/ 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.

L Pye says:
22 April 2021

I had this call about NAT INS. NO. Realised it was a scam. Cut them off. I blocked the mobile number that showed up too.

Edna says:
22 April 2021

Buy an answerphone and screen all calls – best way to deal with unsolicited calls.

I don’t get a call about N.a but recently it’s about someone who has used my Visa to transfer £680.00 to Spain. If you haven’t call this no. I just put the phone down.
The other one recently is about my internet that it will be disconnected in 24 hrs because it been used for drug trafficking. Please ring this no. to sot it out. But when I enquire, it’s BT internet and I am not with BT. I put the phone but on the land line.

I have had all of those mentioned on a regular basis sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. I have caller display and generally you can tell if its a scam number. If you do 1471 it returns as unobtainable. Apparently they change these numbers regularly once the original ones are shut down. Latest was from ‘Ocean’ washing machine cover, plausible young woman who told me it was about my ‘cover’ when questioned about which washing machine she went through a long list saying ‘its the Whirlpool group’ none was my machine and I don’t have cover, I asked her where I bought the machine and when and she hung up. 1471 revealed unobtainable. apparently this has been going for years. International on the display is another sure sign its a scam. Stay safe

I have had the National Insurance one from an automated call a few weeks ago. I just ignored it. But it is true about landline call blocker phones they are very effective, I bought one a few years ago after being pestered with relentless nuisance calls. They reduced considerably and any unknown callers have to announce who they are, which puts the majority of them off.

Yes, I have a call blocker for my landline and it’s very effective, but I get all these fraudulent calls on my mobile now and it’s very annoying. I can see they also phone from a mobile, but it’s always a different one, so they must try it thousands of times.

I have had the National Insurance one from an automated call a few weeks ago. I just ignored it. But it is true about landline call blocker phones they are very effective, I bought one a few years ago after being pestered with relentless nuisance calls. They reduced considerably and any unknown callers have to announce who they are, which puts the majority of them off.

Had the NI on a couple of times, even though it’s an automated call I still just give the posh sounding git a few expletives and hang up.

Juanita C. McGlashan says:
23 April 2021

This week,I received a call from a young man who claimed to be from the London Met Police. I was immediately suspicious because my phone indicated that the number was being withheld.
Since I live in Nottinghampshire, i did not see a need for the London Met to be calling me. I hung
immediately deciding on the off chance it would be legitimate I would be contacted by local
police. ( I did not). It looks like another new scam.

I had a call from a Bristol number regarding playing the National Lottery. I’m not sure what the caller wanted as I responded ‘No’ when asked if I took part in the lottery. Was this a scam?

Scamp says:
23 April 2021

I had an email allegedly from Barclaycard (not Barclays Bank, they are two different companies) which said that my borrowing limit would be reduced to a trivial amount due to lack of use. It went on to say that if I wanted to re-instate my original limit I would have to send proof of income. They wanted bank statements from any banks I used, either scanned and emailed or as photocopies through the post.
My immediate thought was: “Who in their right mind is going to send such documents, containing as they do all the bank details, my recent expenditures, Standing Order and Direct Debit amounts, my branch address and number, my account number, etc etc (the list goes on)? This is obviously a scam!”
Even if it wasn’t a scam I don’t use that account anyway, so my second immediate thought contained two words. I will not tell you what the first word was. The second was “off”.
I then forwarded the email to the scam reporting people, but I never get anything back from them.

Diana Jaehrig says:
23 April 2021

Apparently the one from Barclay card isn’t a scam.. I phoned them from a number i already had and asked about all the info they required . They said that was if I ever wanted to put my credit limit back to my original amount from the £200 they’d just reduced it to. Which I didn’t! Apparently, this had been done across the board with clients who hadn’t used their service for a long period of time. However, if in doubt, I would phone them yourselves to make sure

Diana – I am surprised that Barclaycard are doing this by e-mail. When one of my credit card issuers [a bank] decided to reduce my credit limit they sent me a letter explaining the move and gave me an option of either accepting it or speaking to a representative to set a different limit. I had no objection to the reduction because I only used the card from time to time and for certain purposes which no longer required a high limit. I would initially have distrusted an-email unless it contained some identifying information that only they and I knew, and even then I would have done as you suggest and made a confirmation phone call before proceeding.

With regards to the N.I. scam, and all other scams for that matter, I used to receive loads of calls every day, even though I joined the Telephone Preference Service it did not stop them. Then my telephone provider, Talk Talk, brought out a free call barring service for their customers. I immediately signed up and it has worked a treat. My calls have decreased to zero. I would heartily recommend a call barring service to anyone pestered by these nuisance calls. The service really does work.

Denise Beaumont says:
23 April 2021

I have had several recorded calls from a very well spoken official sounding gentleman purporting to be representing HMRC. He says that there is about to be a warrant issued for my arrest for tax fraud unless I press a number to speak to the person handling this. I of course immediately hang up. Has anyone else had this?

Yes, Denise. it’s been going for some time now so I can only assume the scammers make enough money out of it to keep it going even though it sounds completely implausible.

Yes mainly recorded mesages and I from a person. I put the phone down. I also had a call that I was supposed to have rung. I was asked how he could help me. I said he had phoned me. I was though to the HMRC investigation dept. Wanted my details so he could find out what had gone wrong . I said my son who worked for the police had just arrived home . I would ask him how to put this right. The phone went dead

Sue skarratts says:
24 April 2021

Yes I’ve had the HMRC scam it really upset me they asked for my address & I said you should have it & then they put phone down. It was an international call!

Hi Sue, please never confirm any personal info to callers unless you instigate the call and also know and trust who you are calling. They might have your name, address and phone number but it doesn’t mean they are legitimate and often work from old illegally-obtained lists so don’t update them.

My mum always used to answer the phone by saying ‘Good morning, Mrs ******** speaking’. I have now got her to just say ‘Hello’ and let the caller do the talking.

Just don’t let them upset you, they are not worth it. This post may help in the future:

I used to give my name when answering the phone at work but have not done that for years on my landline or mobile phones. When callers give my name I avoid confirming it and ask who is calling. I kept my landline number when I moved five years ago and although scammers often mention my previous address not one has mentioned my current address.

Protecting ourselves from scammers is a gradual learning process and I will not discuss anything financial unless I have initiated the call.

Nearly all the people who ring the landline are on the contact list and the handset gives the name so we can answer and greet them politely. With unrecognised numbers I’m afraid I am not polite and generally answer “YES?”. Sometimes this backfires and a distant relative is unfortunately offended; they generally make allowances after a spot of soothing small talk.

The caller from my home insurance company was probably taken aback when I put her through security. I did apologise and mentioned that I had started doing this because of scam calls.

The call was to remind me that I had not responded to my renewal invitation, which had been delayed in the post. I asked for the document to be sent by email and I renewed by phone.

I lost faith in caller display some years ago when my own number was displayed.

Have had an email from The Department of Transport stating 2 attempts had been made to take my car tax but these had failed could I update my payment details .As my car wan’t taxed . It looked very offical expect called me by my email name . I knew I had paid my car tax and payment was on my bank statement. This has been forwarded as phishing

Elaine – Most of these scam attempts are a stab in the dark because the fraudsters don’t actually know who they are addressing. They have obtained e-mail addresses through criminal conduct and use them randomly. Unfortunately they get enough leads to make it worth while.

The DVLA, not the Department for Transport, would make contact if there was a problem with a payment and they would always state the registered keeper’s name and address and the vehicle registration mark as identifiers. Furthermore, the DVLA does not “take” car tax automatically, it requires a positive transaction by the keeper to make the payment. Asking people to update their payment details should always be treated with suspicion and any updating should be done through the organisation’s website via a log-in to the person’s account.

I’ve been contacted recently by someone from a call centre, claiming to work for VISA, to advise that an attempt was made to use my Visa Debit card at a Western Union, but they suspected it was fraudulent and therefore blocked the transaction. I have two current accounts with the same bank, both with Visa debit cards. They couldn’t tell me which account the fraudulent activity was supposed to have been attempted, and they asked me to confirm who I banked with. If it was genuinely someone from the VISA network they would have known this, so I hung up. However they did know my name, postcode, and called on my landline telephone number which is ex directory, which added credibility to their call. It would have been very easy to get drawn into a compromising position.

24. 4. 21.

Thank you, Which, for the excellent job you’re doing in alerting the public to the audacious ruses these despicable crooks perpetrate to try and steal your personal data, usually in order to empty your bank accounts.

You are playing an essential part in rendering these crimes to eventually be totally unprofitable. Let’s hope this will be the case ASAP.

Arthur Mckean says:
24 April 2021

I had a automated call about NI numbers just stopped the call and blocked the number reported to O2 scam department

Molly says:
25 April 2021

Had a text message from Lloyds bank that a phone had paired with my account.
Don’t bank with them .
Even if I didn’t i would not have clicked on the link.
I received lots of numbers from numbers not in my contacts.
I always call back from another withheld number.
Either no dialling tone , or the number isn’t recognised.
Never click on any links within the message.

shaz says:
26 April 2021

just had cold call from EE number 07950 232461 blocked it

shaz says:
26 April 2021

SCAM Just had a call from EE network number 07950 232461 – stating my NI is about to be suspended. Blocked number… very annoying

Received an email yesterday telling me to renew my tv licence since it is no longer free. I was sure I’d had this letter before, but that time it was real, with part of my post code. Luckily I had saved a copy of the real licence on my desk top. This scam letter had a Spanish e-address.