London Borough of Enfield

London Borough of Enfield London Borough of Enfield logo

A to Z of services

Phone con warning for residents

Published Wednesday, 03 December 2014

Older residents are being warned to watch out for a scam where fraudsters claim to be a police officer or bank official and ask for their bank details.

Enfield Council and the Metropolitan Police are advising older residents to hang up immediately or shut the door if anyone contacts them and asks for these details of their bank account, credit or debit card or PIN number.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, Cllr Chris Bond, said: “There is absolutely no reason why a legitimate police officer or a bank employee would ask for your pin number or bank card, or require you to take money out of your account so please don’t do what these people are asking, just hang up on them.

“The people responsible for this scam sound plausible but are thoroughly reprehensible creatures who wreck people’s lives through deceit and lies, please don’t be caught out by them.

“Regrettable, we know they are targeting pensioners because they know that they are more likely to large savings, so make sure you don’t hand yours over to a criminal”

Detective Inspector Yasmin Lalani of Enfield Police said: " Treat all callers as bogus until you can satisfy yourself that they are genuine. Fraudsters are very plausible and are skilled in persuasion, remember you cannot win a prize in a competition that you have not entered and if it appears too good to be true then it is.

“Ask yourself is it likely that someone you don't know, who has contacted you out of the blue, will give you something for nothing ? The answer is 'no'.

“Never give personal information, such as bank account or pin numbers, to anyone over the phone, unless you initiated the call and know you've reached the right agency.

"If you get a call from someone asking asking personal details then you can tell them 'I don't give out personal information over the phone. I'll contact the company directly.'

Residents can protect themselves by doing the following

• If you receive a call you’re not expecting, you should be suspicious. The vital things to remember are that your bank and the police would:
• Never ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone, so do not disclose these to anyone, no matter who they claim to be.
• Never ask you to withdraw money and send it to them via a courier, taxi or by any other means.
• Never ask you to send your bank cards, or any other personal property, to them via courier, taxi or by any other means.

If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation you have with the caller then please end the call and contact police via the non-emergency number, 101.

Remember, when reporting a suspicious phone call to police, wait at least five minutes before attempting to make the call to ensure you’re not reconnected to the offender.

Alternatively, use a mobile phone or a neighbour’s phone or test your landline by phoning a friend or relative first, to ensure you aren’t still unwittingly connected to the offender.

If you have concerns about your bank account, visit your local branch.

PROTECTING YOURSELF

Remember to follow the above advice. In addition to this, some phone companies offer call screening services that can be effective in blocking marketing cold calls and bogus callers. Contact your phone company and ask about call screening and caller display services.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

1) Please share this information with your older relatives and friends: this crime has a devastating effect on people and we need to raise awareness to prevent further people becoming victims.
2) Report any calls you believe are suspicious as police may be able to trace where the calls are originating from. Please remember, to wait at least five minutes before calling police or use a mobile or neighbour’s phone.
3) Report suspicious activity at cash points. If you see someone spending a long time at a cashpoint, using a number of different cards and have a hood up or their faces covered, contact police immediately. Often offenders will use cashpoints in the early hours.

The Metropolitan Police has published The Little Book of Big Scams which can be accessed via their website.

Enfield Trading Standards works with the National Scams Hub, Safeguarding Adults and the Metropolitan police to identify and write to victims of marketing scams (via the post and telephone).

Enfield Council has returned cheques and cash to victims of marketing scams reported to us by the National Scams Hub.

Victim's details are being shared amongst organised criminals, this can result in further contact by telephone and the type of courier scam detailed above.

Our advice is to never respond to Prize Draw marketing and similar scams requesting money or personal details.

To commit the fraud the con artists typically do the following:

1. They call a resident pretending to be a police officer; bank official or other financial institution representative. They will sound very genuine and plausible.

2. They will say they are investigating an incident and require assistance from the resident.

3. The resident is often asked to key their bank card PIN number into the keypad of the telephone when this is done their PIN number can be identified from the numbers on the touch tone on the keys. They then send a courier to collect the bank card, meaning the caller now has the victim's bank card and PIN number and can empty their bank account.

4. Alternatively the caller will say they want the victim to help with an investigation into corrupt bank employees and will ask the resident to make a large cash withdrawal claiming that they need to check the bank notes. They may also provide the victim with a reason to give bank staff for making such a large cash withdrawal.

5. The caller then says he will send a courier to collect either the cash. This courier is usually unaware he or she is assisting in the commission of a crime.

In some cases the suspect will even tell the victim to call the bank and cancel their bank card. However, the conman hasn't hung up the phone so when the victim thinks they are speaking with their bank; they are actually still speaking to the conman. 

More articles in the news archive.