/ Money

Scam warning: fake phone calls from the ‘Visa’ fraud department

A complex scam involving phone calls from ‘Visa’ followed by the ‘police’ is currently doing the rounds. Here’s what you need to watch out for.

30/07/2019: ‘Visa’ fraud department scam returns

Over the last few weeks, we’ve received multiple reports of this scam phone call doing the rounds once again:

Reports of the ‘newer’ version of this scam appear to vary, with some saying that two fraudulent calls are received – one from the fake fraud department, and another from the ‘police’.

Meanwhile, others are reporting an automated call in which you’re prompted to ‘press 1’ if you did not authorise the claimed transaction. This figure has been consistently reported here as £600.

If you receive an unsolicited call like this and are unsure if it’s legitimate, always check with your bank via its official contact channels instead of following any instructions.

If you’re worried about calls like this, or have fears you may have been a victim, read our full guide to phone scams here.

Calls can also be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or via its online reporting tool.

Have you received this scam call recently? Continue to let us know and warn others in the comments.

Original Convo 19/05/2017

Which? member Brian 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.

Sadly, older telephone exchanges don’t allow this to happen – as long as the calling party remains on the line, the recipient’s line remains busied. As BT upgrade their telephone exchanges, this problem will be reduced (either party can clear the line. I send a burst of 2280Hz tone to scammers, which (in most cases) closes down trunk lines!


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.

What on earth is a triangulation call?

One routed through Bermuda? 🙂

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.

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 ]

They don’t give up. I guess they are fans of PT Barnum who is reputed to have said “There’s one (a sucker) born every minute.”

Had a call this morning from someone pretending to be ‘James Hadleigh of Visa’ to inform me that ‘they’ wished to confirm that I had made two debit card transactions that morning – one at a Tesco store ‘in the Greater Manchester area’ and the other at Harrod’s, Knightsbridge.

Being a Yorkshireman I avoid Manchester, because I rust in the rain, and the remote nature of the second transaction has been impossible, except as a ‘cardholder not present’ sale, since I gave up flying my own personal Mach 2 fighter aircraft.

Having made a guess that I had an account at a particular Bank, (From a list of banking companies I offered, some of which were lies) they then told me to expect a call within thirty minutes from the Fraud Department of the bank they had guessed, so I told them I would be delighted to receive the call, although I’d happily call personally at the local branch to deal with the matter more swiftly.

More than thirty minutes has elapsed. Maybe they aren’t suckers either, and have moved on in search of another victim.

Ted Parry says:
27 June 2019

They are still at it … suggest they develop a few new scripts … used the eBay and Poland story …
Still it makes a change from the usual “this is TalkTalk, there is a problem with your internet …
Just leave me alone … Please …

AvSec says:
1 July 2019

Just had a call with exactly the same scam.

Having ‘muted’ the phone the line went dead when no response from me.

[This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Please see community guidelines – https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ ]

Colin Morris says:
3 July 2019

Had three ‘recorded’ calls today from ‘Visa Fraud dept’ saying a £600 transaction was being investigated and I was to press 1 on my phone to talk to some department or other. I hung up, no 147 number was recorded.

JanP says:
5 July 2019

Have had exactly the same calls yesterday and today. Thanks for sharing. as it has reassured my elderly mother that these calls are scams.

My elderly mother-in-law has also received 3 of these calls. Obviously, at 95 years old, she gets very anxious. Did either of you have a call from someone ‘doing a survey’ prior to these calls? Unfortunately, she told them her age at which point she was informed she ‘was not in the right age bracket’!

I think a lot of these calls are made during the working day, so that anyone who answers is more likely to be elderly.

On my mobile, I regularly get calls from a (fake?) Manchester number asking for “Mr Watson”. When next have the time, I’d like to play out the role of Mr Watson and see where the callers want to take me. As a devout skinflint, I do not expect that any of money will be put a risk by that.

I have reported these calls to the BT Scam Calls website and to Action Fraud. Let’s hope some action is taken!

Eric P says:
8 July 2019

Just had two “Visa Secure” recorded voice calls about a £600 transaction on my account and I should press “1” to speak to someone.

Just received the exact same call from ‘Visa Secure’ for the same stated amount. I did not press ‘1’. Having confirmed with Visa that this is a scam, and also told they are aware of and working on this particular caller I am reporting it here for others to see. 1471 showed the number as 001 6197 35080 – from the USA so perhaps one area of crime that Mr Kahn could lecture Mr Trump about.

Sue Jaymes says:
24 July 2019

What would happen if you did press 1?

I expect the scammer would attempt to get some personal identification data from you including your credit card and bank details. Your accounts would then really be invaded and you could lose a lot more than £600. Pressing 1 also confirms that it is a live line and opens the way to further scam attempts.

If anybody had suffered a fraudulent hit on their Visa account it would not be a recorded message that would inform them and there would be some security questions at the outset to ensure that they were speaking to the right card-holder.

Sandy says:
5 August 2019

It is missing one number, so it can’t be a genuine American/Canadian number.

At 16:50 today I received an automated call with a female voice saying “ This is an emergency call from visa secure about an online transaction for the sum of £600 that was made today , if you did not authorise this transaction press 1 on your keypad “ this is the second call I have had today from them . I Phoned visa from the number on the back of my card and reported it and verified that it is a scam .

N Bramwell says:
10 July 2019

Had 2 automated messages yesterday supposedly from Visa security and 1 this morning saying a £600 transaction had occurred on our Visa card and to press 1 to speak to someone if the transaction was not ours. Interestingly, when we 1471d this mornings call, the message said that the call was from what seemed like our local area code followed by a valid phone number but the area code had an additional 0 in front of it. Looks like the scammers are getting cleverer as some people will just not realise that the additional 0 indicates something suspicious. Surely if there is a genuine suspicious transaction, the call will come directly from your bank and not Visa. We have constantly had the ‘Talk Talk technical department call and your internet will be disconnected that day’ so we treat all calls as suspicious until we satisfy ourselves they are genuine.

Lee Sullivan says:
10 July 2019

Same here 3 calls all saying £600 taken out

Margaret Rice says:
10 July 2019

Ditto. 3 calls today. Automated voice saying from Visa Secure, £600 online transaction. Press 1. Definitely a scam.

Niamh says:
11 July 2019

Just had one today on the landline that is not linked to any of our accounts . Same as above This is an emergency call from visa secure about an online transaction for the sum of £600 that was made today , if you did not authorise this transaction press 1 on your keypad “ My son took the call as I was busy and he hung up as he know to do so 🙂 1471 gives a 01926 number that has a full voicemail box when called. I look forward to being around for their next call to have some fun wasting their time…Oh the joys…

Jean says:
22 August 2019

Same here. Call today re Visa card and £600. I did press 1 and got an Indian voice telling me he was from BT and my broadband had been hacked. Told him he was talking c**p and rang off.