/ 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.

18/05/21: Phishing emails

Fraudsters appear to be continuing to use the hook of National Insurance numbers as a means to exploit personal information from victims – the scam appears to have now moved to phishing emails:


Thank you to an eagle-eyed scam alert subscriber for making us aware of this email, which was not sent by GOV.UK.

Remember, you can visit Gov.uk which offers contact numbers and web chat support if you have concerns regarding your National Insurance number.

Guide: how to spot an email scam

21/04/21: Cold calls

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.

Trevor Sayer says:
21 April 2021

I also had this call from the ‘Bank of England’ with a very ‘posh’ sounding English voice. I didn’t follow it through and just hung up.

Jenni Shaw says:
22 April 2021

I have received two calls in two days saying that my NINO has been used fraudulently and that if I did not respond that I will have my personal possessions ceased and that I could face imprisonment. . . . it is very frightening. . . .

I also had these phone calls, several pretending to be from HMRC and one about my NI number being used for illegal acts. I never returned the calls, as I suspected they were scams and it is good to confirm that here. I wish there was a way the mobile numbers of these people could be reported to the telephone companies and the numbers suspended.

Cyril Clark says:
22 April 2021

Hello, I recently had a text claiming that I had just paid £2500 for a DELL laptop (I hadn’t). My mobile service provider (Vodafone) marked it as suspicious. Vodafone asked me to report the number (0800…) to them and said they would investigate. At least it appears that Vodafone are trying to do something about these scam calls.

Elaine Pyke says:
22 April 2021

You can forward it to Spam, 7726. Make sure you give them the phone number they used to message you

I’ve found having the answering machine on works every time to deter scammers. I’m still incredibly sceptical at all times however.

Stewart SEYMOUR says:
22 April 2021

Well done, Angela, that’s exactly what I do and I’ve been doing that for years; when the answering machine kicks in, I simply wait until I hear who’s speaking and if it is somebody I recognise, or someone I’m expecting a call from who mentions my name, then I know I can safely pick up the ‘phone – I think that’s what everybody should do. There’s no point swearing at them, etc, it’s just “water off a duck’s back” to them – they get so used to it that they don’t bother with what anybody says to them – they just think of the money they can make from the few suckers who get taken in!

Mark davies says:
22 April 2021

My NI messages went straight to voicemail, just blocked the numbers

Yes, that’s good practice. I have a call blocker on my landline, so if the caller is not in my phone address book, it changes the ring tone.

Unfortunately, there are no ways to block calls to mobiles. Unless anyone knows different

Watson says:
22 April 2021

I use ‘Truecaller’ app. It’s great for blocking calls to mobiles. Some calls are automaticallyblocked if other users have reported the caller’s number as being a scam or nuisance. The free version does everything you need.

Mary Williams-Browne says:
22 April 2021

You most certainly can block them on your mobile, if it’s a Smartphone.
Once they have called you the first time…go into your phone log and click on their number and there will be the 3 lines at the top right of the screen. Click on this and it gives you the option to block that number.
Also…with regards to the NI number scam…I received a TEXT message from an ordinary mobile number….so be aware of this as well.
Be safe.

Keith T says:
22 April 2021

The iPhone has an option to do this. Go to Settings/Phone/Silence Unknown Callers. Works a treat. Anyone in your contacts will ring through normally. All other calls are silenced and sent to Voicemail, so you won’t miss any important messages.

Rita says:
22 April 2021

You can block a caller on your mobile.

But you can only block a call on a mobile AFTER they’ve called – ie once that number is on your phone – so that it doesn’t get through again. To the best of my knowledge there isn’t any way of stopping them from getting through in the first place – as with Call Guard on a landline. With Call Guard, any number not in your contacts is intercepted and asked to state their ID; the system then rings your phone and states who is calling and asks you to press 1 to accept the call or 2 to reject it. Scammers don’t get that far because, generally, they’re robocallers which can’t (in the extremely unlikely circumstance that it actually is a real person – and I’ve never had a scam call that originates with a real person – they’re not really likely to want to state their ID anyway). Your phone doesn’t ring so you won’t be disturbed although you will see a missed call recorded some time later. The fact that your phone didn’t ring in the first place tells you that it was a scammer straight off but you have the option of checking the number online to see whether it’s legitimate or not. I can honestly say that – unless I was out and the call came from somebody in my contacts – none of the numbers that have appeared as ‘missed’ calls have been genuine.
The difference between that and letting it go to voicemail is that with Call Guard, the number appears to go unanswered. The scammer will think it isn’t a real number (these robocalls are dialled by computer which just ‘tries’ thousands of number combinations – not all of which are real) and they don’t bother you again. I generally find I get less than half a dozen a month.
You need to get a Call Guard phone and then sign up with your service provider – which generally costs a couple of pounds a month.

I have had two calls claiming to be from Amazon Prime and saying that they will charge my account £79.99 a month unless I cancel it. One caller asked for my date of birth so that he could cancel it. A second one wanted me to hand over control of my computer. Both were quite persistent.
The number they called from was 08767306834

I have also had the Amazon Prime scam calls a number of times over the previous 6 months, I have a way of dealing with the call, I press 1 as instructed and when it connects I give the person who answers a whole lot of “Agro” by telling them to go and play on the motorway.

Just received a text on my mobile phone from HSBC SAYING THAT A PAYMENT WAS ATTEMPTED
WAS ATTEMPTED FROM A NEW DEVICE” , BUT COULD i CALL “HTTPS://www.hs-review-security.com”
I dont have any account with HSBC!!!

Roger Felgate says:
22 April 2021

I have had similar calls relating to both HSBC and Santander accounts. I never click on the included link but always forward the text to 7726 for further investigation. If you do this you will almost immediately get a reply asking for the number that sent the original scam text as the investigation team do not get it in the forwarded text.

I receive these scam bank emails on Messages. I screenshot the message and send to 7726 and as you correctly say, 7726 reply asking for the sender’s numbers. Why do 7726 do this as the number is on the screenshot?

If possible change your ‘phone system to one which has BT callblocker this allows you to put all your personal contacts into the memory which can then come straight through to you. All the other calls are intercepted and announced to you then you can decide whether to accept the call. Scammers will hang up when confronted with this.

I was receiving a number of these type of calls on a regualar basis. The last one I had, I waited until after they had finished speaking and I replied, “We both know that you’re a liar and now you’ve proved yourself to be a thief, so just f off” the latter I spoke in a much louder and threatening tone hence caller quickly rang off. I pleased to say that to date I haven’t received any such calls.

Valerie Ockelford says:
22 April 2021

I keep getting calls supposedly from my internet provider saying that there has been illegal activity on my internet and that unless I respond they will be shutting it down within 24 hours. I just hang up.

Dave Beeson says:
22 April 2021

I had this two days ago and managed 6 minutes of made up details before they hung up. Play a game with them and save somebody else who may get taken in. It was amazing how they managed to access my “file” using the details that I gave them. Coincidentally I did get a couple of text messages yesterday,
one for a Vodaphone payment not going through and the second for an HSBC payment from a new device. I’m with neither company so passed both on to the relevant agencies. Maybe they wanted revenge.

They are used to being hung up on, and sworn at, I try and waste as much as their time as possible telling them I have pressed the wrong key, or the computer has gone blank, and you can always ask them if their mother is proud of the job they are doing.

Betty Boyd says:
22 April 2021

I have a call blocker on my fone

Gordon Simpson says:
22 April 2021

Watch out for ‘Virgin Media’ scammers! I’ve had numerous calls relating either to my ‘fluctuating broadband’ or someone tapped into my hub and using it illegally. They nearly had me fooled with asian accents and call centre noise in the background. When I said I would call Virgin personally he tried to convince me that he was calling from Virgin.
I spoke to a real Virgin Media call centre worker about these calls and he told me they would not contact me in this way and never to divulge any information to these callers / scammers!
Be warned!

Antony says:
22 April 2021

I purchased a CPR telephone call blocker for a little under thirty pounds, and connected It to my landline phone. Though I still get the occasional call the numbers of unwanted calls has declined by 99%, and gives me constant peace of mind. If you have a relatively up to date cordless phone you can also use #2 on the scam call which blocks it.

Gordon Courcha says:
22 April 2021

I had the National Insurance scam attempt. It was from a mobile! I don’t think any form of official agency would use a phone that they carry in their pocket! I have received several similar calls, so I assume using a mobile phone that cannot be traced to any individual is an attraction for scammers.

Ann cutts says:
22 April 2021

I’ve had all the above hmrc and national insurance all were recorded and on a mobile number I’ve got blocker on my phone which I use all the time I also report every one

I’ve had notifications from HSBC that there has been activity on my account, which is strange as I don’t bank with HSBC!
I’ve also received calls purporting to be from Inland Revenue telling me that an arrest warrant has been issued and instructing me to contact them!
When my house ‘phone rings and I can’t identify the number the I lift it from it’s rest and hold the ‘phone without answering, it very often goes dead.
Don’t trust any caller, view everyone with suspicion.

The authorities are very keen on demanding endless Identity Purity checks causing many people much stress, hassle and inconvenience. They claim this is in order to prevent serious crime. However they seem unwilling to take serious action to stop crimes using the telephone. These crimes are often used to raise money to fund more serious offences such as human trafficking.
It may help if officials stop using such threatening tactics to enforce parking notices or obtain compliance with health and tax regulations. The telephone bandits are just emulating them.

I’ve had several calls allegedly from my internet provider but have disconnected quite quickly having been told by my service provider that it was a scam