Tuesday 1 July 2014

Scams Bulletin June 2014

The purpose of this scams bulletin is to enable Hampshire residents to be aware, and therefore guard against the type of scams currently being reported to the Hampshire Trading Standards Service.

Trading Standards will collate information on scams to provide information and intelligence to the public and other agencies but will normally only intervene when the victim is vulnerable and has been financially abused
In appropriate cases Trading Standards will also seek to take enforcement action through the courts.

If you are worried about a potential scam please contact: Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on
03454 04 05 06 or online using the Online consumer complaint form

Bank Account Fraud

Hampshire Trading Standards Service has received recent enquiries about a sophisticated
bank account fraud. The fraud is very convincing, and Hampshire residents are urged to keep alert should they receive a telephone call from someone alleging they work for a fraud or security department connected to their bank. The caller will cause alarm by warning the customer that their
bank account has been compromised in some way and suspicious activity has occurred. They will ask their intended victim to phone their bank’s fraud department without delay.

However, unbeknown to the receiver of this call, the fraudster has kept the telephone line open. Therefore, when the victim phones what they believe to be an official number, they are re connected to the fraudster. The fraudster this time, posing as the bank, will then ask the customer to transfer their funds into a separate holding account. Once this is done, the call is terminated and the money is

Real life case study

Mr C received a call during the evening from someone who said they worked for
the ‘Visa Verification Department’ at his bank. He asked Mr C to confirm who his bank was. Mr C was told someone had attempted to access his account, and he was asked to phone the fraud department at his bank. Mr C found the telephone number on the internet so had no reason to doubt he was phoning the correct department. He was then asked to transfer his current account funds and savings into a holding account. Mr C transferred approximately £18,000. When the call was terminated, Mr C began to question the authenticity of this matter. He decided to phone the fraud department again. This time, he spoke with the correct office who advised him he had been scammed.

Trading Standards Officers visited Mr C and he agreed to change his telephone number. This is the only way Mr C can stop the fraudster from contacting him again. Mr C is pursuing his complaint through the Financial Ombudsman Service, in the hope he receives his money back.

Should you receive a similar telephone call DO NOT engage in conversation and hang up
as soon as possible. Check the validity of the call with your local bank branch, but DO NOT
make a phone call from your land line as this may reconnect you to the fraudster. Use a
mobile phone if you have one, or ask a neighbour/friend to check for you. Best of all, visit your bank branch in person.

Most banks have security systems in place to deal with fraudulent attempts on an account.
Normal practice is to place a block to prevent money from being taken. They will not ask a
customer to transfer funds over the phone in these circumstances.

If you are worried about scams please contact:
Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 Or online using the Online consumer complaint form

Real life case study 2

Mrs E received a phone call from a male who alleged he worked for ‘Visa Payment Security’. He asked if she had lost her debit card, as £900 had just been taken by a well known shop. Mrs E found her card in her purse, and told the male she had not lost it. He advised her that she may be victim of a fraud, and to phone the number on the back of the card. Mrs E dialled this number
immediately. She was advised to transfer all her money, £25,000 in total, into one account. Mrs E did so using internet banking. She was then advised to transfer this amount into a separate holding account, and he gave her a sort code and account number. Mrs E was not prepared to do this, and said she would drive to her local branch for help. The caller said he suspected the fraud was being committed by someone in the branch, and he advised Mrs E to say she was transferring the money into a relative’s account. During the journey she began to doubt the validity of the call. On arriving at the bank, they advised her this was an attempt at a fraud. Thankfully, no money had been lost.

Copycat ‘Government’ Websites

Hampshire residents are warned to look out for numerous copycat websites that they may find
using a search engine or receive a link to in an email. Copycat websites charge a fee to process or renew documents, such as passports or visas, which can be done for free or much cheaper through the official organisation. Although it is not against the law for a private company to offer a similar  service, their website should carry a clear disclaimer explaining it is not affiliated with the official body in any way.

Current Copycat ‘Government’ Websites to look out for include:

  • Passport Renewal or Checking Service
  • EHIC Card
  • Congestion Tax
  • Car Tax
  • Driving License Renewal
  • Tax Refunds

There are a number of ways to spot a copycat website:

  • Read the homepage of the website carefully as it may even state it is not affiliated with the official body.
  • Don’t be mislead by a ‘.org’ address. This does not guarantee it is the official site.
  • Look out for ‘paid for’ search engine results. These are boxed adverts displayed at the top of search engine results pages. Quite often the official site is not the top result.
  • Check to see if the web address begins with ‘https’ as this acts as an encryption to
  • protect personal details.

Do not open any links contained in an email if you are not sure of its source.
DO NOT open an email or any attachments if you have any concerns about its source or content.

For further advice or to report a scam please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or online using the Online consumer complaint form

Real life case study

Mr B needed to renew his car tax, and carried out an internet search to find out how to do this. Mr B found what he presumed to be the official website and made a payment online. However, three weeks later, he had not received his tax disc. He contacted the DVLA who confirmed this was a scam.

Computer Telephone Scams

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Service continues to receive enquiries from concerned consumers and businesses who receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be from their computer support service. Once the caller has got the consumers attention they may try to:

  • Sell and install software that may damage the computer
  • Request payment details to pay for non existent services
  • Take control of the computer remotely
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites that will ask you for personal and financial
  • information
Should you receive a similar unsolicited phone call, remember:

DO NOT purchase any software or services
NEVER give control of your computer to a third party
NEVER Provide your credit card or financial information
HANG UP as soon as possible

If you are worried about scams, please contact; Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 Or online using the Online consumer complaint form

Real life case study

Mrs P received a call from a man who alleged to work for her computer software support centre. He said that her computer operating system was out of date and he could install an update. Mrs P was in the process of moving house, so she told the caller her computer was disconnected and had been packed up. The man terminated the call. This made Mrs P suspicious and on checking with Trading
Standards she was advised this was a scam.

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