/ Money

Scam watch: have you had fake phone calls from the ‘Visa’ fraud department?

scam call

A complex scam involving phone calls from ‘Visa’ followed by the ‘police’ is currently doing the rounds. Fortunately, one member was savvy enough not to fall for it…

Which? member Brian Moore told us:

‘I was called by a man purporting to be from the Visa fraud department. He said they’d registered two large transactions on my debit card earlier that day at Argos and the Apple Store. This last transaction had supposedly been stopped as it was ‘not my usual spending pattern’ and I hadn’t authorised it.

‘He told me about further transactions that had been stopped until this matter could be sorted out, and that I needed to phone 161 to report that I had been the victim of identity fraud.

‘I didn’t immediately call the number. Within 10 minutes, I received another call, supposedly from the police, who had apparently received a call from my number ‘via triangulation’! He asked whether I wanted a patrol car sent or if there was anything I needed to report, so I put the phone down.

‘My bank confirmed this was a scam and that none of these transactions had taken place. I suppose if I had called 161 they would have asked for my card details.’

Fake force

Brian’s suspicions were probably correct. Whatever number he dialled, it’s likely the scammer would have stayed on the line and posed as the police.

The triangulation claim after he failed to make a phone call to the number he was given was bizarre. The police will never ask for your bank details when you report an ID fraud.

If Brian had asked for a patrol car, the scammers would probably have attempted to take his card.

He was right to double-check with his bank.

Have you received similar phone calls? What did you do?


The answer to these types of calls is simple….

Both phones need to be instantly disconnected if either party cut the call.

I don’t understand why telephone companies haven’t been made to do this yet.


This is an old link about action taken to reduce disconnection times – to 2 seconds in some cases. I hope someone can provide later information.

I hardly ever get nuisance phone calls these days, and not because of the feeble efforts of law enforcement, other authorities or telecoms companies, but because I invested in a call screening phone, at my own expense.

That said, I do believe too many people are just plain gullible these days although for some people it’s not their fault due to mental conditions etc.

We could do with more public information films across all media to better highlight the dangers out there.
Something like the old Police 5, just 5 mins a week ( think I’ve made that suggestion before).

I wonder if all the suckers completing surveys for fake vouchers are where some of these personnel details are coming from. So far this month I’ve identified 20 scams involving UK companies many many more involving companies operating in other countries. I’ve notified Trading Standards and Action Fraud yet hardly see any effort being put in to warn people. I wish I had the power to take down websites as I wouldn’t need to waste my time dealing with the authorities.

T Dabbs says:
21 May 2017

What on earth is a triangulation call?

One routed through Bermuda? 🙂

Brian Lofkin says:
15 October 2018

I had such a call today from “Detective Rogers of the Visa Fraud Department” I was asked about a £950 TV bought this morning on my Visa card, obviously not bought by me and so told to ring 161 – the non emergency police number!!
101 is the real non- emergency police number.
I put the phone down and did not ring 161.
The phone gave 2 rings so I picked it up – no connection.
This happened a few times until a voice said it was from 161 Fraud Department.
I put the phone down.
I had previously heard of the triangulation trick that scammers use, but in connection with bank fraud when you are asked to immediately ring the bank to check.

Alan Milligan says:
25 October 2018

I received a similar call yesterday saying that there had been two large payments made against my card, one through eBay and a transfer to Poland. I told him that they were fraudulent actions and requested my card simply be cancelled. He said that they still needed to investigate the fraud, but when I asked which card was involved he said that it was confidential information that couldd not be divulged. . I then asked for the last four digits or the name of the bank involved. When he said Barclays bank I knew this was a scam because I do not have a card with that bank. Finally, I told him that I would personally get in touch with my local bank at which point he put the phone down. I knew that at some stage he would begin asking for personal details but we never got that be.

Theophe says:
1 February 2019

I received a similar call at 00:35 (!) on 1 Feb 2019 on my landline. This time it was a loud and overbearing female informing me that a transaction for £7000 had gone through on my Visa card 38 minutes ago and that a second was being requested right now. Since this did not seem to be my regular spending pattern…e tc.
Problem is…. I do not have a Visa card. I tried to get as much information out of her and finally told her I would ring the police, she promptly gave me the 161 number and told me to quote the number of her call.
I hung up. Waited for a few minutes, when I lifted the phone again, the line was still open. So I hung up again and tried to ring Visa – where I was kept dangling for a while. So I reported this attempt to the police via their dedicated website, which is not that dedicated, since it is designed to record successful crimes only.
Very smooth scammer operation. 1471 told me the number had been withheld.

William Forsyth says:
3 April 2019

I had a call from visa security 10:50 am on a Wednesday. They said that there had been fraudulent activity on my debit card, £834 for a laptop – 45 minutes ago. At the end of his script I asked him to take me through their standard security clearance questions as he’d already broken several rules by sharing information with me. He said it was a serious fraud … . I asked “which of my credit cards had been used?” He said it was a debit card fraud and I should contact the police. I asked “Which of my debit cards had been used?” and why wasn’t he asking me to call back on the number on the back of the card, as this would then follow their process. He gave up on me at this point. 1471 gave number withheld.

billie-belle says:
5 April 2019

Snap Pre recorded voice claiming tp be Visa fraud dept. (I should coco!!) say they had an unauthorised transaction on a card ….put phone down and used 1471 [This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Community guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines ]

Tim Cole says:
8 April 2019

Just received a call today. Like Alan Milligan's report in October they mentioned an ebay purchase and a Poland transfer. I asked which bank and he wouldn't say – sticking with "This is Visa". I asked him to give me two numbers from my card, which he said was not secure – and then he asked me for the first four! 1471 listed the number as [This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Community guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines ]