Police urge caution as telephone scam targets elderly victims

Telephone scam victim
Telephone scam victim

Police are advising people to be cautious following reports of a telephone scam targeting the vulnerable and elderly.

The scam involves a call from someone pretending to be from the police fraud squad, advising that there has been suspicious activity on the victim’s bank account. The victim is then told that they must attend the bank to withdraw a large amount of money after which they are urged to call a given number, at which point ‘undercover officers’ would arrange to meet them.

Sometimes the caller may ask the victim to call them back on a local Police number so they can confirm their identity. However, when the victim hangs up, the caller will then stay on the line so when the victim rings back, it is the same person or an accomplice that answers.

The police will never ask you for your account number or pin detail and anyone asking for your financial details unsolicited should be treated with suspicion.

Humberside Police Cyber Crime Inspector, Kevin Foster said: “We receive many reports of scams like this one, but thankfully most people see them for what they are, and report them to the police without giving away their personal or banking details.”

“I would urge all residents to be vigilant and if you have elderly relatives or neighbours please ask them to be aware of this scam.”

“Never reveal your personal or banking details over the telephone, and if you suspect the caller may be fraudulent, contact the police. The Police, banks and financial institutions will never ask the public to give out account or security information over the telephone or e-mail.”

If you receive a call of this nature or if you have any information about this or other scams, please report it to the police on 101 so that we can investigate. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Humberside Police and the charity, Action on Elder Abuse, has provided the following safeguarding advice to protect yourself against phone scams and internet fraud.

• Check bank statements regularly and tracking receipts

• Reduce how much money can be taken from an account at any one time

• Have a copy of the bank statement sent to someone trustworthy to check

• Limit the use of ‘chip and pin’ to control money

• Keep important documents and valuables out of sight

• Never let anyone into your home unless you can confirm their identity or they have made an appointment

• Only book work on a house through ‘trusted trader’ schemes

• Treat anyone asking for your financial details unsolicited with suspicion and note that banks will never ask you for your account number or pin details.

In instances where an older person is not in a position to protect themselves from financial abuse (e.g. they have dementia), the charity advises that families and loved ones stay vigilant to spot the signs that abuse may be taking place. These include:

• Signatures on official documents that do not resemble the older person’s own

• Changes in banking habits (e.g. large sums of money being withdrawn)

• The inclusion of additional names on bank accounts

• Abrupt changes to, or the sudden establishment of, wills

• Sudden and unexplained transfers of assets to a family member or someone outside the family

• The unexplained disappearance of funds or possessions

• The deliberate isolation of an older person from friends and family, resulting in a

carer having total control.

• The sudden introduction of a Power of Attorney document that places control with an unknown Third Party