More than half of mobile phone users have been targeted by phone scammers in the past year, new research has revealed.
Some 58% of people have received suspect calls - a sharp rise from 41% who reported being targeted in the previous year, Financial Fraud Action UK said.
Its study found that the increase in scam calls was also reflected in the amount of money lost by victims. Over the past 12 months, at least £23.9 million can be attributed to 'vishing' scams – whereby fraudsters pose as legitimate organisations over the phone to steal people's financial information and empty their bank accounts – a figure that has risen from £7 million in the previous year.
The worrying findings have prompted banks, building societies, credit card companies and the police launch a new campaign to warn people over the dangers of telephone scams and make them aware of the warning signs.
Cold call scams typically involve fraudsters tricking victims into believing they are speaking to their bank, building society or a police officer. They will claim that the person has been a victim of identification fraud and will ask for their personal identification numbers or passwords in order to gain access to their accounts.
And despite the growing threat, 25% of people make no effort to challenge the identity of a caller, while more than a third (36%) said they found it difficult to tell the difference between a genuine and fraudulent call.
Karen Bradley, home office minister for organised crime, said: "I'm determined that we beat the criminal gangs that are using scams to systematically defraud consumers by exploiting their trust over the telephone. An important part of preventing these crimes is for trusted institutions like banks and the police raising awareness of the warning signs, as well as reminding the public how to react if they get a suspicious call.
"This joint declaration, produced by the banks and supported by the police, will make it more difficult for criminals to deceive consumers, and it is welcomed by government as an important part of the armoury of fraud prevention measures."
To make people aware, the campaign has published a list of things your bank or police will never ask you or do:
- Your four digit card PIN or your online banking password
- To withdraw money to hand over to them for safekeeping
- To transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons
- Send someone to your home to collect your cash, PIN, payment card or cheque book if you are a victim of fraud
- Ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safekeeping.