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Highland Council trading standards warns of new scam targeting bank customers

By Andrew Dixon

A WARNING has been issued that cold call telephone scammers are now targeting individual bank customers to gain access to accounts before emptying their cash.

The so-called “authorised push payment scam” involves a fraudster impersonating a bank representative and phoning an unsuspecting potential victim.

They use a phone number which mimics that of a bank or service provider using a device which can copy any number, even if they are based overseas.

So, when a victim receives a call on their mobile or landline, their bank telephone number will flash up on the display. Any questioning of the legitimacy of the call is met by a suggestion to check the number printed on the back of their bank card. This will match the one showing on the phone.

The caller may know other details about the victim, such as their full name and address, date of birth and, occasionally, the last four digits of their debit card.

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: "While some of this information is publicly available, it’s possible the details have been obtained from criminals on the internet.

"Armed with this information, and having given them a false sense of security by mimicking the bank’s phone number, they will trick the victim into revealing other details about their account, usually their online banking passwords.

"The criminals are then able to hack into the person’s account and transfer their savings out."

One potential victim alerted the council's trading standards that she had been almost duped by the scam.

The council spokeswoman said: "The local woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, got suspicious when she was asked to provide her date of birth. However, the scammer went on to say that her bank, based in Inverness, was being investigated regarding several counts of theft by banking staff and an internal investigation was ongoing.

"The caller further threatened that if she did not co-operate with his ‘investigation’ and provide the information then she would be left ‘unprotected’ and could lose all her savings.

"The potential victim sensibly put down the phone on the scammer at this point and after taking advice from trading standards contacted her bank’s fraud prevention centre to alert them to this incident."

Mark McGinty.
Mark McGinty.

Mark McGinty, trading standards team leader, said: “Luckily the person who contacted us did not lose any money from her bank account, but this could so easily have happened.

"We strongly advise consumers who receive cold call telephone calls apparently from banks, building societies and other financial organisations or service providers to be on their guard and if in doubt put the phone down.

"These scams are a fraud, please don’t let the fraudsters take your money.”

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