Phone scammers 'net £23.9m in a year'

media captionMaureen Sitton: "I felt really abused... and didn't want to use the phone anymore"

The amount of money lost to phone scammers has tripled in a year, prompting a major awareness campaign.

An estimated £23.9m has been tricked out of unsuspecting victims in the last year, up from £7m the previous year, according to Financial Fraud Action.

The group, which runs fraud prevention action for the financial services industry, said research suggested 58% of people had received suspect calls.

This was up from 41% in a similar study carried out last summer.

The main trick involves a con artist deceiving victims into believing they are calling from the police, a bank or a computer company.

They suggest that the individual has been the victim of fraud and ask for personal financial information - such as card details or a Pin code - to access their account.

Some ask victims to transfer money, to withdraw cash from a branch, or to hand over a bank card to a courier.

Advice to consumers includes:

  • Being wary of cold calling, especially if the caller suggests you call back
  • Banks and the police never ask for personal banking details, or request that individuals withdraw or transfer money
  • If suspicious of a call, hang up, wait five minutes or preferably use a different phone line to report the fraud

Adverts are appearing across the UK to warn people of these scams. All the major UK banks, building societies, card companies and chief police officers have also signed a declaration aiming to highlight the warning signs of phone scams.

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