/ Scams

Scam alert: National Insurance number ‘compromised’ cold call

If you’ve received a pre-recorded message or phone call claiming your National Insurance number has been compromised, you can safely ignore it. It’s a scam.

We’ve been made aware that an official sounding voice usually claiming to be from the National Crime Agency or ‘National Office for Serious Crimes’ has been cold calling unsuspecting members of the public, asking them to call back urgently.

Fraudsters will then try to manipulate you into handing over personal information using a web of lies and threats. 

We’ve heard from dozens of people targeted by this scam over the past few months. Action Fraud data shows it is the most reported phone scam of this year so far, having received more than 1,000 reports.

One victim told us that when he returned the call he was falsely told that someone had been using his National insurance number (NINo) to claim Universal Credit.

The scammer told him that if he didn’t hand over his personal details so they could make a ‘correction’ he would be liable to repay thousands of pounds in fraudulently claimed benefits and could be sent to prison. At this point he realised something wasn’t right and put the phone down, but the scammers continued to try and get in touch with him for more than a week.

Other victims have told us similar stories, all in which the scammers told them they had to hand over their personal information to be issued with a new NINo number.

Don’t be pressured for your details

In reality, there’s very little damage anyone could do with just your National Insurance number, even if someone had access to it.

But your other personal details, such as your name, date of birth, address and bank details are much more valuable to criminals. They could use this information to target you with more personalised scams, or try to gain access to your accounts.

No government organisation would ever pressure you to hand over sensitive information, and if you’re uncomfortable or unsure, just hang up the call.

The National Crime Agency is unlikely to call consumers directly about their National Insurance numbers. Which? has contacted it about this cold call and will publish any response here.

If you have concerns about your National Insurance number you can visit Gov.uk which offers contact numbers and web chat support.

How to protect yourself

If you’ve been tricked by this scam, don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

Contact your bank if you’re worried that you’ve given away your bank account or payment details. 

You can also sign up to Cifas. It’s a not-for-profit fraud prevention service service that monitors the use of your details to apply for bank accounts, credit cards or loans. 

As always, our guides for how to report scams and what you can do if you’ve lost money to a scam are available here.


Comments
Miss N Cartwright says:
27 April 2021

Yes just had the same one, several calls from 07884 number over last few days, this was the first one I answered and hung up, but only after being told by an automated voice that they are from National Crime Agency and I had to press one and speak with an officer or I could be arrested. Kept my head, but really scary.

Toni says:
27 April 2021

I had such a call today on my mobile. Caller’s number was 07887 594537 which was probably spoofed so not traceable.
Terribly “official” sounding recorded message threatening “your NI number to be suspended” upon suspected serious crime. Said I could was going to “be arrested imminently” unless I pressed 1 “to speak to an officer”.
At this point I was almost laughing out loud, and shut the ridiculuos call down.
But I realize that there are people who DO get threatened by such bogus. Please do not. Keep cool, just consider how the police or any authority would approach you it was real – certainly NOT is such an anonimous scary and urgent way. Was it personal, has your name been mentioned – NO. Do not panic, wait a little, delay things, ask others before you give away any information or commit to anything. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into blind reaction, then you wont be trapped by those crooks.

I just had the same call from 07887 726326, the phone number was scarily similar to mine which is why I answered but as soon as I heard the recorded voice I hung up. The sad thing is I no longer answer my home phone to unknown callers and every time I hear a recorded message, a sales pitch, or someone from one of the services I do use I just hang up without listening to what they have to say!! So if someone wants me for a real reason they need to leave a message, write to me, or come for a visit!!!

martin smith says:
28 April 2021

have not had this call, but a regular call is someone claiming to be from the tax office saying
” press 1 to connect to a person, if you do not a warrant for your arrest will be issued immediately “

Here’s a lady who knows how to deal with calls like that:-https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs1VaQRMfNo

I just had this message: GOV.UK Alerts
Your National Insurance has been deactivated
We would like to notify you that your National Insurance Number has been disabled due to fraudulent activity

If you have received a notification regarding it then it means your NIN is also disabled under this protection act.

You are now required to reactivate your NIN by proving your identity and updating your records.

Reactivate your National Insurance Number

Date: 28 April, 2021

Reference Number: 44814913935

You have 24 hours to reactivate your nin.

Follow the instructions on your screen.

You can read the entire GOV.UK Agreement here. You can also learn more about these updates on our FAQs page here, including a summary of the most notable changes. The updates to the GOV.UK Agreement will take effect on 15 Juâne 20â21. If you continue to use our products and services on or after 15 Juâne 20â21, you are agreeing to the updated GOV.UK Agreement.
If you do not agree, you can choose to discontinue using the products and services, and close your Microsoft account before these terms become effective. If you are a parent or guardian, you are responsible for your childâs or teenagerâs use of Microsoft products and services, including purchases.
Thank you for using Microsoft products and services.

rp – This is a scam which has nothing to do with your National Insurance number. That, and the false deadline, are just to frighten you into quickly supplying personal information so that fraudsters can access your accounts and attack your funds. The use of GOV.UK is an attempt to trick you into believing it is a genuine notification.

So far as I know, NI registrations are never de-activated and NI Nos. are never “disabled”. They are with you for life.

The Department of Work and Pensions [DWP] would only communicate with the individual in writing using their name and home address and quoting their National Insurance No. They would not send you an e-mail message. The reference number shown is made up and is not in the usual alpha-numeric format. There are various other clues to the lack of authenticity.

if you want confirmation of your NI status, check it only with the DWP. You can find the relevant contact details on any documentation you might have from them, or by asking your employer, or by visiting their website [which will be an official GOV.UK website].

It should be a criminal offence to impersonate a government website enforceable against the perpetrator and against any web host or carrier [e-mail service provider] that conveys such a false description.

There are also ways of blocking telephone numbers of unwanted or unidentified callers.

Susan Davies says:
29 April 2021

Just had the same call from this number 07896 955537. I hung up and blocked this number. Can see how some people would be caught out by this, especially elderly people.

I have had two of these today – both from mobile numbers beginning 07885

Peed.O.File-Kila says:
30 April 2021

[Moderator: we’ve removed this comment, as it did not adhere to Community guidelines. Remember comments that intentionally false or misleading, vulgar, racist, sexist, homophobic, or hateful aren’t welcome on Which? Conversation].

Comment above reported.

Is that so?

Ditto……..

Well, the comment is still on full view and the report button no longer appears. Perhaps he ought to have posted a joke or two. Seems they get removed very, very swiftly – in some cases.

Ian, You can still report mine or Johns reply which refers directly back to the offensive one. My first comment has been moved from the below the troll to below Johns. Once engaged with a troll you just add fuel to their fire. It’s best to ignore any further responses until it had been removed.

Well, fancy that. My comment has been held for moderation. At least the offensive comment is gone.

The only comment of yours I recall was certainly not worthy of being subject to moderation. Perhaps Which? would explain? Unless it was reported three times by others?

I don’t know if it was the same post, but I reported one earlier today.

It is better never to respond but just report them. What usually happens is an offending post gets removed and the replies left in limbo at the bottom of the convo until somebody gets around to looking at them. Which is when I get to post my Error 404 image. 😁

I just report them and they are usually dealt with promptly, avoiding the orphan comments and drawing attention to offensive posts. It’s what we were advised to do when Patrick Steen was in charge.

I made a “comment above reported” comment in case anyone was of a similar mind and wanted to get a quick removal of the post. In my view any subordinate posts following a removed comment should be taken down at the same time but if the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ process is automatic then that will be difficult and active moderation is required.

John, I wanted to report the offensive post also, but as there was no report button to press, I assumed that 2 others had pressed it before me so as to negate it. So I pressed the report button to both yours and my follow ups, hoping they would also be taken away and others would do likewise, but it appears that is now not possible as both mine are awaiting moderation and “Is that so” is going to inappropriately appear under any comment before it, which can unintentionally prove offensive!

Am I correct in assuming, if 3 people press the report button, it will automatically be replaced with a small blank square prior to an offensive post being taken away?

Beryl – I had assumed the same until Jon posted about this yesterday: https://conversation.which.co.uk/which-membership/welcome-to-the-new-which-conversation/#comment-1625107

Thanks for the link Wavechange. I obviously missed Jon’s comment yesterday. Its good to see the regulars keeping Convo staff members ‘on their toes.’
🙂

Penny says:
1 May 2021

My NI number has been ‘compromised ‘ for weeks, I am also in danger of being arrested by the Tax office. I just hang up and block the number. I think I must now have more blocked numbers than I do friends and family.

My (removed) comment was ironic: “Well, the comment is still on full view and the report button no longer appears. Perhaps he ought to have posted a joke or two. Seems they get removed very, very swiftly – in some cases.”

I don’t think Which? have a sense of humour Ian. I wish they responded to questions and requests for information just as efficiently.

Am I correct in assuming, if 3 people press the report button, it will automatically be replaced with a small blank square prior to an offensive post being taken away?

Partially @beryl – reporting it three times will remove the comment from public view and place it in the moderation queue.

The “Report” button disappearing is an unrelated bug, so if you’re seeing that and are unable to report it, please get in touch with the comment URL via the contact form and we’ll remove it accordingly.

In case you’re wondering why some of the comments temporarily disappeared on this thread, we moved the entire thread (parent comment and replies) into pending rather than just the parent comment in order to avoid creating comment orphans.

This, however, only partially worked – you would still be able to reply if you’d loaded the page before the parent comment was removed, or indeed reply to others who had replied to the thread before the thread was moved out of view, and this lead to some orphaned comments being created as well.

All should be restored now, and the parent comment removed, so apologies for any confusion generated here.

The best course of action with comments that aren’t appropriate to this space is to report and not engage. Building on @beryl‘s point of adding fuel to their fire and@wavechange’s point of calling attention to them, it also means more work for the moderation team in maintaining the threading structure rather than immediately removing the one comment.

Any investigation carried out by HMRC into your tax, National Insurance or Benefits would be dealt with by letter, sent to you at your home address, not an automated , scatter gun approach message that doesn’t mention you by name. This automated message is just to make you panic and respond to the request to contact the ‘Official’, when they will try to get your personal information from you.

And why would the caller need your personal details if they really were from HMRC – they already have them! If someone had appropriated your NiNo for fraudulent purposes, you would not be asked to repay the money. Any request from HMRC for repayment (for whatever reason ) would always be made in writing, with a computation of how the underpayment occurred and full details as to how the payment should be made.

If the scammers worked as hard in a legitimate business , they would be extremely well off!

The Bank of England sent my NI cancellation notice, how bizarre is that? 🤑

These ridiculous scam attempts presumably do work sufficiently well to justify continuing with them. The scammers try to convince people of their authenticity by pretending they are from some high authority – like the Bank of England or the HMRC. This seems to be a sign of ignorance and unsophistication, but it is in fact a ruthlessly cunning ploy which bears fruit.

The general population has no idea that the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] never cancels National Insurance registration or a personal NI number unless there is a very particular reason which the individual would know about so there is a knowledge gap there for scammers to exploit, and they do.

I suggest that we should all regard incoming phone calls as potential scams and not provide personal information or engage in anything financial with unknown caller, whoever they claim to be. If it seems possible that the call could be genuine you could ask for information about the problem in case it is worth contacting the relevant organisation. Much has been said about the need for education but I suggest we focus on the basics.

I had a call yesterday to tell me that my internet service would be cut off and to press a button to speak to someone, who might have wanted to obtain information, money or just take over my computer. Urgency is often used to press people into taking action. It’s little different from the sales technique of trying to achieve a quick sale at a ‘bargain’ price.

The basics is “education”; making people more aware. Educating people by publicity to only give personal information to those they know and trust would be a start. Why anyone should give such stuff away to an unknown caller beats me, yet we are expected to dig into our pockets and pay them back if they lose money by behaving irresponsibly.

Ann says:
3 May 2021

I recieved a call from an automated cold caller on the following number 07944028654 stating my NI number had been suspended. I knew right then it was a scam call, so hung up straight away and blocked the number. The number was also non tracable on Google. Do better scammers…….

David says:
4 May 2021

I’ve just received another call saying my national insurance number has been compromised. I blocked the number, but somehow they try on different numbers.

Hi David, the scammers use VOIP technology to fake their caller display numbers and so change them frequently. This is disscussed at length elsewhere on these pages,

That negates the effect of blocking specific numbers, but you can still block their calls if you use a system that will screen out all unfamiliar numbers.

For example, smartphones have built in “do not disturb” options for this and landline handsets (e.g. BT Call Guardian) can be acquired with similar features.

Helen Lawrie says:
4 May 2021

I am having this scam on a daily basis. How can we stop it

Hi Helen. These scams are carried out by organised criminals calling from outside the UK.

So it is hard to stop them calling but easy enough to screen out their calls, if you want to do that. See my reply to the previous post.