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.