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Trading standards warning on phone scam threatening Highland residents

By Alasdair Fraser

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The home telephone number is a favourite for scammers
The home telephone number is a favourite for scammers

A telephone scam is seeking to intimidate Highland residents into disclosing personal details with fake threats over National Insurance (NI) numbers.

Highland Council’s trading standards has issued a warning in the hope of making residents aware of the ruse as it becomes more prevalent.

Through an automated phone call, a recorded voice claims there are issues with the recipient’s NI number, using phrases such as “final warning”.

The call warns of serious legal consequences if the recipient ignores the demand.

The recipient is advised to press 1 to fix the problem and, if they do so, is then pressured into providing personal details so as to receive a new NI number number and avoid legal proceedings.

Trading standards warns that personal information disclosed can be used to clone identity and other illegal activities that can cause the victim financial harm.

The council body warns: “Please be aware that it is not possible to change your National Insurance number and do not share it with anyone who does not need it.”

Other advice to those receiving scam calls includes: being wary of unrecognised numbers or unexpected calls; hanging up immediately if suspicions are aroused; and never giving out personal information.

Trading standards team leader Mark McGinty explained: “These types of scam calls are designed to scare you into giving away your personal information.

“They are designed to catch you off-guard.

“The people behind these scam calls are well-trained, know what to say and can sound quite threatening.

“It is likely that they already know some information about you and need just that one last piece to complete their jigsaw.

“It needs to be made clear that you should never be pressured into giving out details and that if you have any doubts, just hang up the phone.

“If it is a legitimate call then the business can contact you by other means.”

Highland Council trading standards’ scams page contains useful information at https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20000/trading_standards/900/covid-19_issues.

You can also receive free and confidential advice by contacting Consumeradvice.scot, a dedicated consumer advice service at 0808 164 6000 or by email at advice@consumeradvice.scot

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