. 31.8.2013

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