'Vishing' phone scams on the rise

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Fraudsters are increasingly posing as legitimate organisations over the phone to steal people's financial information and empty their bank accounts in a scam known as 'vishing', according to Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK).

Almost a quarter of people in the UK (23%) have received a cold call requesting this information, potentially putting them at risk of becoming victims, it said.

FFA UK estimates the cost of vishing has already amounted to £7 million and that
one in 25 adults in the UK may have been a victim, with 43% of those victims aged 50 or above.

Vishing involves a scammer making a phone call to a potential victim, pretending to be from a bank or building society fraud team, the police, or a telephone or internet provider.

The caller alerts the victim to 'suspected fraud' on their account and then asks them to call the scammer back, fooling the victim into thinking they are calling a legitimate organisation.

However, what victims don't realise is that when they think they have ended the call the scammer has actually kept the phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end.

When the victim makes what they think is a new call, they are asked to confirm information – which often includes their credit/debit card details, PINs, bank account details, name, date of birth or address.

The victim's account is then raided by the fraudster, setting up payments into their own account.

2013's top scams to know and avoid

A variation on the vishing scam involves the victim being persuaded to withdraw money from a branch or ATM to pay the fraudster.

DCI Dave Carter, head of the dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit, said: "Always be wary of cold callers who suggest you hang up the phone and call them back. Fraudsters will keep your phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end.

"Remember that it takes two people to terminate a call so try to use a different phone line if you are asked to ring back. If you think you've already been a victim of this scam, contact your bank or card company immediately."

Tips on how to stay safe

Never disclose your:

  • Four-digit card PIN to anyone, including your bank or the police
  • Full passwords
  • Full name, address or date of birth unless you are sure who you are talking to

And remember, your bank or the police will never:

  • Ask for your four-digit card PIN
  • Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them, or transfer money to another account – even if they say it is in your name
  • Come to your home to collect your cash, payment card or cheque book
  • Ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safe keeping

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