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Don’t put your money on the line. Watch out for ‘vishing’ scams

‘Vishing’ or 'voice-phishing' involves a fraudster making a phone call and posing as an official caller from a credible organisation, such as your bank, the police or your internet provider to gain access to sensitive personal information, such as financial details and security codes. Here are some of the latest scenarios these criminals are using to commit fraud.

It’s mid-afternoon, and you get a call from your bank warning you that there has been a data breach and that you’ve been targeted by criminals. Your money is at risk, the situation is critical. To help them verify your details and stop your account being emptied the caller asks you for your password and PIN.

How would you react?

Hopefully, you’d recognise it as a scam and hang up. Yet, according to Financial Fraud Action UK (FFAUK) four in 10 people (39%) admitted that they found it challenging to tell the difference between a legitimate caller and a scam. Moreover, these con artists know what they're doing when it comes to manipulating your responses and will speak with a sense of urgency, which activates a part of your brain that influences decision-making. This subtle application of pressure can lead you to make poor decisions, as you rush to help the bank secure your account.

Scammers impersonate the police

In another variation of the scam, you receive a call from someone claiming to be a police officer, investigating fraud at your bank. They may ask you to withdraw a large sum of cash from the bank, explaining that the money needs to be forensically examined. They may also ask you not to tell anyone working at the bank about why you are withdrawing the money because they are under suspicion.

You are then instructed to put your bank cards and/or money into an envelope and give them to the courier that they are sending to your house. The courier (who may or may not be part of the scam), will then take your cash and bank cards back to the offenders, who will proceed to empty your bank account.

Calling their bluff

Of course, you might become suspicious and question the validity of what the caller is saying. If this happens, the caller may suggest that you telephone your local police station to confirm the caller’s identity. 

However, what you don’t realise is that the caller hasn’t hung up, so the line remains open, even when you hang up. When you call your local police station, you’ll be put straight back through to the offender who will then pretend to be another person. This ‘new’ person will then validate the ‘original’ caller’s claims. 

Older people are particularly at risk

Anyone can become a victim of scams, including people of all ages and those who are generally financially shrewd and cautious. But within this array of potential victims, older people may be particularly targeted, often because criminals assume that they will have more money than younger people. 

Furthermore, criminals will target older or vulnerable people because they know that they can deceive them with little more than a good cover story. Elderly people, especially, living with dementia and cognitive decline are often sought out and targeted by fraudsters because they see them as ‘soft targets’ who can be easily coerced and intimidated into parting with their cash and belongings.  

Stay alert and take precautions against 'vishing' scams
  • A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. 
  • Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
  • Don’t be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
  • Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.

Remember to remain vigilant against fraud at all times, and if you do have any suspicions contact ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk


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