Police are warning the public to be aware of a new type of telephone-based fraud which targets credit and debit card holders, particularly the elderly.
The scam has already resulted in more than £7.5 million worth of losses on credit and debit cards between January and August, according to Financial Fraud Action UK and the UK Cards Association.
Over that time, more than 1,600 bank customers have fallen victim, with average losses per case of £4,200.
The scam is undertaken by criminal gangs and tends to target elderly and vulnerable bank customers: the average age of victims is 69.
How the scam works
The scam involves someone being phoned by a criminal posing as a member of bank staff, who says their credit or debit card needs collecting and replacing following fraud on their account.
The caller reassures the victim that the call is genuine by getting them to hang up and call their bank’s number for confirmation.
However, the criminal caller stays on the line and then answers the new call, tricking the victim into believing they are on a new call to their bank.
The fraudster will then either ask the person for their PIN number or ask them to key their PIN into their telephone keypad before sending a courier to collect the card.
Steep rise of scams
Police intelligence shows the estimated amount stolen by this method over the first eight months of this year was already 10 times the amount stolen during the whole of 2011.
The rapid spread of this scam takes place as new findings by Financial Fraud Action UK show one in 10 bank customers do not realise they should never reveal their card PIN.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Carter is head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, a squad of police officers and banking fraud investigators who work together to help reduce the UK's card and cheque fraud losses.
He said: "This fraud relies on deception of the customer, who is often elderly and vulnerable and who often takes the fraudster’s word at face value.
"While these new figures confirm that this scam and others like it, is on a steep rise, we can all protect ourselves and our relatives by remembering that banks will never ask for either your card or your PIN."
Top security tips
The UK Cards Association urges people to take the following steps to protect themselves:
- Never hand over your card: Your bank or the police will never ring you to tell you they are coming to your home to pick up your card. Never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it.
- Never share your PIN: Your bank will never ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone. Never share your PIN with anyone – the only times you should use your PIN are at a cash machine or when you use a shop’s chip & PIN machine.
- Always speak to the bank securely: Before calling your bank, make sure you can hear the dial tone. Only ever call your bank on an advertised number.