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Highland Council Trading Standards warns consumers of new "authorised push payment scam" targeting bank customers

11th June 2019

Highland Council Trading Standards have been made aware that cold call telephone scammers have recently changed tactics and are now targeting individual bank customers to gain access to bank accounts and clear bank accounts of cash.

The so-called "authorised push payment scam" involves a fraudster impersonating a bank representative and phoning an unsuspecting potential victim by telephone. They use a phone number which mimics that of their 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 some landline devices), 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. 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 in to revealing other details about their account, usually their online banking passwords. The criminals are then able to hack in to the person’s account and transfer their savings out.

One such potential victim alerted Highland Council Trading Standards that she had been almost duped by this very scam. 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 on-going. The caller further threatened that if she did not cooperate 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, Trading Standards Team Leader further adds: "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."

As part of Scam Awareness campaign, which runs from 10th to 23rd June, Highland Council Trading Standards also wish to highlight further help for consumers who find themselves unwittingly a victim of a scam which involves a payment being taken from their bank account or debit card.

Eight of the major banks. Covering 17 brands, have committed to implement a fund to reimburse customers of a ‘no blame’ type scam or fraud. People who realise they have been caught out in these "authorised push payment" scams should report the fraud to their bank immediately as normal.

Further information on this voluntary code can be found from the Authorised Push Payment Scams Steering Group website at: https://appcrmsteeringgroup.uk/

Consumers can also receive free and confidential advice if they feel that they have inadvertently become a victim or a scam or they wish to report a scam.

Consumeradvice.scot, a dedicated consumer advice service was launched in April 2019. This new service, which is backed by the Scottish Government, provides advice, assistance and information to people on a range of consumer issues and concerns.

Scottish consumers requiring advice and assistance on any consumer issue relating to goods and services can contact Consumeradvice.scot through a dedicated Freephone number 0808 164 6000 or alternatively by email at advice@consumeradvice.scot

Consumers can also contact an advisor via a new webchat facility at: www.consumeradvice.scot or via social media at Facebook m.me/advice.scot.2

Consumers can also view consumer advice and information by logging onto: www.consumeradvice.scot

 

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