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Scam Warning from Police

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Thames Valley residents are advised to be on their guard to a new type of scam which is becoming prevalent across London and is now spreading to other areas.

The courier fraud scam often targets the elderly and vulnerable and takes the following steps:

1. The victim receives an unsolicited telephone call from fraudsters saying they are from their bank (or in some cases claiming to be the police), stating that their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on their card or that their card is due to expire and needs to be replaced.

2. The person may be asked to ring the bank back using the phone number printed on the back of their bank card. This helps to convince the person that the call is genuine. However, the fraudster has kept the telephone line open so even though the person has called the bank, the call does not go through. Instead they are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.

3. The fraudster then gains the person's trust by pretending to be from the bank and seeming to offer assistance. In many cases the person is asked to provide their full bank card details and key in their PIN so that their existing card can be cancelled and their new one activated or authorised. The fraudster will then explain that the bank will need to collect the card.

4. The fraudster will then attend the person's address or send an innocent courier company driver to collect the card and sometimes provide them with a replacement card which is subsequently found to be fake.

5. Therefore, the fraudster has obtained the person's name, address, full bank details, the card itself and the PIN. The bank cards are then used fraudulently without the victim's knowledge.

There are a number of variations to the scam, including:

  • Fraudsters pretending to be from the police cold calling members of the public and telling them that their bank account has been compromised by criminals. The fraudster suggests that the person should transfer their bank balance into a 'safe' police bank account.
  • Fraudsters pretending to be from the police attending people's addresses and retrieving the person's card and PIN.
  • Members of the public receiving letters on bank headed paper informing them that their account has been the subject of a fraud. The letter advises them to transfer their funds to a 'safe' account and that an official will be in contact to provide them with a new card and PIN.
  • Fraudsters contacting members of the public requesting them to cut their cards in half because their account has been compromised. They are then asked to post the cut card to an address where fraudsters simply tape the card together again and can use the details to commit fraud.

Between May and August this year, Thames Valley Police received 17 reports of fraud of this type in Bucks — many scam attempts never get reported. Police advice is that if you receive such a call, end it immediately. If you have elderly or vulnerable family members, friends, or neighbours, let them know about the scam.

Please be aware that:

  • Your bank will never attend your home
  • Your bank and/or the police will never collect your bank card
  • Your bank and/or the police will never ask for your PIN

If you receive this type of call, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or via their website. In an emergency, dial 999.

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