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Scam watch: look out for hoax callers

Scam watch

Fraudsters can be pushy, use scare tactics and urge you to take action before you have the chance to think. That’s what happened to Which? member Sandra Truran when she was targeted by a hoax caller.

Sandra told us: When someone claiming to be from Barclays’ bank fraud squad called to say there was a payment of £1,600 on my husband John’s debit card, we supplied him with our details, including the security number on the back of the card and the Pin. He also said he was sending a courier to our house to collect the card.

After I put the phone down I became suspicious, and a quick call to Barclays confirmed it was a scam, so they cancelled the card immediately. It was quite unnerving. We locked the door in case someone turned up. We were lucky we realised, but others might not.

Our advice for Sandra

If you realise you’ve given a fraudster your bank details, contact your bank immediately.

Your bank should refund any money taken. If it doesn’t, and can’t prove you acted negligently, ask for your claim to be escalated. If your bank’s decision is final, ask for a letter of deadlock so you can then refer your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). You can read more about this process on our consumer rights website.

The FOS will make a decision which is binding on the bank, but not on you, so you’re free to take your claim to court if you’re not satisfied – though think carefully whether it’s likely to be successful.

Have you experienced a similar scam? Did you fall for it? Were you able to get it resolved?


Occasionally I have received calls about financial matters. Even where I have thought them genuine, I have said that I will call back and have done so after looking up the number. The calls have proved genuine, but I do not regret being careful.

Any time someone rings me , I a ) never confirm who I am and b) make them prove they are who they say they are first. Unless I recognise the callers voice.

The only times I’ve been rung by a credit card company, I refuse to talk to them until they could do that first.

I’ve even managed to train my parents to do the same thing.

So no, I’ve never fallen for a phone scam. And the one described by Sandra , I thought, was a well known one. But obviously not.

I had an automated called from Nationwide after I tried to use my card on the internet & also tried to go into my account on line. I phoned Nationwide who said they had stopped my card as suspicious payments had been made, after asking me my security questions to prove it was me. In total, £3,578 was taken payments were made to several councils for rent & I Travel Lodge payment that they knew wasn’t me as I live nowhere near the places. Nationwide are very good with things like that but it happened online & whoever it was had been caught. They say they would never ring & ask for my details & Never Never give these to people that try & do this.

Here’s an article about it back as far as 2012 … http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/police-warn-people-of-new-courier-scam-mar12

Ken says:
17 April 2014

I am a Sky customer: I received a call purporting to be from Sky wanting to confirm my address before they sent me a new Sky card. He had my address and post code, went on to ask my date of birth and then wanted to check my bank details. I pointed out that they were successfully collecting my subscription every month and terminated the call. I contacted Sky who confirmed that it was not them and that the matter would be escalated. I suggested that they put a warning message to all subscribers displayed when we first switch on; but I’ve seen nothing.

Perversely, 3-weeks later the scammers called again but rang off when challenged, number withheld.

I have received a telephone call this evening from someone purporting to be from an Investment Company acting on behalf of my bank. They correctly quoted the name of my bank and requested that I take part in a small survey. It was very difficult for me to understand the name of the company but I assured them that I had never heard of them and was definitely not interested. They promptly hung up. This is the second such call I have received in as many days from I assume was the same company.

Dave says:
17 April 2014

I have a BT 6500 phone which allows me to block calls from International , Withheld and No Caller ID numbers. This eliminates the majority of scam calls . I allow my answer machine to answer my incoming calls. My answer machine message states ” If you are a cold caller, hang up I will not deal with you” They always do hang up as even the dimmest of scam callers realise that they can’t con an answer machine and they will move on to their next potential victim.

Many cold calls are, unfortunately, recorded messages. I often find my answering machine cluttered up with them. ‘Human’ cold callers rarely leave messages.

AndyD says:
19 April 2014

It would help if the credit card companies we a bit more savvy. When someone took £1500 out of my account in Canada (!) with a cloned card, they didn’t bat an eyelid. But when I try and use the card to buy £10 of phone credit, THEN they’re suspicious and want to check it out.

Sandra said “we supplied him with our details, including the security number on the back of the card and the Pin”??? Yet how many times have Banks told us they never never ever ask for security or PIN numbers by phone???
Sandra and anyone else worried about this, please start paying attention. Better to hang up on a genuine caller thinking it’s a scam than risk falling for it.

KeithW says:
21 April 2014

This is known as the “courier scam” and is well known and has been reported on frequently in both national and my local press. I had such a call on my landline about two months ago from someone claiming to be from NatWest online banking security department (who I don’t bank with) and then they said they were from Santander and working together (which is simply not true as these banks are not linked). They told me my credit card had been compromised and that I should immediately ‘phone the customer service number on the back of my card – they didn’t ask for that number for any other details at that time, but I knew that they would keep the ‘phone line open and pretend to be customer services when I made the call. To prevent this I ‘phoned my landline from my mobile and then from the landline to my mobile to make sure the landline was clear. I then used my mobile to ‘phone my card’s customer services to report the incident. They confirmed there was no unusual activity on my card.
A variation on this scam is where the call purports to come from the police saying they have been notified of fraud committed on your card or bank account.

Nic F says:
7 May 2014

We have just had a similar scam claiming to be from Lloyds Bank online banking. They said someone had used our debit card to make several purchases this morning and we should ring the number on the back of the card to cancel it, immediately. They asked several questions about any other accounts we have anywhere else. Thank goodness I remembered reading somewhere, was it Which? warning about them keeping the line open so we used a mobile. That was when the real trouble started as we were put through to a call center in Scotland and nether I nor my husband could understand a word she said. She kept asking us different question trying to find something we could understand but no good. We were getting really worried thinking our account was being emptied while we waited but she would not cancel the cards. Eventually after 10 minutes we were put through to someone we could understand who confirmed that it was a scam. Meanwhile the scammer rang back on the land line saying she had heard we were trying to ring our bank to cancel the cards and she would do for me now. I told her my husband was on his mobile to the bank at the moment she went very quiet and rang off.

A few years ago I had a call from my Bank to say that my card was one of a number to have been compromised. I guess the procedure that was advised is the one that should be expected under such circumstances – I was told to destroy my existing card and that a new one would be sent to me. It all worked out OK. Any other procedure is likely to be fraudulent.

My bank and credit card supplier call me occasionally to check a transaction if they believe it to be fraudulent (on the few occasions this has happened, in each case it turned out it WAS a fraudulent transaction). They used to ask me for security info like date of birth and full address to confirm they were talking to me, but because I don’t trust anyone asking for that kind of info when THEY call me, I always asked them to prove who they were first by telling me any 2 transactions on my account or card in the last month or 2. They were happy to do this.

Stephen D says:
20 May 2014

There is a nasty scam going around conning those who are less well off and are trying to get credit. Whilst it may be easy to say don’t get involved, sometimes desperation can win over. By applying online for a basic credit card, I was contacted (by text) by a firm that said they could help me (Cash Finance Direct). These people have you ringing around premium numbers with no results. I now have a £70 phone bill! I was advised that I could reclaim this, however after checking various conversations on the internet, I hold out little hope. In hindsight there tactics are actually quite clever and I have a note of these which I will be sending to the FCA. This is certainly something for Which to look into.

I received a landline call claiming to be from “DC Paul Graham of the Fraud Department.” He asked me whether I recognised two possibly fraudulent transactions on my debit card – £399 to the Apple Store and a cash withdrawal of £250 in a distant part of London (which of course I didn’t) . He tried to reassure me that “of course I could be anybody, madam” then asked me to ring the bank’s number on the back of my card and give them his name and badge number (EK350) and they would confirm that he was genuine. I was very suspicious.

As I know that fraudsters have a trick of staying on the line so that the next outgoing call goes to them, I said very firmly that I would ring the number – but from my mobile – and put the phone down on him. He hasn’t rung again, so I don’t know what the next move would have been. The bank of course confirmed that the supposed dodgy transactions did not exist.

@Brenda, Their next move would have been to pass the phone to a colleague, so if you hadn’t checked for a dial tone ( apparently many people don’t 🙁 ) when you dial they just listen to you dial and then pretend to be your bank, and answer with a different voice from the original caller. Of course this “bank” will them ask you to confirm who you are asking for more details than a bank would, like your CCV and PIN and also confirm the card number. They then presumably re-assure you that everything is actually ok and your card hasn’t been affect and then go on a spending spree using it. 🙁

I’m glad you didn’t fall for it. I don’t suppose you did a 1471 to get the caller numbers did you ?

The other more frightening outcome is you do have an affected card and they’ll send a courier round to collect it and return to the the card company/ police for you. They then go on a spending spree with your card and card details you provided.

When I called my bank from my mobile, it was they who suggested 1471 – but of course the number had been withheld.

Liz says:
1 June 2014

Exact same caller and conversation happened to my husband this evening. I went to check on-line and no transactions had taken place. When I picked up the phone to call my bank as a precaution, I used my mobile after the land line sounded odd. He phoned back on the land line to tell us there were some more transactions going on… can’t believe it’s exactly the same name and story!

We have a problem we bought a asnwermachine to try stop scam callers however can’t use it properly as it would mean stopping phone calls from our GP or other services that call from an unknown number what a daft situation.

Had a call just this morning from something to do with BT apparently i’d signed up for something which was to stop scam calling it was through Which and they wanted to charge me £3.00 a month now the only thing i remember doing with Which was ages ago and i don’t remember at the time it being charged for had it been i’m guessing the charges would have been dealt with at the time. No way would i give my bank details over the phone in that way.

Not sure if anyone’s still following this thread – I’m a bit late for the party 🙂

Just to say that these scammers are getting wise to the ‘listen for a dial-tone’ defense.
There are reports that they play you recordings of tones (dial, ringing, etc) and even a recorded message that pretends to be a call-centre menu (press 1 to report a lost-card, etc),

I gather that “loophole” is to be closed in the future, I think the time to hold the line open is to be dropped to around 2 seconds.

@william: Excellent news – many thanks for the info.

I found an OpenReach announcement if anyone’s interested.

Seems they have already dropped the timeout to 10 seconds with a further drop due sometime.

Anyone able to test this?

Interesting that they realised they shouldn’t timeout a 999 call.

Sorry …. ignore this post – just trying to get on the email list for this thread!

Dee says:
26 July 2014

My elderly mother gets frequent calls asking her to confirm her age and postcode. Anyone know what this could be? She replies “I’m over 80 goodbye”

I usually just say, sorry I don’t answer questions over the phone, please take me off whatever list you’re using and don’t call me again. They invariably do call again and they get the same response.