Beware the 'caller-ID' scam

Updated: 

A mobile cell phone is blocked by yellow police tape reading Crime Scene Do Not Cross. The concept represents compromised techno

Ofcom has issued a warning about 'number spoofing scams', which are spreading across the UK. The criminals cold-call their victims, pretending to be from their bank and asking for personal details. If the victim questions the legitimacy of the call, the scammer tells them to check their caller ID - at which point they see their bank's genuine number.

However, this is just a new twist on the telephone scam.

The scam

The criminals have modified their caller ID to match that of a legitimate bank. The technology allows experts to do this, if, for example they want to leave an 0800 number for you to call back. However, the criminal gangs are using it to their advantage.

Once they have changed the caller ID, they pose as the representative of a bank, credit card company or government department. They'll give a convincing-sounding story and then ask for account numbers and other sensitive information.

At some stage during the call, if the victim suggests something unusual is going on, they will highlight the caller ID number, to 'prove' they are legitimate. They will encourage the victim to check the caller ID number against the one on their bank card or statement - and when it matches some will be reassured enough to hand over highly sensitive details.

Protect yourself

Ofcom is warning people not to believe the scam. They say if anyone asks for your personal details you should assume that you are being scammed, and hang up.

You should then wait for at least five minutes and call back using the number on your statement, in the phone book, or on the official website. The reason for leaving it at least five minutes is so you can be sure the line has cleared and you're not still speaking to the same fraudster. Ideally if you have another line or a mobile phone you should use that - to be on the safe side.

You can then be sure you are speaking to someone legitimate, and ask them whether the original contact was from them, or whether you have been the victim of an attempted fraud.

If you think you have been a victim of the scam, if debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved in the scam you should immediately contact your bank or credit card company. Your next step should be to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk. You should also report it on the police non-emergency line: 101.