More than half of people in the UK have been affected by phone scams in the last year resulting in losses of £23.9m, new research has found.
The research published by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) shows a significant rise in the number of consumers who have been targeted by phone scammers and in the amount of money lost by these scams.
In summer 2013 FFA UK found that 41% of people had been affected with a loss of £7m in the previous year.
Make sure you don’t fall foul of the scammers. Read our guide to how to spot a scam.
Bank information targeted
These types of cold call scams – known as vishing – typically involve fraudsters deceiving people into believing they are speaking to a police officer, a member of bank staff, or a representative of another trusted agency, such as a government department.
Usually the fraudster will convince an individual that they have been a victim of fraud, and will ask for personal and financial information in order to gain access to their account. This can include card details, four digit PINs and passwords.
Another variation of the scam involves the fraudster persuading the individual to transfer money to other accounts or to hand over cash directly to a courier.
Difficult to spot a vishing scam
Despite the growing threat to the public, the FFA UK research found that a quarter of people make no effort to challenge the identity of callers asking for financial information.
Almost 50% are unaware of the fraudsters’ trick of encouraging people to call the bank to verify their identity, only to stay on the line, which can remain open for up to two minutes.
The fraudsters play a dialling tone down the phone to make you think they’ve hung up and that you’re making a genuine call to your bank.
Worryingly, 10% said they would either give cash to a courier, hand over their card, or move money into another account if requested to do so by a criminal purporting to be from their bank.
But beware – you won’t automatically be entitled to get your money back if you willingly hand it over to a scammer. Read our guide explaining how to get your money back after a scam.
How to protect yourself
In no circumstances would your bank or the police ask you for your PIN or online banking password, or send someone to your home to collect money or your PIN. Such requests will only come from a fraudster.
You should never disclose your four digit card PIN to anyone including bank staff or the police. Neither should you disclose your full password or online banking codes or personal details unless you are sure who you are talking to.